The 2020-21 NBA season officially tipped off this week with each team hitting the court to much fanfare following a historic, shortened training camp period.
With a new season upon us, there is a new opportunity for teams and players to leave their mark in the league. Organizations made plenty of changes during the offseason in preparation for what projects to be a challenging season ahead.
The incoming class of rookies look to make the most of a difficult transition to the NBA given the circumstances. The players have put forth some strong performances thus far during the preseason and look to continue that momentum into the regular season.
Rookie Wire decided to put on our thinking caps and predict the future. We made 10 bold predictions for the upcoming season for the rookie class and offer up an opinion on what we might see. To make this exercise fun, we will come back at the end of the season and see how we did.
Here is how we fared last season, in which, we didn’t do particularly well.
Killian Hayes will start every game for the Pistons
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Hayes started every game for the Pistons during their preseason run and he should continue that into the regular season. Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has said that Hayes will have the opportunity to play through his mistakes as that is all part of the learning experience for him. The team opted to keep veteran Derrick Rose coming off the bench, a role he is perfectly fine with. The players on the Pistons know the development of Hayes is integral for the future and this will serve as a year of learning for the 19-year-old.
Aleksej Pokusevski will set the NBA rookie record for 3-pointers
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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell currently holds the rookie record for most 3-pointers in a season with 187. Mitchell shot 34% (187-of-550) from beyond the arc as a rookie and played 33.4 minutes per game that season. Pokusevski figures to have the chance to play heavy minutes this year with the Thunder, and based on how the preseason went, he may have a real shot at breaking Mitchell's record. Pokusevski finished second among all rookies with seven made 3-pointers during the preseason, giving him 2.3 makes per game. Given the shortened 72-game schedule this season, he may have a tougher chance at setting the record but he is likely one of the best rookie candidates to do so.
Obi Toppin will record at least 10 double-doubles
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Toppin registered eight double-doubles last season at Dayton and figures to have a chance to keep that going this year. He will likely average around 20-25 minutes per game with the Knicks this season, giving him ample time on the court to score and haul in rebounds. He posted averages of 7.3 points and six rebounds in the preseason and will only improve as his rookie season progresses.
Anthony Edwards will become a full-time starter by the end of the season
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The No. 1 overall pick started his preseason with the Timberwolves off the bench, averaging 11.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Edwards admitted during the preseason that he still needed a little bit more time to knock off all the rust but knew he would be ready by the start of the season. The organization knows his development will be paramount this season and, given his ability, he will eventually find himself in the starting lineup at some point.
Precious Achiuwa will lead the class in rebounding
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Achiuwa averaged 8.5 rebounds with the Heat during the preseason and the 20th overall pick will keep that momentum this season. He has often been compared to teammate Bam Adebayo given his skillset, and Adebayo even believes Achiuwa is more advanced at this stage of his career than he was. He is often a monster on the glass while he is on the court and this season will prove to be no different.
Tyrese Haliburton will finish in the top 25 among all players in steals
AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer
Haliburton possesses the 3-and-D potential many teams covet and that is likely a huge reason why he was voted as the biggest steal in the draft in the annual NBA GM Survey. The 12th overall pick has been praised for his maturity and overall IQ for the game and that should translate this season on both ends of the floor. Sacramento is certainly high on him and he should enjoy a strong rookie campaign, and, hopefully, help us nail this prediction.
Spurs' Devin Vassell will place on the All-Rookie First Team
(Photo by Reginald Thomas II/San Antonio Spurs)
Vassell appears to have the opportunity to log heavy minutes this season, which will help his chances of putting up numbers. He finished fourth among all rookies in scoring during the preseason while he led the class in steals. The 11th overall pick projects to play a large role with the Spurs and could emerge as one of the top rookies, as a result. The All-Rookie Teams appear to be wide open this season and Vassell should find himself ranked among them.
James Wiseman will lead the rookie class in scoring
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Wiseman missed the start of training camp and did not play during the preseason. Despite that, he still figures to see a large role with the Warriors this season and that will enable him to have the green light on offense. He has been highly touted for his scoring ability as he can work in the post, run the floor and space the floor and shoot 3-pointers. Wiseman has the ability and the role this season to flourish, and he very well may end up as the rookie scoring leader.
LaMelo Ball will record at least one triple-double and lead all rookies in assists
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
The court vision and rebounding ability by Ball figures to be on display throughout the season with the Charlotte Hornets and that will ultimately enable him to fill up the box score. Ball averaged 8.5 points, five rebounds and 3.8 assists in four preseason games with the Hornets and was aggressive in pushing the pace, often finding teammates immediately down the court for the assist. He tied with Cole Anthony for the most assists among all rookies during the preseason with 15. Those two factors have us confident that Ball will tally at least one triple-double this season while leading the rookie class in assists.
Cole Anthony will be named the 2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Anthony emerged as perhaps one of the top rookies throughout the preseason. He bounced back from what he deemed a terrible performance and finished as the leading rookie scorer after producing 55 points in four games. The 15th overall pick will have the opportunity to play plenty of minutes this season with the Magic and he figures to be a key rotational player behind Markelle Fultz off the bench. Anthony enters the season outside of the top 10 in odds to win the Rookie of the Year but, hey, we did say these would be bold predictions.