Everyone knows who the top NBA rookies are this year — Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Bell, Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson, etc. But seemingly every year an unheralded rookie sees the floor more often than expected and impresses.
Take Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon for example. Brogdon, who was selected with the 36th overall pick, earned consistent playing time from the beginning and continually improved as the season progressed. Brogdon earned Rookie of the Year honors, becoming the first player selected in the second round to win the award.
Brogdon was not the only second round selection to garner recognition last year as he was joined by Willy Hernangomez, the No. 35 overall selection, on the first team All-Rookie team. Yogi Ferrell, who went undrafted last year, was tabbed for second-team All-Rookie honors. Nikola Jokic (2016 first team), Langston Galloway (2015 second team), Bojan Bogdanovic (2015, second team), and Jordan Clarkson (2015 first team) also earned All-Rookie honors after either being picked in the second round or going undrafted over the last three years.
The rest of the article will look at the rookies that I believe who could surprise in 2017-18.
Frank Jackson, Pelicans: The 31st overall pick could have possibly made a huge impact as he possesses that kind of talent this season, but New Orleans is expected to be careful with him following surgery to repair a fifth metatarsal fracture in his right foot. Jackson is not expected to be ready to go until December or January.
Wesley Iwundu, Magic: Iwundu, the 33rd overall selection, is in an ideal position with Orlando rebuilding. However, Iwundu struggled during the summer league campaign. He is currently listed third on the Magic’s depth chart.
5 NBA Rookies Who Could Surprise This Season
Tyler Dorsey, Hawks
Dorsey earned notoriety for helping propel Oregon to the Final Four last year. Dorsey was unbelievable during the Ducks tourney run, making big shot after big shot. He topped the 20-point mark in each of his five tournament games. As a result of his tourney performance, Atlanta selected the 6-4 combo guard with the 41st overall pick.
Dorsey was not overly impressive during the summer league before being shut down with a right ankle injury. But when he gets going, Dorsey can fill it up.
Dorsey is expected to help backup starting shooting guard Kent Bazemore along with Marco Belinelli. Atlanta is not expected to be a playoff team this year, so Dorsey’s playing time could see a significant bump as the season progresses.
Dwayne Bacon, Hornets
Bacon was selected with the 40th pick by Charlotte.
Bacon is a scorer who can get to the rim and excels in transition.The 22-year-old, 6-7 wing is also a good rebounder. He still needs to work on his three-point shooting and defense.
Bacon had a successful summer league despite the fact he did not shoot the ball well. Bacon averaged 15.4 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 41.8% from the field and 20.0% from the three-point line. He exploded for 29 points, on 11-of-20 shooting, against Orlando on July 6.
Bacon is currently listed fourth on Charlotte’s depth chart at shooting guard. It is conceivable he could end up backing up Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward with a good training camp. However, it is likely that Bacon ends up making several trips between Greensboro, Hornets G-League team, and Charlotte.
Thomas Bryant, Lakers
Bryant was seen as a top-20 NBA prospect following his freshman season, but he returned for his sophomore campaign and lasted to pick No. 42 by Utah.
Bryant is a rim-protector who has the ability to stretch the defense. The 6-10 big man, who possesses a 7-6 wingspan, has a high motor and is coming off a good summer league session.
Bryant averaged 5.1 points, on 66% shooting, and 3.2 caroms a game in just over 13 minutes a game. He was highly efficient registering a 1.71 points per shot and 19.28 PER.
Bryant will not see much action at the beginning of the season as he is currently behind Brook Lopez and Ivica Zubac. He should get more time as the season progresses, especially if the Lakers struggle early and/or Lopez, who is in the last year of his contract, is dealt.
Damyean Dotson, Knicks
Dotson was taken with the 44th overall pick out of the University of Houston. He recently signed a three-year deal with the first two years being fully guaranteed.
Dotson is a shooter who is very athletic and makes the right decisions with the ball. The 6-5 shooting guard could develop into a “3 and D” specialist but he is also a strong rebounder.
Dotson had a very good summer league session in Orlando, producing 12.8 points to go along with 5.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He shot 48.0% from the field and 48.0% from beyond the arc.
Dotson will not likely see a lot of action in the early going this season. At this point, Dotson is behind both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee at shooting guard. If the Knicks dispose themselves of Carmelo Anthony and Courtney Lee, it could open some playing time for Dotson.
Jordan Bell, Warriors
The Golden State Warriors bought the right to draft Jordan Bell at No. 38 in the 2017 draft for $3.5 million. Marcus Thompson of The Athletic SF Bay tweeted that the Warriors had Bell as a first round draft pick.
Bell is a defensive wizard who plays hard all the time and possesses elite athleticism. The 6-9, 22-year-old is a bit of a tweener big though his game is best suited to play the 5 position. His game mainly is predicated around shot-blocking as well as rebounding, on both ends of the floor. He can score a little around the basket.
Bell had an outstanding summer league showing in Las Vegas. Bell averaged 5.0 points, on 60.0% shooting from the field, along with 9.0 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.0 steals in five games. The 22-year-old had a fantastic all-around game on July 11 against the Timberwolves, compiling five points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five steals and six blocks.
Bell figures to have the edge in becoming the Dubs fifth big man ahead of both Damian Jones and Kevon Looney.