In Part I of our NBA season review, we take a closer look at how the Rookie class of 2020 performed and which where the hits and misses of the teams in the lottery.
Don’t miss out on collecting your favorite Rookie by visiting our marketplace and shopping either for the Panini Hoops 2020-21 Complete Rookie Set or for individual cards from rookie studs like LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards.
This was considered to be a relatively weak draft class but the top picks didn’t really disappoint other than, well – ahem- James Wiseman, and plenty of sleepers emerged from the beginning of the season while other guys finished the season strong and on a high note leaving much promise for the future!
Here is what the lottery would look today if we were to redraft the 2020 NBA Rookie class.
No. 14: Jaden MacDaniels, PF, Minnesota Wolves
6.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 triples, 1.0 block and 0.6 steals in 63 games (27 starts) and 24.0 minutes per game
Not many people are aware of his background, but McDaniels was considered to be the No. 1 prospect of this class long before having a down freshman season at Washington. After falling to the Wolves in the first round and the 28th pick, he had some bright moments this season showing flashes of being able to defend multiple positions and shooting the 3 while he is very comfortable handling the ball and has great shot blocking instincts. He is somehow still raw and needs to work hard on his body as he is too lean and has trouble getting to the free throw line but the upside is there and he is a guy I’m keeping an eye on as he can have an impact on both ends of the floor.
Card market: The window of opportunity seems to be closed right now but I’m still trying to buy low.
No. 13: Devin Vassell, SF, San Antonio Spurs
5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.8 triples and 0.7 steals in 62 games (7 starts) and 17.0 minutes per game.
Vassell played sporadic minutes in his rookie season for a team that was loaded on the wings, but the Spurs trusted him to start at the end of the year and he seems to be on track to become a solid 3-and-D guy in the league. It usually takes a couple years to earn the trust of Pop while he has to continue to grow physically but his shot has already translated at the NBA level and he projects to be a big part of the rebuilding Spurs going forward.
Card market: Just 20 years old so you gotta be able to make a leap of faith in believing that he turns out to be the real deal.
No. 12: Onyeka Okongwu, C, Atlanta Hawks
4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks and 0.5 steals in 50 games (4 starts) and 12.0 minutes per game.
Okongwu came into the Draft with questions about his health and he had a foot issue which caused him to struggle and miss games at the beginning of the season, while he surprisingly looked somehow undersized on the court and not as impactful defensively as the Hawks have hoped. Still, Nate McMillan loved his defensive instincts and the ability to step up in the perimeter and switch in ball screens using his active hands and versatility, giving him more minutes as the season progressed. Okongwu belongs to a category of players that don’t have the elite physical profile and he needs time to adjust and find his role in the NBA but the Hawks are fine with this as they have Clint Capela in the middle.
Card market: Another prospect who didn’t disappoint but showed enough promise, he has limitations (not a stretch big and poor free throw shooter) which puts a limit to his upside so I’m not very high on his long term outlook.
No. 11: James Wiseman, PF/C, Golden State Warriors
11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.9 blocks in 39 games (27 starts) and 21.4 minutes per game.
It has been a disappointing season for Wiseman but the high ceiling is still there due to a rare combination of length, athleticism and skill that not many kids have. We knew he was going to struggle with the speed of the game mainly due to not having played professionally basketball the last couple seasons and he hasn’t been dominant in the paint showing a tendency to play more as a face up jump shooter rather than a post player so there are many questions about his future right now. The Warriors exercised patience with him and had their veterans nourish him but after he got injured Golden State was a whooping +11.5 without him on the floor and it’s very possible that the team looks to move him in the summer for a more mature and ready-to-contribute player.
Card market:: His value is almost at rock bottom right now so he is someone you can potentially buy low.
No. 10: Isaiah Stewart, PF/C, Detroit Pistons
7.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.3 blocks in 68 games (14 starts) and 21.4 minutes per game.
There were many questions about his size coming into Draft Night but “Beef Stew” has been unbelievable, providing the Pistons with the motor, the energy, the tenacity and the physicality they were missing, while playing above the rim and proving to have the ability to contribute outside of the paint as well, effectively switching in ball screens and stretching the floor. He clearly leapfrogged James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu as the most impactful big in the 2020 rookie class and he projects to be a tremendous backup center/forward for years to come.
Card market: His strong play at the end of the season inflated his value but I’m buying if the price is right as he looks one of the safest picks in the long run.
No. 9: Desmond Bane, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 triples and 0.6 steals in 68 games (17 starts) and 22.3 minutes per game.
Bane was known as one of the best shooters coming into the draft and even though he was the last pick in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft he lived up to his reputation finishing with 47/43/82 shooting splits in his rookie season. A very valuable commodity, as he is someone that can shoot the ball and defend multiple positions, Bane is a classic example of a 3-and-D prospect whose game materializes great in today’s game and the Grizzlies nailed another pick in recent years.
Card market: No star potential but he projects as a solid role player for years.
No. 8: Deni Avdija, F, Washington Wizards
6.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 triple and 0.6 steals in 54 games (32 starts) and 23.2 minutes per game.
Avdija had an up and down season going through a big adjustment period before spraining his ankle but he showed plenty of versatility and improved as a shooter as the season progressed. He can move the ball in transition and has the potential defensively but his percentages need to improve and he must find ways to impact the game on both sides of the game. The issue here is that he has been very successful with the ball in his hands but that’s not going to happen in Washington as long as Russell Westbrook remains there and it’s tough to say what the future holds for him. The Wizards specifically have a long tracking record of bad decisions with their draft picks and Avdija might have to wait for a few years before he is finally unleashed.
Card market: He proved to be ready for the physicality of the game and I’m buying stock right now as everything screams that he belongs.
No. 7: Immanuel Quickley, G, New York Knicks
11.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 triples and 0.5 steals in 64 games (3 starts) and 19.4 minutes per game.
Quickley was probably the biggest surprise out of this rookie class and the truth of the matter is that not many people saw this coming. There is a long history of Kentucky guards like Tyler Herro and Jamal Murray that perform way better than how they did in college where they are put into a box and don’t have the necessary spacing around them, but the NBA is a whole different animal. Dynamic, quick and able to shoot from all over the floor, Quickley is very valuable in today’s NBA and even though he is not a franchise player, he is a very nice piece to have going forward.
Card market: Extremely volatile value due to him playing in one of the top markets in New York so you probably have to overpay to get his cards today.
No. 6: Isaac Okoro, G, Cleveland Cavs
9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 triples and 0.9 steals in 67 games (all starts) and 32.4 minutes per game.
Okoro didn’t have the defensive impact that the Cavs were hoping for when they drafted him as his size has proved to be an issue but he was a positive in his rookie season regardless. His tenacity has been amazing, he has been a winner at every level and he can do the little things, while his toughness and durability are the reason why coaches love him. It’s certain that he will continue to improve as he has the work ethic and the discipline to do so but he won’t be the next Jimmy Butler due to the limitations with his shooting. His upside will depend a lot on who he plays next as he proved to be too little for the small forward position and the Cavs need to make a decision about their backcourt going forward.
Card market: One of the rookies that flew under the radar so there is time to invest with the hope that he has another level to his game.
No. 5: Saddiq Bey, SF, Detroit Pistons
12.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.5 triples and 0.7 steals in 70 games (53 starts) and 27.3 minutes per game.
The Pistons absolutely nailed their draft picks last summer and Bey was a tremendous find who looked like a veteran in his rookie year. With the ability to play both wing positions and hold his ground against bigger and better opponents he finishes the season with averages of 12.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 triples and 1.4 assists on 40/38/84 splits. He is already 22 years old and it doesn’t seem like he has much room to develop but Bey projects as a long term 3-and-D guy in the league.
Card market: Solid role player but age and lack of room to improve makes him a sell rather than a buy.
No. 4: Patrick Williams, SF/PF, Chicago Bulls
9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 triples, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks in 71 games (all starts) and 27.9 minutes per game.
Williams was thought to be a reach at the No. 4 but the young forward projects really good long term and his shooting, which was the biggest question before the draft, has already materialized, with him shooting surprisingly well behind the 3-point arc. The kid made his corner threes, his defensive effort was phenomenal and he got the minutes that will help him to develop playing next to veterans. He looks like he is just scratching the surface of his potential and the Bulls should feel good about their young forward who should be a great complimentary piece. Chicago traded away their first round pick this year to the Magic (top-4 protected) and Lauri Markkanen seems on his way out so Williams looks like a building block moving forward.
Card market: Hard to gauge what his ceiling is so he looks like a moderate buy at this point.
No. 3: Tyrese Haliburton, G/F, Sacramento Kings
13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.1 triples, 1.3 steals and 0.5 blocks in 58 games (20 starts) and 30.1 minutes per game.
Tyrese Haliburton is the clear No. 3 after LaMelo and Anthony Edwards in this year’s class, an all-around basketball player with a broad skill set which made it hard for scouts to see what his ceiling was. Haliburton proved to be better as a pick-n-roll playmaker and shooter with efficiency off the charts and many teams quickly regretted not picking him up earlier in the draft. The truth of the matter is that analytics were great for him but scouts and executives simply didn’t buy these numbers and once he stepped on the open floor with De’Aaron Fox it was easy to see how much he can impact the game. Haliburton did average 1.3 steals per game but he finishes the season ranked in the bottom 3 of DPRM with a Kings squad that had the second worst defensive rating in the history of the NBA so there are areas where he needs to continue to improve.
Card market: His dynamic play has created tremendous hype since the very first few weeks of the season driving the prices up and unless you can still stock up on his cards the price won’t be right for a while.
No. 2: Anthony Edwards, SG, Minnesota Wolves
19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.4 triples, 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks in 72 games (55 starts) and 32.1 minutes per game.
Edwards needs to improve his efficiency and increase his defensive intensity in order to become a complete player but otherwise he proved that he can lead the NBA in scoring with an intriguing combination of athleticism and explosiveness. Finding a player who can consistently manufacture offense off the dribble and attack the defenses relentlessly is not an easy job and the Wolves nailed their pick with a charismatic kid who is going to have a long career in the NBA.
Card market: The window of opportunity was there in the very first few weeks of the season where Edwards failed to see consistent minutes but after that he price skyrocketed.
No. 1: LaMelo Ball, G, Charlotte Hornets
15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.8 triples and 1.6 steals in 51 games (31 starts) and 28.8 minutes per game.
As well as Anthony Edwards played after the very first few months of the season and as well as the Wolves have looked at the tail end of the year, you have to go with LaMelo Ball here, a kid that showed tremendous upside while possessing so many qualities you just can’t teach. We all knew that his passing, his playmaking and his size were going to have an impact in today’s NBA and the shooting was a concern but not many people saw we this happening so fast! A wrist injury sidelined him for some 20 games but LaMelo finished the season averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.8 triples and 1.6 steals on 44/35/76 splits. A future star and one of the brightest talents in the NBA, he became just the third player in the history of the game to average 15, 5 and 5 before the age of 20, after Luka Doncic and LeBron James!
Card market: In case you haven’t noticed, buying as much stock as you can, if you can!
Stay tuned for Part II as next week we will deep dive into the rest of the rookie class examining guys like Aleksej Pokusevski and Cole Anthony among others.
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