NBA Rookies Who Already Look Like Stars in 2017-18

Several NBA rookies have already emerged as stars during the 2017-18 season.

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It probably seems like longer, but we’re not even an entire month into the 2017-18 NBA season. Despite that, it’s been a whirlwind through the first few weeks. The Cleveland Cavaliers have underwhelmed, the Boston Celtics have shined despite an ugly injury to their star player in the opener, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are somehow one of the worst teams in the Western Conference.

Today, though, I want to focus on what we’ve seen from the incoming class of rookies. It feels as if, more than in previous years, this group of first-year players has been making an unmistakable early impact. Although there’s a clear frontrunner for 2017-18 Rookie of the Year, there’s no denying that race could heat up in the coming months.

With that in mind, let’s take a gander at a handful of rookies who are already looking like stars this season.

Ben Simmons, SF, Philadelphia 76ers
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The early favorite for 2017-18 Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons has lit it up this season. He’s been a big part of the Philadelphia 76ers‘ success this season, making an impact in just about every aspect of the game.If Simmons keeps producing at this pace, he could be headed for the All-Star game.

Jayson Tatum, SF, Boston Celtics
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Although not to the extent of Simmons, Jayson Tatum has quickly made his presence felt on both ends of the floor for the Celtics. Not only has he been a scoring machine, but he’s cleaning the glass well and making life difficult for opponents. Gordon Hayward‘s injury was awful, but it opened a door for Tatum to shine like he currently is.

Lauri Markkanen, PF, Chicago Bulls
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There was a lot of speculation around whether or not Lauri Markkanen‘s college success would translate to the NBA. Well it didn’t take look for him to prove that he was well worth the No. 7 pick. He’s been one of the lone bright spots on a bad Chicago Bulls team, and appears to have a blindingly bright future in the Windy City.

Kyle Kuzma, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
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What a revelation Kyle Kuzma has been for the Los Angeles Lakers. Most folks (including myself) overlooked him after the draft, focusing instead on Lonzo Ball as the new face of the franchise. However, through the early part of the season, Kuzma has been the more reliable offensive threat who brings a contagious energy to the floor.

Dennis Smith Jr., PG, Dallas Mavericks
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There was so much hype surrounding Dennis Smith Jr. during the preseason, due in large part to his ridiculous athleticism and offensive skill set. For the most part, he’s carried it over to the regular season as the Dallas Mavericks‘ starting point guard. Smith still needs some work, but all of the flashy plays are still present. More good things are still to come with the dynamic playmaker.

Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz
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Honestly, after seeing what Donovan Mitchell is capable of, I’m surprised he slipped all the way to No. 13 overall. Although his rookie season got off to a bumpy start, the Utah Jazz‘ top pick has quickly unlocked the explosive offensive skills that got fans excited during the preseason. The loss of Hayward hurt this franchise, but the emergence of Mitchell is a solid silver lining.

Jordan Bell, PF, Golden State Warriors
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There’s a reason the Golden State Warriors bought the draft rights to Jordan Bell — he fits the Draymond Green mold of a tough, tenacious defender who overwhelms opponents with his relentless motor. Despite limited minutes through his first few NBA games, Bell is turning heads and proving yet again that the Warriors possess one of the league’s best scouting department.

De'Aaron Fox, PG, Sacramento Kings
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It hasn’t all been perfect for De’Aaron Fox through the early parts of his rookie campaign. Despite that, he’s quickly asserting himself as one of the most difficult point guards to defend in the NBA. His quickness, agility and athleticism are elite, and he continues to put those traits on display on a nightly basis. Once his game undergoes some refinement, Fox will rank among the league’s top 1 guards.

John Collins, PF, Atlanta Hawks
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We knew John Collins would get plenty of run amidst a rebuilding Atlanta Hawks lineup. However, we had no idea just how terrific the Wake Forest product would be early during his rookie season. He’s already proven to be an elite rebounder who brings tenacity and an imposing physical presence to the Atlanta frontcourt.

Josh Jackson, SF, Phoenix Suns
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The Phoenix Suns knew they were getting a raw talent when they drafted Josh Jackson at No. 4 overall. It’s shone through the first few weeks of the season, but we’ve also seen glimpses of the talent and potential that got Jackson drafted so high. His defensive skills could be elite some day soon, and his athleticism is helping him shine on the offensive end as well.

Milos Teodosic, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
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Who? Yeah I know — if you’re not a diehard NBA fan or follower of the Los Angeles Clippers, chances are you’re unaware of who Milos Teodosic is. However, it’s time to get to know the name. The former Euroleague star and 30-year-old Serbian is already showing off his dazzling passing skills while also displaying better scoring efficiency than expected. There isn’t much room for growth, but Teodosic is already convincing the Clippers they made a wise investment.

Lonzo Ball, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
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Surprisingly, Ball has underwhelmed at the start of what was supposed to be a magical season for the Lakers’ new superstar. While he’s done good work as a passer and makes some solid defensive plays, his shooting has been horrid. On top of that, he’s turning it over far too often. Still, it’s the little things he’s doing well — cleaning the glass, hustling on defense and setting up teammates for quality shots. Now if he could just get over his own scoring woes.

Dillon Brooks, SF, Memphis Grizzlies
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Dillon Brooks hasn’t been a superstar by any means, but the Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t have asked for much more from their second-round pick. The Oregon product has outplayed his draft status, earning a few starts, seeing plenty of minutes and making a sizable impact for this Memphis lineup on both ends of the floor. Looks like the Grizzlies got a big-time steal in Brooks.

Frank Ntilikina, PG, New York Knicks
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We knew from the get go that the New York Knicks were going to bring along Frank Ntilikina slowly. Despite his reduced role to begin his rookie campaign, the Frenchman has done a terrific job of earning some early respect. There’s still work that needs to be done with his offensive game, but his pestering defense has been invaluable as the Knicks look to make some noise in the East.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Sacramento Kings
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Injuries limited him to start the season, but Bogdan Bogdanovic didn’t wait long after that to prove his immense talent in the shooting department. He’s already made a name for himself with a lethal stroke that has the Sacramento Kings excited about his future. If his acclimation to the NBA can happen rapidly, we could see him emerge as one of the league’s best rookies of 2017-18.

Malik Monk, SG, Charlotte Hornets
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Another raw prospect with immense potential, Malik Monk is just starting to gain his bearings in the NBA. While that may be the case, he’s already given the Charlotte Hornets a glimpse of the ridiculous offensive weapon he can be. It’s going to take some time before he develops into a true star, but I’m confident Monk will reach that level sooner rather than later.

Mike James, PG, Phoenix Suns
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No one was sure what to expect from Mike James after he brought his talents from the Euroleague to the Suns. Since landing in Arizona, he’s done nothing but impress. Despite his limited size and athleticism, he makes smart, instinctive plays that have helped this Phoenix team pull off more wins than it probably should have up to this point.

Bam Adebayo, C, Miami Heat
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Much like Bell, Bam Adebayo has quickly asserted himself as a defensive force to be reckoned with for the Miami Heat. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but his rebounding and rim-protecting talents simply can’t be denied. Even with Hassan Whiteside earning most of the recognition in the Miami frontcourt, Adebayo has lived up to his first-round billing so far.