The Lottery Picks Have Been Doing Some Things. Their Xmas Grades

A

Luka Doncic (3rd pick). The front runner for Rookie of the Year. He has the  Mavericks in the playoff hunt because Luka is the Great White Hope…so far. 18.2 points, 6.7rebounds. He’s not wowing anyone with efficiency, 43%, but his 35% from three isn’t bad for a rookie and he totally shook the Rockets when he outscored them 11-0 to beat them single handedly. Whatever it is, Luka has it.

Deandre Ayton (1st pick). He hasn’t surprised anyone. He’s not Joel Embiid and isn’t supposed to be. But he has skill on the block. He is in Phoenix so that means Robert Sarver sadness. But Ayton is living up to the number one pick hype even if he can’t save the wretched Suns. He’s dropping a double-double, 15 and 10.  His offensive rating is 115, higher than Doncic’s. In the last three minutes, he is shooting 62%. All in all, he is everything he is supposed to be. The jump shot will get better as will his defense.

Jaren Jackson (4th pick). There isn’t a more perfect situation that Jackson’s. He is replacing Zach Randolph a year after the Grizzlies said goodbye to Randolph. With Marc Gasol as his tag team partner, Jackson has been able to make a strong presence in the paint. He blocks shots, rebounds, defends his position. He isn’t a scorer yet and he doesn’t have to be in this early part of his career. But he’s turning heads with his defensive impact. Another skilled Tom Izzo NBA product. 13 points, 1.8 blocks. His defensive rating of 103 is better than a lot of 10 year vets.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th pick). Shai has a beautiful game. He’s long and defends his position with his length. He can get to the rim with ease. He has that Tracy McGrady elegance. It just looks easy for him on the court. He’s a perfect Doc Rivers disciple, coachable and getting better game after game after game. If he can get a jump shot, he’s an All-Star in the making. He can make shots, 47%, 36% from three, and he’s consistent. With the quarter draining down, he shoots 47%. If he gets Kawhi Leonard as a teammate, his career is going to take off.

B+

Collin Sexton (8th pick). Collin came into a very tough situation. LeBron left and a team of vets were looking at Sexton with the side-eye. His early struggles toughened him up a little bit and now he is ballin’. 44%, 40% from three, 42% of his jumpers go in. He is averaging 15.3 points. He’s not much of a ball distributor and he definitely needs to work on that part of his game. He is lightening fast. As typical of his age group, defense is pathetic. He has the worst defensive rating of all the lottery picks. At the end of games, he’s an offensive liability.

Marvin Bagley (2nd pick). Bagley is what everyone thought. He can make shots but isn’t physical enough to be a dominant rebounder yet. On the year, he is putting in 13 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. He is currently suffering through a knee situation but you can see the Bagley promise. He runs the floor for a team that is a high flying 3-point shot making seven seconds or less blur. Bagley’s defense was always going to be a work in progress. He doesn’t have the footwork or the physicality nor the jumpshot. But you can count on him late in games to be efficient and at the rim.

Trae Young (5th pick). What was sweet about Luka andTrae going back in forth for Rookie of the Year the first six weeks was they were traded for one another. Atlanta drafted Doncic. Dallas drafted Young. Then they switched. Young came into the league with baggage. He was a ball hog. He couldn’t shoot. He wasn’t Steph Curry on his best day. And then Trae just went full throttle Trae Young. Draining threes left and right. And missing threes left and right. But he turned it all the way up when he was in Staples Center and only a Tyson Chandler block saved the Lakers from Trae Young mania.  His numbers aren’t splashy. 37% and 24% from three and 30% on jumpers. His defense is what everyone expected, a 118 defensive rating.  But he has something. The Hawks say that something is worth 15 points a game.

Wendall Carter (7th pick). No one is talking about Carter because he plays on the dysfunctional Bulls but he is off to a great start. 10.6 points, 6.8 rebounds as a starter, logging 25 minutes. He doesn’t space the floor and his jumpshot needs work but he is a nice post player for the Bulls. The best thing about Carter is he has a feel for the game. Even though he’s a raw talent, he understands how to play.

B

Mohamed Bomba (6th pick). Bomba comes off the bench for valuable minutes. He is a big who can drain a three, defend and block shots. He runs the court pretty well. His jumpshot needs work. This early in his career he is a key role player with athleticism but he needs more bulk up front to be able to play 28 minutes a game and finish in traffic. Right now, he is a floor spacer. At some point, he’s going to have to develop a post game. 6.8 points, 4.6 rebounds.

Miles Bridges (11th pick). A super athlete whose  Hornet dunks make your mouth hang wide open. He plays 20 minutes a game and should play even more. He can drain the rock on dunks and layups but not so much on jumpshots. He doesn’t believe in passing the ball though. If he gets it, he’s going to take a shot and why not? His offensive rating is 113. His defense is typical of a super athlete who thinks he can use his athleticism instead of footwork but he’ll grow in that capacity. He looks like a 15 or 16 ppg scorer if you give him 30 minutes and think a NBA offense James Harden style is the way to go.

C

Kevin Knox (9th pick). The Knicks rookie is having the kind of rookie pains most rookies go through. Sorry Knick fans, no ROY here. Knox has to develop in New York with all eyes on him. His shooting is abysmal. He’s not a particular strong offensive rebounder. The only decent part of his game has been the 3-ball.  He gets manhandled defensively which is what you would expect. It’s hard to see in these early stages of his career what kind of player Knox will be. He has to develop a lot of his game first but the potential is there. Will he meet his potential? That’s the question.

Mikal Bridges (10th pick).  It’s been tough at times for Bridges. He’s playing for a Suns team with a rookie head coach. So far, Bridges hasn’t shown any kind of toughness in the post to grab rebounds. His shotmaking is okay. Defense is a work in progress. To his credit, he plays a lot of minutes for a rookie (24) and that is a good thing for his learning curve. He spaces the floor and is seeing how hard it is to make an impact as a rookie whose shot isn’t polished yet.

Incomplete

Jerome Robinson (13th pick) Foot injury.

Michael Porter (14th pick) Back surgery.