NBA

NBA 2019-20: Five under-the-radar rookies you should keep an eye on

By Sports Desk October 01, 2019

NBA training camp began on Tuesday and the regular season is just around the corner.

Once preseason play begins Friday, plenty of rookies will be set loose so they can show what they can do before rotations are narrowed.

Each year first-year players exceed the expectations set for them, so we have put together a shortlist of who you should look out for.

Here are five under-the-radar rookies you should keep an eye on:

 

Chris Clemons, Guard, Rockets 

There is no guarantee Chris Clemons will make the Houston Rockets' roster, but we have a good feeling he will be in the mix this season.

The Campbell product led the nation in scoring in 2018-19, averaging 30.1 points and ended his college career as the third-highest scorer ever in NCAA Division I men's basketball history.

Although Clemons is 5-9, he has above-average athleticism and a willingness to fire the long ball while making them at an efficient clip, which makes him perfect for Houston.

He made five three-pointers and scored 21 points in 18 minutes in the fourth quarter of the Rockets' exhibition win against the Shanghai Sharks on Monday.

Houston's analytics-driven offense will always have room for snipers who make the most of open space.

Brandon Clarke, Forward, Grizzlies 

Brandon Clarke had plenty of critics leading up to the 2019 NBA Draft, but the undersized forward answered a lot of questions during summer league play.

Clarke helped lead the Memphis Grizzlies to an NBA Summer League title in July and was awarded MVP honours twice in Las Vegas.

At 6-8, he is not the most physically imposing power forward. However, his athleticism, natural defensive instincts, high motor, efficient finishing around the basket, and dedication to improving as a perimeter shooter will make it hard to keep him off the floor.

Most eyes will be on 2019's second overall pick Ja Morant and second-year forward Jaren Jackson, and that will give Clarke an opportunity to continue exceeding expectations.

Carsen Edwards, Guard, Celtics

If there is one thing that stands out about Carsen Edwards, it is his ability to fill it up on difficult shot attempts.

Although he will be backing up an All-NBA talent in Kemba Walker, Edwards should have ample opportunity to run the offense with the Boston Celtics. Especially since Marcus Smart is not much of an on-ball guard.

Edwards' quick release and seemingly unlimited shooting range helped him average 24.3 points at Purdue last year and 34.8 points in the NCAA tournament.

He is one guy who will not hesitate to shoot his shot and establish a role for himself early.

Bruno Fernando, Center, Hawks

Bruno Fernando slipped through the cracks after originally being considered a lottery prospect in 2019, but he still has plenty of promise.

He is a capable two-way player who averaged 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season at Maryland and will compete to back up Alex Len down low.

Fernando's large frame, athleticism and potential to affect games as a post passer could make him valuable on a team with plenty of young talent that will attract more attention.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Guard, Pelicans

Nickeil Alexander-Walker will certainly benefit from the New Orleans Pelicans' versatility at the guard spots.

Much like Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday, who will likely form one of the NBA's best defensive backcourts in 2019-20, Alexander-Walker can play on or off the ball.

Although he is 6-5 his 6-9 wingspan only adds to the great length of the Pelicans' ball handlers. 

The Canadian's aggressive driving and craftiness around the rim are complemented by the developing shot creation skills he showcased in the summer league.

New Orleans' combination of young, athletic finishers and a sharpshooter in JJ Redick have set the table for Alexander-Walker to thrive in a reserve role.

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