Every season, the NBA acquires an array of new players. Whether they’re from overseas or colleges all over the country, they finally get the chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage in the world. After grading the rookie seasons of the top five selections in the most recent draft, it’s only fair to continue to grade these rookies. Here are the grades for picks 6-10.
6. Jarrett Culver: C-
After helping Texas Tech make it to the championship game of the March Madness Tournament, scouts were all over Jarrett Culver. His 6’6, 195 lb build made scouts see a player who’s position versatility was through the roof. Although his shooting was in question, this proved enough for him to be selected by the Phoenix Suns with the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft. He was then traded shortly to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Dario Saric and the number eleven pick. Culver looked like the perfect fit in Minnesota: a youthful playmaker to distribute to Towns and Wiggins, a scorer when needed and a solid perimeter defender. Although his first year in the league wasn’t the worst, it could have certainly been better. Culver ended the season with averages of 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists on 40% shooting from the field.
His first season in the NBA raised many questions on the shooting side of the ball. Not only did he shoot 30% from three, but he also shot 46% from the free throw line. In today’s league, this is simply unacceptable. The ability to make perimeter jump shots is essential in the NBA (aside from a few exceptions), especially for shooting guards like Culver himself. Not only was Culver highly inefficient, but he also didn’t look like a great playmaker. He only averaged two assists a game while turning the ball over once a game. It was clear that he didn’t look as comfortable as he did in college. One positive aspect of his season was his defense. Using a mixture of his height and wingspan, Culver was able to make guards pick up their dribble early into the shot clock. This eliminated both jump shots and drives to the basket. Along with this, Culver averaged about a steal a game. Overall, Culver’s potential is still fairly high. His defense is slowly becoming the best on his team and his college days prove that his offense is there. If he finds a way to make more shots and execute at the free throw line, Culver can become one of the better 2-way players in the league.
7. Coby White: B
Coming out of UNC, many teams had Coby White high on their draft boards. He was coming off of a season that consisted of averages such as 16 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds while leading a solid North Carolina offense. A combination of both playmaking and scoring convinced the Chicago Bulls to take White with the seventh pick in the NBA draft. This paired White with some youthful studs known as Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen. White managed to have himself a solid year, averaging 13 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds on a 39% field goal percentage. One thing that seemed to stick out, along with many rookies in this draft class, was his efficiency. Along with only shooting 39% from the field, White shot 79% from the free throw line. While these aren’t great percentages, he did have a pretty solid year from three, shooting about 35% from deep. Another detriment to White’s game this season was his turnovers.
White averaged about two turnovers per game in 26 minutes of play. Rookie guards tend to turn the ball over as they adjust to NBA defenses, so this wasn’t unexpected. His defense was solid, although his rotations could be improved along with his defensive IQ. One positive aspect of his defensive game is his lateral quickness. This proved to be a great attribute, allowing him to tip passes and stick with players when guarding them on the ball. Overall, White’s rookie season was pretty good. He showed that he can become one of the best marksmen in the NBA and he can create his own shot at a high level. If he becomes a bit more efficient and ultimately starts to limit his turnovers, White will be a top point guard in the league.
8. Jaxson Hayes: C+
Jaxson Hayes came into the draft as a somewhat wild card. Scouts and fans alike knew that he was a hyper-athletic center who could not only finish at the rim but defend it as well. There were still some question marks surrounding his game, mostly on the offensive side. Would he be able to develop a jump shot? Could he protect the rim at the NBA level? Was his athleticism enough to shadow the parts of his game that needed improvement? Even with these questions, the Atlanta Hawks took him with the eighth overall pick and then traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans. This coupled him with their number one overall draft pick Zion Williamson and a youthful, playmaking guard in Lonzo Ball. Hayes ended the NBA season with averages of 8 points, 1 assist and 4 rebounds on a 66% field goal percentage. With his 6’11, 220 lb build, not many were surprised that the best aspect of his game thus far has been his defense. Limiting points in the paint and swatting anything that comes near the rim is a specialty for Hayes, as he averaged about a block a game. One thing that he does need to pick up the slack for is his rebounds. As he matures, grabbing only four rebounds per game with his athletic ability and height will be simply unacceptable.
On the offensive side, Hayes was limited in a couple of ways. One reason was that the Pelicans simply have a plethora of scorers such as Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson, etc… Another way is because his offensive game isn’t necessarily built for the modern-day NBA. He can’t really step back and make a jump shot nor pull up from mid-range and sink it. His game is usually back to the basket or catching lobs and throwing it down. Overall, Hayes showed some real potential as an elite rim protector in the league. He uses his high vertical to get above the shots and send them into the stands. Hayes can certainly improve on his rebounding ability and his shot, but all in all his season was pretty solid.
9. Rui Hachimura: B+
After playing college basketball for three seasons with Gonzaga, Rui Hachimura finally declared for the NBA draft. Hachimura had improved steadily in every year playing at Gonzaga, upping his scoring averages by at least seven in each season. After averaging 19 points in his final year, he had caught the eyes of scouts around the league. This caused him to be selected with the ninth pick in the NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. The Wizards specifically took him because they already had an insane scorer in Bradley Beal and wanted a slashing forward who can occasionally take mid-range jumpers, insert Hachimura. In his first season in the league, Hachimura averaged 13 points, 2 assists and 6 rebounds on an efficient 49% from the field. As the season went on, Hachimura established himself as one of the best finishers in the league.
Whether there was someone under the basket or not, the ball seemed to go in the bucket every time. Along with finishing at the rim, his ability to grab rebounds was insanely useful to his team. One detriment has been his defense. Although he is capable of guarding others the same size as him, he’s been somewhat struggling to stay with them. He did make huge strides on that side of the ball as the season progressed, so worrying should be minimal. Overall, Hachimura was very underrated this season. He did what was expected of him and more. He will certainly be a key piece moving forward for a Wizards squad who is trying to piece it together.
10. Cam Reddish: C+
Cam Reddish is one of the most mysterious players taken in this draft. Coming out of college, not many scouts knew Reddish’s full potential. Playing alongside both Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett in college limited Reddish in a way that not many people are limited; he had two top three picks on his team. Although he had two highly ranked players on his team, Reddish still managed to hold his own. He averaged 14 points, 2 assists and 4 rebounds per game in his only year at Duke. This season was enough for him to be selected with the tenth overall pick in the NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks. Known as an offensive threat who could light it up from deep, many were disappointed by his first season in the league. Reddish had averages of 11 points, 2 assists and 4 rebounds on 38% shooting from the field. Using his tight handle and 6’8 height, Reddish surprised many when he started to drive and finish at the rim rather than stay out on the perimeter and shoot. Although he shot 33% from beyond the three point line, it looked as though he was more comfortable driving to the lane.
Reddish had a bit of trouble with keeping the ball in his team’s possession, averaging about two turnovers per game. The part of his game that really surprised people was his defense. Over the years, Reddish has not been given that much praise for his defense. It’s always been looked at as solid, but not good by any stretch. This past NBA season. Reddish’s defense was very good. In Atlanta’s defensive gameplan, he was usually matched up with players smaller than him, and he took advantage. Averaging just over a steal per game and a block per game, Reddish made sure that no easy buckets were scored on him. Overall, Reddish surprised many, both good and bad. His offense was predicated more on driving rather than shooting, and this had mixed results. Although his percentage from three wasn’t horrible, his overall shooting percentage was way under the league average. On the defensive side, Reddish surprised many with his ability to get through screens, make smart defensive rotations and overall just stick with his guy. If he figures out his offense and keeps playing defense as he has, there’s no doubt Reddish will be a contributing member to a team for years to come.