Rookies On The Rise

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Here in "Notable Numbers," we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today, I'll highlight rookies that have played well during the preseason as they get ready for their official NBA debuts.

Follow Tommy Beer on Twitter: @TommyBeer

* Ja Morant
The No. 2 overall pick made a strong impression in his first couple of laps around the NBA track. In four preseason contests, he averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists, which ranked third in the NBA, just ahead of Trae Young, LeBron James, De'Aaron Fox. Remarkably, he turned the ball over only 2.3 times a night, which is rare for a rookie. The one primary concern for Morant heading into the regular season is his offensive efficiency. He shot just 43.9% from the field, 14.3% from behind the arc, and 57.1% from the free-throw line.

* RJ Barrett
There was only one player in the league to average more than 31 minutes per game in the preseason, and that was Barrett, who logged a whopping 37.4 mpg. It has become clear that Barrett has already earned the trust of head coach David Fizdale, and will be given an opportunity to serve as a hub of the Knicks offense. In the preseason finale on Friday, Barrett was 9-of-12 from the field for 19 points and chipped in six rebounds, three assists, one block and one 3-pointer. Barrett finished the preseason as one of seven players to average at least 15 points, six boards and three dimes. The other six were James Harden, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam, Karl-Anthony Towns and Julius Randle.


* Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Alexander-Walker exceeded all expectations this preseason. He logged just 18 minutes a night but stuffed the stat sheet in a major way. Alexander-Walker's per-36 minute production was wildly impressive: 30.0 points. 5.4 made 3-pointers, 5.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.6 steals. However, he did struggle in his first pro game, shooting just 1-of-10 from the floor in the Pelicans loss to the Raptors on Tuesday. Expect him to bounce back later this week.

* Brandon Clarke
Clarke was a stud last season at Gonzaga, as he became the first Division 1 player in over 25 years to average at least 16 points and three blocks per game while shooting over 65% from the field. However, due primarily to his age (he's 23 years old) slipped down to No. 21 overall. The Grizz got a steal, and Clarke is ready to make an impact right away. Despite logging less than 20 minutes per game in the preseason, he averaged 9.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. He'll be a nightly double-double threat off the bench.

* PJ Washington
The Hornets have no shot at competing for the playoffs this season, so expect them to spend the year focusing on developing their young talent. Charlotte selected Washington with the 12th overall pick in last June's draft, and he is a vital part of their future. During the preseason, he logged over 25 minutes a night, second on the team behind only Miles Brides. Washington has the versatility to play multiple positions, which will allow coach James Borrego to slot him in him all over the frontcourt; especially in the second half of the season, when Charlotte will have little motivation to play veterans such as Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams.

* Matisse Thybulle
Thybulle, a defensive specialist, averaged a whopping 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game as a senior at the University of Washington last season. In the process, he passed Gary Payton to become the Pac-12's all-time steals leader. According to Basketball-Reference, he is the first player in NCAA Division 1 history with at least 100 steals and 70 blocks in the same season. Unsurprisingly, he's been a defensive force for Philly right out of the gates, averaging 4.9 steals and 2.6 blocks per-36 minutes during preseason play! If you are looking for steals and blocks off the waiver wire this season, keep Thybulle's name in mind.

* Tyler Herro
Many scouts considered Herro arguably the best perimeter shooter in the 2019 draft, and he looked the part this month. Herro averaged 14.2 points and 2.8 made triples per game during the preseason, shooting a scorching 51.9% from downtown. He also chipped in 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals. Furthermore, Herro led all Heat players in minutes (just ahead of Jimmy Butler), logging over 26 minutes night. It's also worth noting that Miami suspended Dion Waiters for the season opener due to conduct detrimental to the team, and Waiters may not be in Miami's rotation to begin the season. We'll see if Herro can take full advantage of this opportunity.

* Coby White
While he has excellent size for a lead guard at 6'5" and is incredibly quick. Yet, coming out of school, scouts were concerned about White's shooting touch. Over his final seven games at UNC, including the ACC conference tournament and NCAA tourney, White shot just 38 percent from the floor, 24.5 percent from downtown and 69.6 percent from the charity stripe. However, he looked solid for Chicago in October. White actually led all rookies in total points in the preseason, tallying 96 across five games. Encouragingly, he shot 45.5 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from behind the arc. The Bulls have plenty of depth at PG, but White played off the ball quite frequently this month, logging a healthy 25.8 minutes per contest. On the negative side, he didn't distribute the ball much, dishing out a total of just five dimes.

* Carsen Edwards
Folks in deeper leagues will want to keep an eye on Edwards. He flashed his attractive upside in the Celtics final preseason matchup last Tuesday, when Boston rested their top rotation players. Edwards drew the start at point guard and exploded 30 points in just under 21 minutes. He absolutely caught fire at the beginning of the second half, pouring in 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting and hit 8-of-11 3-pointers in the third quarter alone. If you spent your second-round pick on Kemba Walker, be aware that Edwards would have immediate value if Kemba got injured at some point.

* Jordan Poole
The Warriors will be missing one Splash Brother for quite a while. Earlier this week, coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that Klay Thompson will likely be sidelined for the entirety of the 2019-20 season. Newly acquired D'Angelo Russell will man most minutes at SG, but Poole will have an opportunity to carve out a consistent role in the Warriors rotation, as Golden State has limited depth in its backcourt. Poole put up points in the preseason, averaging 13.2 points and 2.6 treys in 22.6 minutes. Unfortunately, he doesn't bring much to the table besides scoring. Poole averaged just 1.4 boards, 1.0 dimes, 0.6 steals and 0.2 blocks. Certainly not encouraging that he committed more turnovers than his combined total of assists, steals and blocks.