Connect with us

NBA

First impressions of Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and other rookie debuts

Published

on

When the NBA’s 2021-22 schedule was released, fans of the incoming rookie class could circle Wednesday night as their first chance to see the top six picks from the 2021 NBA draft in action in the regular season. At least that was the plan, until Cade Cunningham suffered an ankle injury in training camp that kept the No. 1 pick sidelined for the entire preseason and for the Detroit Pistons‘ regular-season opener against the Chicago Bulls.

Still, while Cunningham wasn’t in uniform, No. 2 pick Jalen Green — the Rookie of the Year favorite — was, as were No. 3 pick Evan Mobley, No. 4 pick Scottie Barnes, No. 5 pick Jalen Suggs and No. 6 pick Josh Giddey. They all added their names to the list of nearly 4,600 players who’ve stepped onto an NBA court in the league’s 75-year history.

Did Green look like the Houston Rockets’ franchise star? Did Mobley play like the next great two-way player? Our experts break down the rookies’ debuts and what their respective teams can take away from the performances.

MORE: Power Rankings, projections and intel for all 30 NBA teams


Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons

DNP in 94-88 loss to Chicago Bulls

play

1:27

Kendrick Perkins and Dave McMenamin analyze who has the higher ceiling between Anthony Edwards and Cade Cunningham.

Cade Cunningham’s NBA debut has been put on hold thanks to a sprained right ankle he injured near the start of training camp. However, the Pistons seem optimistic the No. 1 overall pick from the 2021 draft will be playing in games soon. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver told a Detroit radio station Wednesday he “would anticipate hopefully seeing [Cunningham] when we get back off the road.” After opening at home with a loss to the Bulls, Detroit has three consecutive road games before hosting the Orlando Magic on Oct. 30.

The Pistons have been cautious with Cunningham, who missed the entire preseason, not wanting to rush him back until he feels 100%. He has returned to practice recently and there was some hope of him playing in the season opener, but the team wanted him to build up his conditioning. When he does return, Cunningham will immediately enter Detroit’s starting lineup as the centerpiece of their young core and most promising piece of their future. Even if there are some growing pains, the Pistons are going to give him a chance to play through it. Cunningham’s size — 6-foot-8 as a guard — shooting ability and passing vision made him the top draft pick out of Oklahoma State this summer and could make him one of the top contenders for Rookie of the Year.

— Jamal Collier


9 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST in 124-106 loss to Minnesota Timberwolves

play

0:26

Jalen Green shows what he’s all about with the first two buckets of his NBA career.

Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, shot 34.7% from the floor and had more turnovers than assists during the first month of his career. Let that serve as a polite reminder for Rockets fans that patience is required with teenage shooting guards, no matter how talented.

Edwards, building off a strong finish to his rookie year, had a sensational start to his sophomore campaign at Houston’s expense, scoring 29 points in 31 minutes during the Timberwolves’ season-opening 124-106 rout of the Rockets.

Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall pick whom Houston hopes can emerge as a franchise centerpiece, certainly didn’t overwhelm anyone in his NBA debut. He finished with nine points on 4-of-14 shooting and was a game-worst minus-37 in 32 minutes.

Green arrived in the NBA with professional experience, having flourished with the G League Ignite fresh out of high school last season, but it’s no surprise that growing pains come with making the leap to the NBA as a primary offensive option for a rebuilding team.

There were glimpses of the talent that convinced the Rockets that Green had perennial All-Star potential. The first bucket of his career was a driving reverse layup over Karl-Anthony Towns that displayed Green’s rare athleticism. On the next possession, he had a crossover that caused Taurean Prince to stumble when the Minnesota wing got caught cheating toward the screen, leading to a lefty layup for Green. The rookie had four assists and no turnovers.

“That’s growth,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “That’s finding your way.”

These were the first awkward steps of a long journey for Green.

— Tim MacMahon


17 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST in 132-121 loss to Memphis Grizzlies

play

0:19

Evan Mobley gets the ball at the top of the key and goes in for the flush.

It didn’t take long for Evan Mobley to show exactly why general managers selected him as the rookie from this class most likely to be the best player when we look back five years from now.

The skilled, graceful 7-footer looked like a potential Rookie of the Year favorite in a narrow road loss to the Grizzlies, flashing the two-way versatility that earned him pre-draft comparisons ranging from Chris Bosh to Anthony Davis (who finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 0 assists and 1 block in his NBA debut).

Cleveland shifted Mobley all over the floor, playing him a team-high 38 minutes split between power forward and center. The Cavaliers used him as a creator from the elbows, played him out of short rolls, let him work as a ballhandler and facilitator, and spaced him out to the corner, where he knocked down a smooth catch-and-shoot 3-pointer.

Defensively, Mobley guarded the likes of Jaren Jackson Jr. (3-for-12 from the field), Steven Adams, Kyle Anderson and Brandon Clarke, while regularly switching out onto Grizzlies guards with respectable success. Despite being credited with just one block, he changed several shots at the rim, highlighted by an impressive verticality challenge against Ja Morant.

Mobley did lose sight of Jackson on a few different occasions and got burned for open 3s. His lack of physicality came to light for stretches, with Adams and Jackson taking him out of plays with aggressive seals in the lane. Mobley’s light frame cost him on the offensive end inside the paint at times, as well.

But even with a few very common rookie miscues, Mobley proved he’s capable of playing next to a big like Jarrett Allen for spurts or a stretch four like Lauri Markkanen, which bodes well for the Cavs moving forward. With rare length, agility, touch and feel at his disposal, it might not take Mobley five years to prove that he’s indeed the best player to come out of a loaded 2021 draft class.

— Mike Schmitz


12 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST in 98-83 loss to Washington Wizards

play

0:17

Scottie Barnes gets on the scoreboard as he floats in a lefty floater in the lane.

Despite starting in a unique lineup featuring three combo forwards and two lead guards, Barnes regularly initiated the offense. He utilized several on-ball picks as the decision maker off the dribble, but also set his share of screens for other ball-handlers as well, similar to a role Pascal Siakam played for Toronto last season.

Barnes broke down the defense off the dribble all night, but had difficulties finishing at the rim in traffic. However, he was able to draw enough defensive attention that at least one of his missed layups led to an uncontested putback dunk. Barnes’ strong passing won’t be reflected by paltry assist totals since the Raptors were ice cold for most of the game, but he did have a gorgeous assist midway through the fourth quarter, a one-handed bounce pass off the dribble to spoon feed Chris Boucher for the dunk.

Defensively, Barnes was the primary defender on Bradley Beal for a long stretch in the fourth quarter, during the time the Raptors went on a run to get back into the game. He did well moving his feet and staying in front of him, but Beal ran him off picks and the Raptors switched instead of letting Barnes fight through the pick.

On the downside, Barnes was overly aggressive on both ends of the floor, leading to six turnovers on offense and five personal fouls on defense, where he was too often caught falling for fakes or reaching to try to get his hand on the ball.

Still, Barnes’ debut held the promise of good things to come. He showed outstanding versatility at both ends of the court, flirted with a points-rebounds double-double and gave a glimpse of the positionless multi-tool player that the Raptors want him to grow into.

— Andre Snellings


Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic

10 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST in 123-97 loss to San Antonio Spurs

play

0:31

Jalen Suggs scores 10 points in his NBA debut on 3-of-14 shooting.

Jalen Suggs’ NBA debut probably won’t be one he tells his grandchildren about. He struggled offensively (10 points, 3-of-14 FG, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 30 minutes) in a disjointed, at times ugly, opening blowout loss for the Magic.

Suggs struggled to generate quality offense, settling for several difficult pullups from midrange and beyond the arc, while not finding much success around the paint either, running into brick walls or tossing up awkward floaters from difficult vantage points. Playing on and off the ball, he unselfishly looked to create for teammates but didn’t find a great balance between creating and distributing, leading to some tentative moments that forced Orlando into late-clock situations.

Suggs’ defense, considered a major selling point in college, was as good as advertised. He had multiple excellent one-on-one possessions that demonstrated his physical and aggressive approach getting over screens and containing opposing ball-handlers thanks to his quick feet and strong frame. While he had some issues losing his man off the ball, he made up for that by generating turnovers, sliding in for charges and showing terrific activity flying out on closeouts.

Suggs is clearly still adapting to the longer NBA 3-point line while attempting to figure out a role on the fly for one of the youngest teams in the NBA, one that features a dearth of perimeter shooting and playmaking. From what we saw Wednesday,, it looks like the Magic coaching staff will give Suggs a fairly long leash to play through mistakes, which should help him find more of a comfort level as he gains experience and develops better chemistry with his teammates.

— Jonathan Givony


4 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST in 107-86 loss to Utah Jazz

play

0:17

Josh Giddey finishes off the glass for his first points on debut for the Thunder.

Going against the Utah Jazz (last year’s winningest team during the regular season) and center Rudy Gobert (the reigning Defensive Player of the Year), Giddey’s NBA baptism was a challenging one. Still, Giddey showed the potential that led Oklahoma City to take him sixth overall.

That was evident on Giddey’s first NBA score, less than five minutes in, as he drove the lane right at Gobert and scored a runner off glass going left as Gobert retreated to his man. In the second quarter, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault called an after-timeout play for Giddey, who took a handoff from Kenrich Williams and used the advantage to beat Jordan Clarkson off the dribble before pulling up for a score in the paint that was in between a floater and a jumper.

The second half was more of a reality check for Giddey, given the tall task of running the point for Oklahoma City just days after turning 19. He was scoreless in 15 minutes after halftime, missing all four of his shot attempts.

With Lu Dort handling the task of defending Utah star Donovan Mitchell, Giddey spent most of his time defensively in the corners. That freed him up to make an impact crashing the glass for grab-and-go opportunities. Giddey pulled down a team-high 10 boards, becoming the first player in Thunder history to reach double-figure rebounds in his debut.

— Kevin Pelton

Source link

NBA

DeMar DeRozan, shorthanded Chicago Bulls hand Brooklyn Nets ‘bad, tough loss’

Published

on

NEW YORK — With DeMar DeRozan drawing James Harden and Kevin Durant with him on a drive into the paint, Lonzo Ball was all alone on the right wing as he launched a 3, crouched in anticipation and then turned toward courtside fans behind him after drilling a late dagger against the Brooklyn Nets.

Down four rotation players due to health and injuries, the Chicago Bulls continued their surprising start to the season by erasing an 11-point third-quarter deficit to give the Nets a stinging 111-107 loss at Barclays Center on Saturday night.

The Bulls (16-8) have won three straight games and leave New York having beaten the Knicks at Madison Square Garden and the Nets at Barclays Center on this road trip. This is also the second time this season that the Bulls outplayed the preseason favorite to win the Eastern Conference in the fourth quarter to hand the Nets a bitter loss, clinching the season series between the two teams.

“You want to be the best, you got to beat the best,” said DeRozan, who picked the Nets apart with 13 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. “Everybody talks about being best but you got to go out there. No matter if you are shorthanded, you want to be the best, you got to go out there and compete against the best.”

The Bulls entered the game shorthanded with Javonte Green and Coby White in health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19. With Patrick Williams (left wrist) already out, the Bulls started Alex Caruso at power forward but he was later ruled out due to a hamstring injury that was bothering him entering the game. Bulls coach Billy Donovan said it was a medical decision to pull Caruso and that he did not know how long Caruso might be sidelined.

The Nets (16-7) looked at this game as a big test for them. They were shorthanded themselves with Joe Harris (ankle) and James Johnson (shoulder) out to go along with Kyrie Irving, who is not with the team. But they were looking to settle a score after losing, 118-95, in Chicago on Nov. 8 and get a quality win over one of the top teams in the conference.

Brooklyn led 71-60 with 6:34 left in the third and appeared to be in control. But that cushion was gone by the 9:28 mark in the fourth. Durant scored nine of his 28 points in the fourth quarter but Harden struggled with his shot, missing 5-of-6 shots in the fourth. The Nets defense allowed Chicago to shoot 52.2% in the fourth quarter. Chicago also enjoyed a 27-to-9 advantage in free-throw attempts for the game.

“We just gotta go out there and play with some force and confidence, like we want to win,” Durant said. “And understand it’s a long game, and just stick with the game plan. It’s a bad, it’s a tough loss. … We didn’t take advantage of being up nine-10 points. We just let them stay in the game and we were supposed to just bury them.”

Harden, who recently admitted he is having difficulty finding balance between being more of a playmaker versus when to be a scorer with Irving not playing, shot just 5-of-21 overall before finishing with 14 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.

“Blame this one on me,” said Harden. “I had a lot of opportunities at the rim that I didn’t convert that could have settled this game down.”

Durant said he should’ve helped Harden more by making more shots.

“That would’ve took pressure off of him,” Durant said.

At the end, the Nets watched another struggling shooter make the game’s biggest shot. After Durant cut the deficit to 107-105 with a 3-pointer, DeRozan drove and drew Harden and Durant with him in the paint. DeRozan found Ball alone on the right wing and the point guard delivered the dagger 3, just his second of the game. Ball finished 3-for-10 overall and just 2-for-7 from behind the arc.

Ball — who had eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three blocks against the Nets — also missed 8-of-10 3-point shots in Thursday’s win over the Knicks. But the Bulls continue to develop chemistry and trust in one another as they moved to within half a game of the Nets for the lead in the East.

“It says a lot about our team,” DeRozan said of the wins against the Knicks and Nets. “How resilient. How we approach challenges. We don’t shy away from them. We accept them.

“… It is difficult to win in this league, especially coming into two hostile environments on the road, playing against two teams and the best team in our conference, to withstand the blow that we took from them throughout the whole game, to buckle down in the fourth quarter and pull out a victory.”

Source link

Continue Reading

NBA

Chicago Bulls’ Javonte Green tests positive for COVID-19, joins Coby White in protocols

Published

on

The Chicago Bulls, who played the Hornets on Monday, saw Javonte Green test positive for COVID-19 on Friday, following Coby White earlier this week.

Charlotte had four players enter health and safety protocols on Saturday.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan said before his team faced the Nets in Brooklyn Saturday night that Green had driven back to Chicago on Friday, and was feeling all right. He added that Chicago expects to continue daily testing in the wake of multiple positive tests, and that he anticipates the league continuing to tighten its protocols as time goes by.

“I think that’s happening,” Donovan said of the protocols getting stricter. “I don’t think there’s any question that’s happening. I think there’s going to be, my guess would be, stricter policies than there have been this year. To your point, I think Thanksgiving and you’re dealing with Christmas and then New Year’s … people are going to be around family. I think that the way it’s moving right now is it’s getting a little more stricter.

“Certainly for us right now it’s a lot stricter because we’ve got two players who are positive.”

Donovan also praised his players for how they’ve handled the twists and turns of the situation over the past several days.

“Well, we’re not the only ones dealing with it,” Donovan said, “but the only guys I can respond to our our guys, and our guys have been class acts, totally professional. I think they’ve handled whatever has come their way. We’re not the only team that’s dealing with it, that’s had to deal with it.

“I think there was obviously some hope and some optimism we kind of passed this going into the season. That certainly hasn’t happened. But our guys have handled it, and the whole thing about you have to control what you can control. There’s a lot of inconveniences, things can get frustrating and annoying and you worry about are you infected or are you healthy, and you’ve got a couple teammates and guys on the team who have tested positive, so I’m sure some of that stuff goes through those guys’ minds.”

Source link

Continue Reading

NBA

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo to miss second game with calf soreness

Published

on

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss Saturday’s game against the Miami Heat with right calf soreness, coach Mike Budenholzer announced before the game.

It’s the second straight game Antetokounmpo has been sidelined because of the injury, which kept him out of the second half of a back-to-back on Thursday in Toronto. Budenholzer said then he was hopeful this would be just a short-term issue.

“We’ll just take it day by day,” Budenholzer said Saturday. “See how it goes”

The Bucks’ roster has been hampered by injuries and illnesses since the start of the season, but they had won eight of their past nine games entering Saturday to storm back into the mix at the top of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

In 21 games this season, Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.6 points and 11.8 rebounds while collecting a career-high 6.0 assists and 1.7 blocks.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending