Many insiders have given their opinions on the NBA Draft 2020 class. Apparently there wasn’t enough firepower on the scoreboard. Many critics have argued that some players take 3 to 5 years to fully develop. It would be understandable if these NBA rookies didn’t come out the door with momentum.
Due to the pandemic, some players may not have had the opportunity to train fully before the start of the season. With so many gyms and indoor facilities, it was almost impossible for some to play basketball. On top of that, the NBA season, which began a month and four days after the draft, didn’t get any better either.
The young recruits had to act quickly after their organization selected them. We haven’t had time to think about the whole year yet. In the blink of an eye, these young players made their NBA debut with their teams.
Besides players like LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, there were a few rookies who stayed under the radar. Some of them may not attract much attention because their teams are being rebuilt. But so far this season, they’ve put a lot of people on the stat sheet and had an impact on both ends of the field. Let’s take a look at three recruits who are playing better than their respective spots in the draft and may go unnoticed by many.
1. Tyrese Halliburton
Many thought Tyrese Haliburton would need a few years to develop. Although he showed great talent, his speed and agility caused concern. Fortunately, Haliburton started this season on a high note, as did other young NBA recruits. For a team like Sacramento that is still looking for answers, Halliburton could be the missing piece that helps this team qualify for the playoffs.
In his 17 games this season, Haliburton averaged 11 points per game on a 47% shootout percentage. He proved to be a solid playmaker, taking the pressure off of De’Aaron Fox. Haliburton showed great chemistry with his teammates and found them for high percentage shots.
The sixth. In January, Haliburton had one of the best performances among NBA rookies against the Chicago Bulls. Most of the time on the field, Haliburton controlled the game with his ability to create and lead the offense. He could have taken down screens and made shots close to the basket. Haliburton finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Haliburton proves the critics wrong. He has real leadership instincts and can play anywhere on the field. Sooner or later, we may see Haliburton get more meaningful minutes for Sacramento.
2. Immanuel Rapidly
Immanuel Quickley shows tremendous potential with his athletic ability and IQ in basketball. Quickley has made great strides in his career with the Kentucky Wildcats and it looks like he is enjoying playing in the Big Apple for his first season as a pro.
Quickley is averaging 11.6 points per game on 39% of its shots. Many know what sniper he can be from the 3-point line. In addition, Quickly is able to secretly set up tables for his teammates. Quickley has been a source of energy for the Knicks, a role he takes on as the team’s sixth man. Although he is still in the early stages of his NBA career, he has already won the trust of his teammates and coach Tom Thibodeau, in part due to his behavior in crunch time.
One of Quickley’s best games was his 31-point performance against the Portland Trail Blazers on the 24th. January. He was on the attack from the moment he came into the game, tried to run a race on every possession. The performance even impressed Blazers guard Damian Lillard after the game. Despite this loss, Quickley consolidated his position as one of the best young stars in the NBA.
3. Peyton Pritchard
Payton Pritchard has become a favorite with Boston fans. His insistence on playing physical and making the game difficult for his opponent allowed him to gain significant minutes in Brad Stevens’ rotation. Pritchard could be a great rotation player for the championship-winning Celtics if he continues where he started.
Pritchard is averaging 7.7 points per 14 games played. He is a great shooter and plays alongside Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Pritchard shoots 42% from 3-point range and makes the defense pay by leaving him open. Defensively, it is also active on the perimeter, forcing flights and diversions. Pritchard seems like a perfect fit for the Celtics’ defensive unit.
Pritchard caught a lot of people off guard when he was appointed on the 4th. January gave up 23 points against the Toronto Raptors. Pritchard showed great agility and control of the basket by getting to the basket with ease. He was also a great playmaker for the team, playing open players around the basket for easy opportunities. With many players eliminated due to health and safety protocols, Pritchard played a key role, resulting in a big win.
In summary, these three NBA recruits were not the biggest chunks on draft day. But so far they have attracted attention for their excellent performance. The ceiling will only get higher for these three young men in the future.