Predicting Top Bucket-Getters from 2019-20 NBA Rookie Class
The 2019 NBA draft class includes a number of rookie scorers who get buckets in a variety of ways.
They'll each have different roles and specialties in terms of how they generate their offense.
To give you an idea of how those specifics will shake out, we predicted the points-per-game leader, the master of the mid-range and post, the most potent and effective shooter from long range, the top transition weapon, the most complete and well-rounded scorer, the best microwave scorer and the slickest out of isolation.
Top Points-Per-Game Scorer: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
While the term "bucket-getter" is typically given to flashy one-on-one players, Zion Williamson figures to lead all rookies in scoring just by tapping into his power, explosion and quickness, mostly off first-step blow-bys, cuts, offensive rebounds and transition chances.
He'll benefit from having high-IQ passers Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday, plus shooters JJ Redick, Frank Jackson and Nicolo Melli to open up the floor.
Still, Williamson was efficient at Duke when given the chance to create, having generated 1.061 points per possession (PPP) out of isolation (89th percentile), 1.273 PPP as a pick-and-roll scorer (99th percentile) and 1.312 PPP out of the post (99th percentile). His ball-handling moves can be effective when he's given space, while the ability to launch himself toward the rim from outside the restricted area can be uncommonly advantageous for creating easier scoring chances.
Even without a jump shot early in his career, Williamson should come close to scoring 18 points per game, shooting in the 55-60 percent range from the floor for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Best Transition Scorer: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies ranked last in the NBA in pace in 2018-19, per ESPN. That figures to change this season after they drafted Ja Morant, who led the nation in transition points per game at Murray State.
Assuming the young Grizzlies have trouble scoring in the half court, head coach Taylor Jenkins should be extra motivated to push the tempo and create easier opportunities before opposing defenses can set. That plays to his rookie star's strengths.
In 33 games last season, Morant logged 174 possessions as the fast-break initiator and ball-handler. He's arguably more effective at finding teammates in the open floor, but Morant's change of direction, speed and explosion will still consistently translate to layups and dunks with more than 18 seconds on the shot clock.
Best Mid-Range-to-Post Scorer: Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards
A significant development through the FIBA World Cup's early stages has been Rui Hachimura's play.
The Washington Wizards rookie's post and mid-range skill sets have popped, just as they did at Gonzaga, where he generated 1.042 PPP on post-ups (90th percentile) and shot 59.6 percent on jump shots inside 17 feet.
Through four exhibition games for Japan, Hachimura shot 15-of-34 between the restricted area and the arc (per The Stepien's Spencer Pearlman), scoring off fallaways, pull-ups, jab steps into jumpers and short drives.
He excels while playing with his back to the basket, using his strength to absorb contact and his shot-making skill over the shoulder. Facing up, he effectively times his rise-and-fire jumpers and gets good balance while elevating straight up. And he has a quick first move to get past his man from the elbows.
The Wizards can feature Hachimura anywhere from the high posts to the short corners and block. And given the team's low expectations and underwhelming frontcourt, there will be no shortage of opportunities for the No. 9 pick.
Between Hachimura's projected role and performances during July and August, he looks like a good bet to emerge as an All-Rookie first-teamer.
Best Long-Range Scorer: Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Darius Garland's perimeter-scoring polish presumably gave him an edge over more proven prospects at No. 5 in the draft.
The Miami Heat's Tyler Herro and Boston Celtics' Carsen Edwards have a case to be the top long-range bucket-getter among rookies, but between Garland's history and projected role, he'll threaten to lead the class in both threes per game and three-point percentage.
He should have a green light to fire away in Cleveland, playing starter's minutes for a team that will prioritize development over winning.
Despite the limited sample size of action due to a knee injury suffered in his fifth game at Vanderbilt, Garland has demonstrated convincing fundamentals and accuracy, both as a pull-up and spot-up shooter.
Before even arriving at Vanderbilt, his four threes during the Nike Hoop Summit elevated his reputation. Then in four games last season, he shot 11-of-23 from three, including 6-of-9 on catch-and-shoot chances, a notable stat, considering he'll play minutes off the ball while sharing it with Collin Sexton.
The eye test loves his shot preparation, footwork and quick, concise release.
Questions or concerns with Garland stem from his decision-making and finishing in the paint. But his distance shot-making points to a high floor, as well as a player who can instantly score in the NBA.
Most Complete Scorer: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat
Tyler Herro won't finish No. 1 in points per game or three-point percentage among rookies. He'll still look like the most complete three-level scorer of the group.
He averaged 19.8 points per game in summer league, scoring in variety of ways while working on and off the ball.
The pull-up is his weapon of choice, as he shot 44.5 percent on dribble jumpers last season, using transition, ball screens and vulnerable closeouts out of a spot-up position. Herro demonstrates picturesque balance while elevating—both off the catch and bounce.
Inconsistency may lead to lower percentages, but Herro is dangerous from three (2.8 per game in July) and excellent in the mid-range, where he shot 47.8 percent last season.
Between his balance and touch, he also shot a superb 53.8 percent on runners at Kentucky.
A shot-making whiz loaded with confidence, Herro doesn't let misses affect his game or rhythm. Even with Jimmy Butler and Justise Winslow occupying the wings in Miami, the No. 13 pick's well-rounded offensive attack will earn him minutes and production right away.
Best Microwave Scorer: Carsen Edwards, Boston Celtics
Terry Rozier's move to Charlotte has created the ideal role for Carsen Edwards, who'll play to his strengths as a streak-scoring bucket-getter off the Boston Celtics' bench.
He hit the 30-point mark seven times last season at Purdue and buried 28 three-pointers through four NCAA tournament games. He just averaged 19.4 points in summer league. Right away, the Celtics will value Edwards' shot-making and ability to catch fire.
Even though he only converted 35.2 percent of his jump shots, Edwards ranked fourth in the country in jumpers made per game (4.3) and fourth in total three-pointers (135).
Between his need to shoot in volume and his involvement in a rotation with Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart, the No. 33 pick won't have the longest leash. But coach Brad Stevens will want to milk Edwards' streak-scoring when his confidence is pumping.
Edwards will have the chance to immediately begin establishing a reputation as an effective NBA sixth man. Bank on games where Edwards helps spark the Celtics' second unit with microwave offense.
Slickest Iso Scorer: Kevin Porter Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers
Decision-making and shot selection will lead to a lengthier NBA-ready timetable for Kevin Porter Jr. But his rookie highlight tape, even if short, will still point to exciting optimism and long-term potential.
He's one of the class' most advanced shot-creators, with a bag that includes step-back jumpers, spin moves, crossovers into pull-ups and behind-the-back dribbles into pull-backs. Porter possesses a pure scorer's mentality and a nifty skill set—from his handles to shot-making—that he can execute with crowd-pleasing flash.
Porter may need years to learn team basketball and how to score within the offense's flow. However, he'd be one of the class' top seeds in a one-on-one tournament. At some point during the Cavaliers' season, which will likely include frequent losses, Porter figures to have a chance to play through mistakes.
Despite projected inefficiency and lack of production, his bucket-getting rookie mixtape will be one to watch.
Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports