Ranking NBA Rookies Most Likely to Make a Splash in 2017-18

These NBA rookies stand the best chance of lighting it up in 2017-18.

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Last season was a bummer in terms of NBA rookies lighting it up during their first years in the league. It was so bad that the Milwaukee Bucks’ second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon who Rookie of the Year despite not exactly being a revelation. That won’t be the case in 2017-18, though.

With so much young talent entering the league, we’re sure to see several rookies set the NBA on fire. While not all of them will live up to expectations in Year 1, look for at least a handful of young stars to shine bright in 2017-18. To help you prepare for the quick-approaching season, I’ve ranked the rookies most likely to make a splash between now and April.

20. PF Caleb Swanigan, Portland Trail Blazers
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One of the Summer League’s biggest standouts, Caleb Swanigan entered the league with a lot of differing opinions regarding what his future held. Some saw him as a potential Draymond Green lookalike, while others saw him as a limited power forward prospect with a great story. Based on what we’ve seen so far, the Portland Trail Blazers may have found themselves a steal at No. 26 overall. Even with Al-Farouq Aminu and Noah Vonleh vying for minutes at the 4, Swanigan should earn plenty of respect as a rookie.

19. PG Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks
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As the No. 10 pick in the 2017 draft, you’d think that Frank Ntilikina would be higher on this list. Unfortunately, the raw point guard is still a work in progress who is not guaranteed a starting job. Realistically, his long-term outlook is much brighter than his rookie-season outlook. It may take some time before he’s even starting for the New York Knicks.

18. C Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
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Missing Summer League with a hip injury didn’t help Jarrett Allen‘s cause. When it comes down to it, though, I see the physical, athletic big man forcing the Brooklyn Nets to find him minutes in 2017-18. It’s not like Timofey Mozgov, currently penciled in as the starting center, is a proven asset. Once Allen is fully healthy and shakes off the cobwebs, he’ll prove that he was well worth the investment at No. 22 overall.

17. PG Milos Teodosic, Los Angeles Clippers
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It’s not every day we see a 30-year-old rookie receiving some preseason buzz. That’s exactly what’s going on with the Milos Teodosic, the Los Angeles Clippers‘ international point guard and passing extraordinaire. Although it might be difficult for him to earn minutes early, the Serbian star could force the coaching staff to get him involved with his elite facilitating skills. Expect plenty of highlights from Teodosic throughout the 2017-18 season.

16. PF/C Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
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Between his college career and Summer League, we saw plenty to love about Bam Adebayo‘s potential. The athletic big man was a monster in the paint, wreaking havoc on the boards while pitching in early and often on offense. The only problem is that he’s currently slated for a backup role behind James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside. That means minutes won’t be easy to come by for the Miami Heat‘s 2017 first-round pick. By season’s end, though, he will have carved out a role for himself.

15. SF Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
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Another one of the stars of Summer League, Kyle Kuzma quickly confirmed his status as one of the league’s most exciting rookie shooters. I personally had some concerns about his potential when the Los Angeles Lakers selected him near the end of the first round, but he made sure my foot found its way to my mouth. It may take some time, but Kuzma will earn minutes as a rookie and put his underrated shooting skills on display.

14. SF Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic
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For the No. 6 overall pick, this seems kind of low, right? Well that’s because he’s currently battling with a bevy of capable contributors for a role in the Orlando Magic‘s forward rotation. This team simply has too much talent in the frontcourt for Jonathan Isaac to emerge as a star as a rookie. However, if injuries or a trade thins the hurd, the former Florida State and defensive-minded forward could easily see his stock rise in a hurry.

13. SF OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
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An ACL tear during his 2016-17 college season forced OG Anunoby to tumble down the draft to the Toronto Raptors at No. 23 overall. However, with full health on the horizon, it’s looking like the former Hoosier could make an impact for in the Great North sooner than expected. Even with C.J. Miles and Norman Powell ahead of him in the pecking order, Anunoby’s immense talent makes him a threat to shine immediately.

12. SG Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings
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Right now, Bogdan Bogdanovic is being criminally underrated as a key piece of this Sacramento Kings lineup. Then again, maybe that has to do with the team instead of the player. Still, the Serbian sensation deserves your respect heading into 2017-18. Slated to serve as the No. 2 shooting guard behind Buddy Hield, Bogdanovic should get plenty of run as a rookie. With what he showed during EuroBasket, the potential is sky-high for him to have a breakout season in Sacramento.

11. PF Lauri Markkenan, Chicago Bulls
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Coming into the 2017 NBA Draft, there were significant concerns about Lauri Markkenan. Although he possesses elite stretch-4 abilities and has earned sharpshooter status from outside, his size doesn’t always translate to significant rebounds and rim protection. However, during Summer League and EuroBasket, the young Finnish big man proved capable in both categories. If he can beat out Nikola Miritic for a starting job, Markkanen will be well on his way to a huge rookie season with the Chicago Bulls.

10. SG Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets
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I’m highly intrigued by Malik Monk‘s potential to be an NBA star. He’s a creative playmaker and high-flying scorer who figures to be one of the best at putting the ball in the basket in a few years. Unfortunately, finding minutes will be a challenge for him — like most of the rookies on this list. The Charlotte Hornets already boast an outstanding backcourt duo in Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. Still, keeping Monk in a limited role simply won’t be an option for the entire season.

9. PG De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
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We all know that De’Aaron Fox has the potential to light it up as a rookie. Whether or not it actually happens, though, will come down to a number of factors. He currently sits behind George Hill on the depth chart, which could limit his opportunities. Fox also needs to get stronger, or his frail frame isn’t going to hold up to the physicality of the NBA. If the right opportunity arises, though, the young guard could certainly go off for a Kings team still searching for an identity.

8. SF Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
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Based on what we’re hearing this offseason, Jayson Tatum has the potential to develop into a star in the very near future. His Boston Celtics coaches and teammates can’t stop raving about what they’ve seen from the rookie forward, and his Summer League performance would back that up. The only reason he’s not closer to the top of this list is because he’ll be fighting with Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris for minutes. That’s a steep hill to climb.

7. PF John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
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This offseason, the Atlanta Hawks underwent a complete overhaul of their roster. Now left with little in terms of proven talent, young players will be forced to step into prominent roles. While that doesn’t bode well for the Hawks’ chances of competing in 2017-18, it should be the perfect opportunity for rookie John Collins to wreak havoc on a nightly basis. The young forward dominated during Summer League, and figures to put on similar showings throughout the upcoming season.

6. SF Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns
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There’s a reason Josh Jackson was the fourth player off the board during the 2017 NBA Draft. He clearly possesses the talent to be a star for the Phoenix Suns, but may not get as many opportunities as he’d like as a rookie. T.J. Warren, who just signed a big extension, will likely start a small forward, leaving Jackson to come off the bench. When he does see the court, though, sparks should fly.

5. SG Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
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Donovan Mitchell has all the makings of an elite two-way guard who can impact the game in a number of ways. We saw during Summer League that he’s more than capable of exploding on the offensive end. Plus, he’s always been lauded as an exceptional perimeter defender, so there are no concerns there. Even behind Rodney Hood, Mitchell will convince the Utah Jazz to give him plenty of minutes as a rookie.

4. SF Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
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After missing his entire first season due to injury, Ben Simmons finds himself back in the ranks of the rookies. Now he enters 2017-18 with even greater expectations, especially with an improved supporting cast surrounding him. We’ve all seen what he brings to the table — now he just needs to actually put it on display in the NBA. If he can do that for the Philadelphia 76ers, he’ll easily be in the Rookie of the Year conversation.

3. PG Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks
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It’s already been made clear that Dennis Smith Jr. will be a focal point of the Dallas Mavericks offense in 2017-18. The uber-athletic rookie guard put on a show during Summer League and figures to do more of the same when the regular season tips off. Especially on a Mavericks team devoid of star power, Smith could see his star rise quickly this season.

2. PG Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia 76ers
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Thought you’d find Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick, at No. 1, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not quite case — at least in my opinion. The 76ers exciting new point man promises to deliver plenty of fireworks as a rookie with his explosive offensive skills and ability to create big points in a short amount of time. However, with Simmons and Embiid playing alongside him, the spotlight may not be wide enough for all three to fit.

1. PG Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers
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All of the hype right now is surrounding the Lakers’ new face of the franchise, Lonzo Ball. The flashy passer and son of the internet’s favorite (or most hated?) basketball dad has stolen the spotlight in Hollywood, and figures to keep it throughout the 2017-18 campaign. If Ball can transition what we saw during Summer League into the regular season, this Lakers team will be worth taking seriously.