NBA

Kia Rookie Ladder: Younger refuses to let up in tight race

After I gave Trae Younger the highest rung on the Kia Rookie Ladder again on March 7, I totally anticipated Luka Doncic to retake the highest rung. However Younger hasn’t proven any indicators of slowing, making it troublesome to present again the highest spot to Doncic. 

And that’s to not say Doncic hasn’t been doing his half — he’s been nice. Over the previous two weeks, he’s had three triple-doubles, averaging 23.5 factors, 10.Three rebounds and eight.Three assists per sport. The draw back is his Three-point taking pictures has taken a critical hit, as he’s shot simply 18.Three p.c from there (9-for-49) in his final six video games. The argument for Doncic has at all times been he’s been constant all season, whereas Younger began sluggish, however has gained steam after discovering his shot. If that’s the argument, then equal weight ought to probably be given to Doncic’s taking pictures struggles down the stretch.

 

Trae Younger and Luka Doncic are every making a critical Kia ROY bid.

Younger, in the meantime, continues to place up monster numbers, averaging 25.eight ppg and 9.2 apg over his final six video games, serving to the Hawks go Three-Three with wins towards the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans. He has 4 straight double-doubles whereas taking pictures at a 49.1 p.c clip (37 p.c on Three-pointers) over the past two weeks. His play was adequate to earn him Japanese Convention Participant of the Week honors, the primary rookie to seize the award this season.

With simply two weeks to go, the ultimate stretch may go far in figuring out the Kia Rookie of the 12 months. If Younger retains up his spectacular 30-10 tempo with strong taking pictures numbers whereas Doncic fades, will or not it’s sufficient to beat his poor November, which noticed him common 14 ppg on 35 p.c taking pictures (19.eight p.c on Three-pointers)? Or will Doncic end robust and full one of the vital spectacular rookie campaigns we’ve seen in years?

It may find yourself being a good vote (I’ll have extra on that subsequent week as I look again at different shut ROY races), so that you’d be sensible to get NBA League Go in the event you haven’t already to catch these rookies’ ultimate eight video games.

* * *

1. Trae Younger, Atlanta Hawks

 

Trae Younger saved the day for the Hawks final Saturday vs. the Sixers.

Final week:  No. 1

How’s this for uncommon air? Younger had his sixth 30-point, 10-assist sport in New Orleans on Tuesday (33 factors, 12 assits), which moved him previous Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry for second most by a rookie in NBA historical past. Solely Oscar Robertson had extra (25). “I am feeling good, and my teammates truthfully make me look good, too,” stated Younger, who was chosen because the East’s Participant of the Week after his latest run of sterling performances. “I am simply having enjoyable. That is the principle factor. The ball is shifting, photographs are falling and it is enjoyable.”

2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

 

Luka Doncic had a large triple-double in a loss to the Kings on Tuesday.

Final week:  No. 2

For all of the discuss Rookie of the 12 months, Luka doesn’t appear too fearful. “For me, the Rookie of the 12 months in fact is vital, however there’s much more issues happening,” Doncic advised the Dallas Morning Information. “It’s a protracted season right here within the NBA. Loads of speaking about that, and I’m simply not concerned with it.” This week, Doncic notched his seventh triple-double of the season, tying him with Magic Johnson for third-most by a rookie (and most for a participant underneath 21). His most spectacular got here towards the defending champion Warriors, when he had 23 factors, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a stunning 35-point rout in Oakland. Corridor of Fame level guard Steve Nash couldn’t assist however gush about Doncic this week. “He’s phenomenal. Simply an unbelievable basketball participant. …He’s an extremely distinctive participant, traditionally, already, at a younger age,” he stated. “So far as his uniqueness and accuracy and skill to make performs off the dribble together with his measurement? We simply don’t see that. Particularly at his age.”

Three. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings

 

Marvin Bagley has picked up the place he left off since getting back from harm.

Final week:  Not ranked

Bagley returned to the Kings’ lineup March 14 after lacking two weeks with a left knee sprain and didn’t miss a beat. In eight video games, Bagley averaged 19.four ppg and seven.eight rpg in 25.eight mpg. The Kings’ playoff hopes are fading, however coach Dave Joerger didn’t hesitate when requested about Bagley’s standing amongst this class. “I’ve received the Rookie of the 12 months on my roster. … His degree of expertise pushes coaches to verify we’re on level and difficult him day-after-day. He’s simply been a pleasure to educate.” 

four. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Collin Sexton has proven higher shot choice because the season has worn on.

Final week:  Not ranked

Sexton has been placing up monster scoring numbers because the All-Star break and particularly over the past two weeks. The purpose guard scored at the very least 20 in eight straight video games (the streak ended Sunday in Milwaukee), and he’s seen the bump because of shot choice. Sexton has centered much less on mid-range jumpers and as an alternative regarded extra for the Three-ball, taking 5.6 per sport because the All-Star break (in comparison with 2.7 earlier than). General, he’s taking pictures at a 48.1 p.c clip because the break, pulling down 44.eight p.c of his Three-pointers. “He’s actually beginning to flip a nook, he’s actually beginning to determine it out,” coach Larry Drew stated. “I would like him to proceed to study, to discover ways to play the place, to discover ways to be a pacesetter, to discover ways to get his teammates concerned. Simply proceed to study the sport. He’s the one participant on our group that hasn’t missed a sport. He’s a warrior.”

 

5. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

 

In a loss to the Wizards final evening, Deandre Ayton delivered a strong sport.

Final week:  No. Three

During the last two weeks, Ayton tallied double-doubles in 4 of his seven video games, averaging 16 ppg and 9.6 rpg. He may have had one other, however he garnered his first ejection of his younger profession after choosing up two technicals in New Orleans (the second whereas arguing from the bench) on March 16. Coach Igor Kokoskov known as Ayton’s response “inappropriate” whereas Ayton stated he didn’t even understand he’d been ejected as he complained to teammates on the bench. “I assume I used to be just a little too loud in complaining to them.” 


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