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Exceeding Expectations, Part I

March 25, 2019 AT 12:00 AM

No lottery? No problem for these rookie marvels

The annual NBA Draft is one of the most exciting events on the NBA calendar for a good reason – hope. With a solid draft, a team can turn its fortunes around completely, giving each franchise the chance to become a legitimate title contender. Although these game-changing rookies are usually snapped up within the draft lottery, you can always find some hidden gems in the later stages if you are looking carefully. A few previously-unheralded young players have already taken the basketball scene by storm in their first year, making the most of available minutes in a variety of ways.

Kevin Huerter (Atlanta Hawks): For those not in the know, there are two hotshot rookies in Atlanta with the ability to rain it from deep, handle the rock and set up their teammates. The 6-foot-7 sniper out of Maryland may have been overshadowed by his equally sensational teammate Trae Young at the start, but he has slowly crept onto the scene with his equally impressive outside stroke. The 19th pick even has athleticism to boot, having already notched a few dunks on unsuspecting foes this season.

Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves): The 6-foot-4 guard is no stranger to being overlooked, having not been ranked highly as a recruit due to the perception of him as a pure defensive stopper. His defense was solid enough to warrant a first-round selection, but he has jumped right into the Timberwolves’ rotation through his offensive contributions as well, making full use of his athleticism and strength in finishing at the basket and drawing fouls. Tough, hard-nosed defense remains his calling card however, as he has made a solid adjustment to the physicality of the League.

Landry Shamet (Philadelphia 76ers): Coming out of mid-major Wichita State, Shamet was hardly a household name, but the Sixers were not about to pass up on a collegiate prospect with efficient shooting numbers who could also create for his teammates. As a rookie surrounded by talented teammates, his team no longer relies on him to create shots, but he has shown that he can function as a knock-down shooter, moving well without the ball and draining buckets from deep.

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