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. Here are some rookies proving that talent exists beyond just the first round.
Jevon Carter (Memphis Grizzlies): Having made his name as a defensive steward in his collegiate days, the 6-foot-2 Carter has brought his trademark intensity to an ideal hometown. There is nothing Memphis loves more than a player who hustles, and the West Virginia product is proving doubters wrong by making life difficult for taller and more renowned opposing guards.
Mitchell Robinson (New York Knicks): It was little wonder that Robinson fell to the 36th pick despite his otherworldly hops and length, as he skipped collegiate basketball to train on his own. This unconventional route has brought him early success, as he has evolved into the Knicks’ leading shot-blocker and designated alley-oop finisher in record time. Although his skills may still be raw, the sky is the limit for this spectacular leaper.
Rodion Kurucs (Brooklyn Nets): The Latvian forward was not heavily used in the EuroLeague by Barcelona, logging most minutes for their reserve team instead. Despite this, he has taken little time in adjusting his efficient and cerebral game to the NBA. Leave him open and he will drain the three, guard him tight and he will unleash his trademark backdoor cut. At just 20 years of age, the 6-foot-9 Kurucs has shown supreme confidence and will only get better with each passing game.
Allonzo Trier (New York Knicks): Knicks fans could hardly believe their luck when they picked up Robinson in the second round, and the signing of undrafted free agent Trier only added to that joy. The one-time child prodigy has not lost any of his effortless scoring touch and one-on-one moves, and has left little doubt that he will be a deadly scorer for many years to come.