Underrated NBA Rookies


Philip Alexander, Author

With rookies like Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Trae Young getting most of the attention, it’s easy to forget all of the other talented NBA rookies this season. Of course every rookie, first round and second round, is good enough to compete in the NBA, but some stand out more than others.

Using the NBA’s officials site, ESPN, and Sports Reference, here are some of these underrated rookies.

Donte DiVincenzo, who plays shooting guard for the Bucks, was the 17th pick in the first round. He is 6’5” and weighs about 201 pounds with a 6’6” wingspan. According to nba.com, he is a “do it all guard.” He plays with great spirit and intensity, not to mention his athleticism, which got him to post a 42-inch vertical, the highest at this year’s Combine. Before he got picked up, he played for Villanova. His stats for his years at college consist of 10.2 points, 4 rebounds, 2.4 assists while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three.

The Spurs always to seem to get steals. For their 18th pick they selected Lonnie Walker IV, a “long, explosive shooting guard who put points on the board in bunches from the perimeter and on the break,” according to nba.com. He is 6’5”, weighs 196 pounds, and has a 6’10” wingspan. In the year he played with the Miami Hurricanes, he scored 11.5 points, grabbed 2.6 rebounds, and got 1.9 assists. He did this while shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from behind the arch. Like DiVincenzo, Walker was a 40-inch vertical. Another skill Walker has is his defense. He has shown the ability to more than hold his own defensively in spurts, which can be a factor in the passing lanes. He has the agility and length to play defense on the perimeter effectively but is still learning how to stay consistent and avoid lapses, particularly off the ball.

Grayson Allen, at 6’5” — an average size for a shooting guard — with a 6’7 wingspan and 198-pound frame out of Duke, was selected as the 21st pick in the first round by the Utah Jazz. Allen’s NBA prospect profile states that he is a “well-decorated scoring guard whose combination of athleticism, jump shooting ability, and aggressiveness made him extremely productive in spurts over his four years at Duke.” Although people call him a “dirty player,” he still has skills. He finished the season with Duke as the team’s second leading scorer and passer. His defense is not bad either. On defense he gets in the passing lanes aggressively. Also, he only allowed 0.936 points per spot-up possession.

For the 23rd pick, the Indiana Pacers selected Aaron Holiday. His brothers, Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and Justin Holiday (Chicago Bulls) are playing in the NBA. From 2016 to 2018, Holiday played for UCLA and put up 14.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. He shot 45 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from three. He is 6’1”, an average size for a point guard. He also has a 187-pound frame. Holiday’s prospect profile on nba.com states that he has an “intriguing two-way potential” and “length and lateral quickness [that] allow him to be pesky on the ball.” This has helped him stop players from scoring on him in ISO plays, with 0.632 points per Isolation possession.

Jevon Carter, a second round (pick 32), drafted by Memphis, is a decent perimeter point guard. He is a “gritty lead guard,” according to Carter’s prospect profile in nba.com. He played a four-year career at West Virginia and earned a reputation as one of the most highly regarded perimeter defenders. At 6’2” with a 6’4” wingspan, at 196 pounds, he was the primary ball handler for West Virginia. Opposing point guards hated to be guarded by this guy. He was among college basketball’s all-time leaders in steals. He only allowed 0.673 points per one-on-one possession. He is also a good rebounder for a guard.

Kostas Antetokounmpo, the brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo, was drafted as the last pick in the second round by the 76ers and then traded to the Mavericks. Kostas is a 6’10” 195-pound power forward with a 7’2” wingspan. With his huge wingspan, he is able to block shots. With the small role that he played at Dayton Flyers, he finished as the team’s sixth leading scorer.

Angelo Jimenez, a sophomore at SFHS, said Moritz Wagner is the rookie that stands out most to him. He was drafted by the Lakers as the 25th pick in the first round. A 6’11”, 225-pound center. “He is skilled and can space the floor with his ability to shoot the ball,” Angelo said, adding that although Wagner excels offensively, he struggles defensively with his lack of length and agility.