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.

Related items

  • Pelicans set franchise record after 12th straight NBA loss Pelicans set franchise record after 12th straight NBA loss

    The struggling New Orleans Pelicans set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive defeat in the NBA.

    Sunday's 130-119 loss against the Orlando Magic marked an unwanted record for the Pelicans.

    New Orleans had twice previously lost 11 games in a row – in 2004 as the Hornets and again in 2012 as the Pelicans.

    But the Pelicans (6-21) topped that mark after being outscored 41-27 in the third quarter at home to the Magic (12-14).

    It has been a season of change for the Pelicans, who lost All-Star Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster trade.

    The Pelicans received Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks in return, while they signed free agent JJ Redick.

    New Orleans also secured sensational talent Zion Williamson with the number one pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

    But Pelicans fans are still waiting for Williamson to make his regular-season debut as the 19-year-old recovers from a knee injury.

  • Giannis: Depth & culture key to Bucks surviving Bledsoe absence Giannis: Depth & culture key to Bucks surviving Bledsoe absence

    The Milwaukee Bucks need to make the most of their depth and harness the team's winning culture to keep winning without Eric Bledsoe, according to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

    Point guard Bledsoe will be out for two weeks with the right fibula avulsion fracture suffered in the Bucks' win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

    Milwaukee claimed a 125-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers without Bledsoe on Saturday.

    The Bucks have won 18 successive games, two shy of their franchise-record run of 20 set in 1971, taking them to 24-3.

    Reigning league MVP Antetokounmpo believes they have the resources to thrive in Bledsoe's absence, also suggesting a lay-off of his own would not impact the team's playoff hopes.

    "It's tough, one of the best players in the team, he's been playing amazing the whole season, obviously a big piece of the team," Antetokounmpo told reporters.

    "We all wish Bled a fast recovery, come back healthy. This team will be exactly how it is right now when he gets back.

    "We did it when Khris [Middleton] missed a lot of games - we were able to win games without him. We've got to do it without Bled, and if I ever miss games, they've got to do it without me.

    "We've built a winning culture around the team and everybody knows what we've got to do when we step on the floor.

    "This team is deep. We've got a deep team, it's insane. It doesn't matter if Bled isn't playing, I'm not playing - I think this team could be a playoff team, it could be a 50-win team.

    "Khris, Bled, me, all the other guys, we're big pieces, big parts of this team. At the end of the day, if we miss games, other guys got to get the job done. So far we've been doing that."

  • Doncic expected to miss Bucks clash with ankle sprain Doncic expected to miss Bucks clash with ankle sprain

    Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle does not expect Luka Doncic to play against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday after suffering a right ankle sprain in their overtime defeat to the Miami Heat on Saturday.

    Doncic played fewer than two minutes of the Mavericks' 122-118 loss to the Heat, which dropped them to a record of 17-8.

    The Slovenian is enjoying a breakout second season that has him in the Most Valuable Player discussion. Doncic is averaging 29.3 points per game to go with 8.9 assists and 9.6 rebounds. 

    However, he is now unlikely to square off against reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo when the Mavericks visit the Bucks, who lead the Eastern Conference after compiling 18 straight wins.

    Speaking in a media conference, Carlisle said: "Luka has a right ankle sprain, we hope it's not serious, X-rays were negative."

    The Mavericks trailed 73-50 at half-time but produced a stirring second-half fightback to force the extra five-minute period.

    Asked what he said to his team in the interval with Doncic sidelined, Carlisle replied: "Don't have to say much, guys knew we were getting outplayed and outworked and we turned it around in the second half.

    "We needed to make one more play or have one more ball bounce our way or get one more call.

    "It's disappointing [Doncic's injury] but, next man up. Obviously we lose a guy that's a great player, we don't know for how long, and I don't expect him to play against Milwaukee, that's just an opinion that's not a media release or anything like that, but we've got to circle the wagons with the guys that we have and play like we did in the second half, pretty simple. "

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.