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Chris Duarte, Evan Mobley headline 5 rookies with promising debuts

Five first-year players flashed their potential in their first NBA action on Wednesday night.

Chris Duarte sets Pacers record with 27 points in debut.

Wednesday marked the beginning of the 2021-22 NBA season for most of the league after Tuesday’s double-header tipoff. It is also served as the first taste of professional basketball for many of this year’s rookie class.

Here are some of the best first-year performances from Wednesday’s action:

Chris Duarte — Indiana Pacers

The 13th overall pick has recently been a productive spot for teams seeking guards with scoring talent. Duarte might be the latest success story from a draft slot that also produced Donovan Mitchell (2017), Devin Booker (2015), Zach LaVine (2014), and Tyler Herro (2019).

Duarte’s NBA debut was better than all of them, a 27-point announcement in the Pacers’ one-point loss to Charlotte. The former Oregon standout shot 9-for-15, including 6-for-9 from 3-point range.

Evan Mobley — Cleveland Cavaliers

The highly heralded third overall pick of this year’s Draft, Mobley displayed his tantalizing versatility early and often in a game Cleveland nearly rallied to win in Memphis.

The 7-foot Mobley amassed 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block in a whopping 38 minutes, a solid opening-night sign that Cleveland intends to let its prized prospect get plenty of reps in his rookie season.

Cavs' Mobley opens his career with a smooth jumper

Scottie Barnes — Toronto Raptors

This year’s fourth overall pick flashed plenty of promise during the preseason, and he did more of the same in Toronto’s 98-83 loss to Washington. Barnes came up with 12 points, nine rebounds in his debut, but will need to cut back on the turnovers (six) while picking up more of the NBA game.

Franz Wagner — Orlando Magic

The second of Orlando’s two top-10 picks this year, Wagner showed a ready willingness to attack the paint. The German-born prospect scored 12 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal and, was only a minus-four in 32 minutes — in a game the Magic lost by 26 points.

Alperen Sengun — Houston Rockets

A favorite of many draft experts, Sengun showed why in his 18-minute debut on Wednesday. The 19-year-old Turk scored all 11 of his points in the restricted area or at the free throw line while adding six rebounds, two assists, and three steals.