NBA

Kia Rookie Ladder: Younger, Bagley placing strain on Doncic

Luka Doncic has grabbed the hearts of NBA followers, but when he thinks the second half goes to be a cakewalkt to a Kia Rookie of the 12 months tophy, he higher assume once more.

He’s acquired some firm on the prime.

After struggling to start out the season, Atlanta Hawks level guard Trae Younger is enjoying improbable basketball of late. Whereas early indications had some prognosticators questioning how he’d ever match within the NBA, his current play has him trying like a future star. For the reason that All-Star break, Younger has topped 30 factors in three of 4 video games, with back-to-back 36-point video games. Younger shot simply 19.eight % from Three-point land in November, however he is been continuously bettering from deep since then.

 

Trae Younger dazzled in a house win towards the Timberwolves.

In Sacramento, Marvin Bagley III has seen his enjoying time enhance, and followers are seeing a franchise cornerstone and perennial All-Star. Earlier than Wednesday’s sport — which he left after spraining his knee within the third quarter — Bagley was averaging 24 factors, 11.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks within the first three video games for the reason that All-Star break. He had three straight double-doubles, together with a 28-point, 14-rebound exhibiting towards the defending-champion Golden State Warriors.

Deandre Ayton, who had been the most important competitors for Doncic by way of the primary half, continues to be lingering, however his numbers have dropped off sufficient to require a severe uptick to make a run at Doncic.

Will anybody be capable of catch Doncic? It’d take a miracle, however Younger and Bagley (assuming his harm isn’t severe) are going to make him earn it.

 

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1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

 

Doncic helped energy the Mavs to a win Thursday towards Indiana.

Final week:  No. 1

Doncic missed the primary two video games after the All-Star break with a sore proper ankle, however returned with a pair of respectable video games. Doncic put up a triple-double in Dallas’ 121-112 loss to the LA Clippers with 28 factors, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He then adopted that up by main the Mavs to a 110-101 win over the Pacers with one other massive sport. He put up 26 factors, 10 rebounds and 7 assists and hit a clutch Three-pointer within the remaining minute to seal the win. The one unfavourable for Doncic has been the 16 turnovers within the final two video games – 9 in L.A. adopted by seven vs. the Pacers.

 

2. Trae Younger, Atlanta Hawks

 

Trae Younger continued to point out enchancment in February for Atlanta.

Final week:  No. 2

As talked about above, Younger is likely to be the one rookie with an opportunity to catch Doncic, who has possible already received over many citizens along with his constant play. However his numbers from February, you can begin to see Younger is gaining on Doncic to make a case. For the month, Doncic finishes with averages of 24.four ppg, 9.four rpg, 7.four apg whereas capturing 44.Three % total (and 36.2 % on Three-pointers). Younger’s numbers? Strive 23.Three ppg, four.Three rpg, 9.Three apg whereas capturing 41.zero % total (and 43.7 % Three-pointers). Not a lot of a separation there, and Younger — coming off back-to-back 36-point video games — is actually trying like he’s able to make a run at Doncic’s prime spot.

 

Three. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings

 

Marvin Bagley ran wild in a loss to the Warriors final week.

Final week:  No. four

Bagley is because of have an MRI on Thursday for what the staff referred to as a sprained left knee, which is horrible information contemplating simply how dominant Bagley has been these days. The No. 2 decide acquired a uncommon begin on Monday, going toe-to-toe with Karl-Anthony Cities with 25 factors, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks in 37 minutes. Bagley’s been massive for the Kings off the bench all season, but it surely’s clear his time has come and — if the harm doesn’t transform severe — the Kings’ playoff hopes hinge on his continued emergence down the stretch.

 

four. Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

 

Mitchell Robinson delivered a tremendous sequence towards the Magic this week.

Final week:  Not ranked

The Knicks’ rookie has became fairly the feeling, capturing the hearts of followers at Madison Sq. Backyard. The Knicks received back-to-back video games this week, and Robinson was a significant factor in each victories. Within the Knicks’ towards San Antonio on Sunday, Robinson put up 15 factors, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks to assist New York snap an 18-game dwelling shedding streak. Two nights later, the 7-foot-1 middle had 17 factors, 14 rebounds, six blocks and three steals in New York’s comeback win vs. Orlando. Robinson turned the third rookie within the final 25 years to tally a double-double with at the least 5 blocks in back-to-back video games. The opposite two? Corridor of Famer Yao Ming and future Corridor of Famer Tim Duncan. The 2 wins introduced consideration to the energetic rookie, however he’s been strong all month (10.9 ppg, eight.9 rpg, Three.Three bpg in 22.6 mpg off the bench).

 

5. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

 

Deandre Ayton got here by way of with a strong February for Phoenix.

Final week:  No. Three

Ayton has seen his numbers dip for the reason that All-Star break, however right here’s the factor: They’re nonetheless fairly good. In three video games, Ayton averaged 13.7 ppg, 10.Three rpg and 1.Three spg, however he was -14.Three in plus/minus because the Suns went 1-2. That lone win, after all, got here just some days after Ayton promised he was able to “take over” and the Suns snapped their 17-game shedding streak with a win towards the Miami Warmth. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see how the Suns deal with Ayton down the stretch, and it could be good to see the staff really run performs for his or her prize massive man and let him “take over” as he’s promised.

 

Simply missed the reduce: 

Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks
Trier has been massive within the Knicks’ three video games for the reason that All-Star break, averaging 15.7 ppg on 53.eight % capturing. His most notable efficiency got here within the Knicks’ win over the Magic, wherein he scored 18 factors, grabbed 5 rebounds and had three steals in 21 minutes. 

Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves
Within the 4 video games for the reason that All-Star break, the Wolves’ lock-down defender has averaged 2.Three steals, thanks largely to a four-steal sport in an enormous win towards the Kings. Okogie continues to be one in all this class’ greatest defenders

Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs’ different rookie guard is proving he belongs, and he had his greatest sport Wednesday in Dallas’ 110-101 win towards Indiana. Brunson began and scored a career-high 24 factors’ on 9-for-14 capturing, hitting Three of 6 Three-pointers, together with a clutch one within the remaining minute. “I’m there to assist maintain the power,” mentioned Brunson, who’s averaging 16.eight factors within the 4 video games for the reason that All-Star break.  “Clearly Luka means so much to this staff, however I attempt to play pickup protection and keep accessible for my teammates. I’m there to play laborious.”

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Jackson deserves a point out solely as a result of he’s been a fixture round right here. Sadly, we received’t be seeing him for awhile because the staff shut him down “indefinitely” with a bruise in his proper quadriceps. With Memphis out of the playoff hunt, we would not see the staff’s cornerstone massive man once more this season. “We’ve talked about it and we’ll be affected person,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff mentioned. “The unfavourable far outweighs the constructive of him being rushed again. So we’re not in a rush.”

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(All stats by way of Wednesday, Feb. 27)

Ship any qfuestions or feedback to my e-mail or discover me on Twitter @drewpackham.

The views on this web page don’t essentially mirror the views of the NBA, its golf equipment or Turner Broadcasting.


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