With the 2018 NBA All-Rookie Team’s recent release and the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday, I decided to time-travel to a year from now and bring back 2019’s All-Rookie Team.
Not really, but I can say with great confidence that this is the exact group of five current draft prospects who will make the cut their rookie season.
G – Trae Young, Oklahoma
Resume: Young’s lone season with the Oklahoma Sooners was historic. He led the NCAA in scoring (27.4 points per game) and assists (8.8 per game), which is a truly incredible achievement. His electric presence on the court was must-see TV.
NBA potential: The Norman, Oklahoma, native is generously listed at 6-foot-2 on the Oklahoma depth chart, but he isn’t that. His size will make him a defensive liability, but his playmaking abilities offensively will make up for all of that.
Young will thrive if he accepts the right role, which could mean coming off the bench to begin the 2018-19 campaign. The man will be an offensive boost and nothing more in the NBA, and that’s okay. That’s all he needs to be.
Player comparison: I see a mix of two of the league’s best guards in Young’s game. He’s received Steph Curry comparisons all season thanks to his shooting range and physical stature. Young moves like Curry – smooth and elusive with the ball in his hands – but his overall offensive game is a lot like James Harden’s. He’s a legit scoring threat and a creative, dazzling passer all in one.
G/F – Luka Doncic, Real Madrid
Resume: Doncic hails from Slovenia and expects to be the highest pick among international prospects Thursday. He’s well-rounded on the court and already has four years of professional experience in Europe.
He possesses special court vision but can also shoot or attack the rim. His numbers from this past season (14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game) don’t jump off the page, but the athletic Doncic’s tape tells the whole story.
NBA potential: An overseas player has made the All-Rookie Team three of the last four seasons. Doncic will make it four of five. At 6-foot-6, he has the size to hang with NBA players and his versatility and unselfishness will serve him well, wherever he goes. Doncic may be the most NBA-ready player in the draft thanks to his previous experience as a professional athlete. At just 19 years old, he still has plenty of time to develop his game.
Player comparison: I think that Doncic is a lot like what Nikola Jokic would be if the two international players were more physically similar. The mobile Doncic has played every position except center, but in today’s NBA, he might be able to line up at all five positions.
F – Marvin Bagley III, Duke
Resume: Duke can thank Bagley III in large part for its second-place ACC finish and Elite Eight run last season. Bagley III led the ACC in scoring and rebounds with 21.0 and 11.1 per game, respectively. He was downright unstoppable at times, putting up 22 double-doubles, including a 32-point, 21-rebound performance in a 100-93 win over FSU on Dec. 30.
NBA potential: Bagley III will need to bulk up his 6-foot-11, 234-pound frame to keep up with other NBA big men, but his athleticism, scoring ability and prowess on the boards will keep the 19-year-old afloat in a grown man’s league. He’ll provide immediate reinforcements to any team’s frontcourt.
Player comparison: Physically, he’s a lesser version of Giannis Antetokounmpo – long and rangy with major hops. He’s not the distributor Antetokounmpo is, but at the same time Antetokounmpo only averaged 1.9 assists per game his rookie season.
C – Mohamed Bamba, Texas
Resume: Bamba was second in the country with 3.7 blocks per game during his lone college season. The 6-foot-11 defensive menace also led the Big 12 with 10.5 rebounds per game and was third on the Longhorns with 12.9 points per game.
He recorded at least one block in all but one game, including a season-high eight against Kansas on Dec. 29 and seven against Texas Tech on Jan. 31.
NBA potential: Bamba’s scoring ability isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible. Defense and rebounding will certainly be his calling cards at the next level.
Like Bagley III, he will need to bulk up, but his rim-protecting abilities will earn him minutes from day one. Also, his 7-foot-10 wingspan would be the longest in the entire NBA. Think about that for a second.
Player comparison: Rudy Gobert is the obvious one because of physical similarities. Gobert actually has the longest current NBA wingspan at 7-foot-9 and is one of the best defenders in the league. Expect the same from Bamba, who will become one of the best centers in the league if he develops a competent offensive game.
C – Deandre Ayton, Arizona
Resume: Ayton, a 2018 First -Team All-American, led the Wildcats to a Pac-12 championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
He was efficient and productive, leading Arizona in scoring with 20.1 points per game on over 60 percent shooting.He averaged 11.6 rebounds per game, good for sixth in the country.
Throw in Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors, and you have the predicted No. 1 pick this year.
NBA potential: At 7-foot-1 and 250 pounds, he’s the most physically ready NBA prospect on this list. Ayton still has room to grow, though. He’s already a great athlete and improving himself even further in that area is a terrifying notion for opposing centers. Ayton will give any team reliable scoring and rebounding, and his 1.9 blocks per game in college should also translate to the NBA.
Player comparison: Ayton has similar abilities as 76ers center Joel Embiid. If you’re not familiar, Embiid is one of the most dominant players in the league when healthy. Ayton isn’t as polished as Embiid today, but could easily improve his all-around game and grow into one of the NBA’s top big men.
Andrew Huang is a sports writer. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJHuang and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arizona center Deandre Ayton will look to hear his name called when the Phoenix Suns make their first-overall selection at the NBA Draft on Thursday.