Arguments for Each Gatorade Player of The Year Finalist

There are few higher personal honors in high school basketball than winning National Player of The Year (NPOY) with any platform. The three finalists for 2020 NPOY, Emoni Bates the prodigy, Cade Cunningham Mr. pro-ready, and Evan Mobley the definition of potential, have been the top player in their class and could easily be marked as the three most valuable prospects in all of Hoops. See all three young men deserve the award, in many years they’d have it in the bag yet, in the year 2020 these potential number 1 picks have built cases to add the final piece to their high school chapter or potentially the first of many.

Cade Cunningham

To say Cade would have been the sleeper for this award just a year ago is laughable until you look at his competition. Winning Cunningham, gaining the number 1 spot after a dominant year on the EYBL circuit, earning league MVP. Garnering national attention through production and some of the smoothest highlights I’ve seen since Kyle “Slow-Mo” Anderson isn’t new to Cunningham but what it’s turned into as of late is. 

The circuit success may have been just icing on the cake as Cade led the US FIBA U19 to gold. He’d turn into a media darling receiving Luka Doncic comparisons. No one sang his praises more than Dallas. His way of paying them back? A sell-out crowd at the American Airlines Center.

Cunningham continued his dominant ways with Kevin Boyle and Montverde Academy. Their undefeated (25-0) season of vengeance, ended early by COVID-19, taking the likes of Texas powerhouse Duncanville, Hunter Dickinson’s DeMatha, a DJ Steward Whitney Young squad, Sharife Cooper’s McEachern twice, two IMG Academy defeats, Johnathan Kuminga and The Patrick School. Do you get the trend?

Cunningham played against the best while being the best player while playing on one of the best high school teams we’ve seen in some time. The path to the national title though paved with talent seemed well within grasp.

Evan Mobley

Mobley’s been this class chosen one since the summer going into his junior year. Everything clicked, Mobley’s immense physical frame and mobility sold scouts on a much higher ceiling for the 7 footer. He was practically the ready mix prospect just add strength and behold top 5 pick, a possible franchise changer.

Now as a senior his goal was obvious; surpass what he and his brother did a year ago. Never an easy task with California’s gauntlet of elite teams, none more famous than Sierra Canyon and their 5-star assault. Mobley accomplished the latter in December before falling to them in January.

Though his team would come up short in the opening CIF Open Division round what they accomplished was admirable. He averaged near 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks a game in one of the toughest schedules in the nation while being a defensive game-changer. Production that would earn the highest honors in other years.

Mobley’s case is the hardest to fight for. By the numbers and narrative alone he’s outmatched. Being in the strongest natural conference helps but without the two things above he has the hardest hill to climb and that he tried.

But what he has on everyone is a resume reserved for high school’s best recruits. A 2-time gold medalist in the FIBA games, U17 and U19. He’s a winner and a defensive presence at the highest level. Being named Morgan Wootten National Player of The Year April 1st highlights character and game.

Emoni Bates

The case for Bates is obvious – 

“I haven’t seen a talent like this at that age.” – Evan Daniels

Magic, Michael, LeBron … Emoni Bates? Meet the 15-Year-Old Next in Line – Michael Rosenberg, Sports Illustrated

63 in a game on February 18th, 2020

Bates is the golden ticket of Basketball potential, but today it’s all about production. No one listed above boasts a better average stat line – 32 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals – to boot there’s an argument that he’s the most impactful player for his team. Don’t get me wrong Mobley and Cunningham are their team’s powerhouse but in their wake are heavily coveted recruits behind them. Behind Bates are kids still finding their lane.

No one dominates quite like this sophomore. Arguably it’s against weaker competition than his competition, but how he goes about his business is astonishing. 

For Bates, it’s just not about winning the award but the symbol that comes with it. Giving this sophomore National player of The Year opens the floodgates of the Bates era. Winning puts the national stamp on a 15 year who’s prepared for this moment before his high school career started.

He’d be the first sophomore ever to win the award, putting him on a path to be the first 3 time winner. This is a legacy thing for the young man.

It’s easy to assume if the only two people stopping you from taking home one of the biggest awards in high school basketball this year when they’re gone, the next is a question of who will emerge to stop him.

The Traveling Hoopers in Review: Philly Vs. Toronto

The Toronto Raptors won a big game over a potential Eastern conference championship opponent last night. The 76ers got off to a hot start before Kawhi Leonard, and company started a run of their own. 

After the Sixers plague of turnovers in the second quarter, the Raptors gained a lead. Toronto closed the night out with 15 more points from turnovers than Philly.Jimmy Butler’s 38 points couldn’t close the gap. Not even JJ Redick’s 25 points were enough to turn things around with Joel Embiid (10) and Ben Simmons (8) having a low scoring night.

The Raptors shot a below average 43% from the field as a team with Kawhi leading the way with an efficient 36 points. Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam anchored Toronto’s tight defense. The duo did everything including combining for 24 points and 16 rebounds.

The game ended 113 – 102 in favor of Toronto. Philly played a tight game but their turnover struggle was too much to handle. The Raptors continue to increase their lead on the eastern conference with every win they earn.

Day 2 of Thanksgiving Hoopfest: Kansas Vs. Texas

Let me tell you about the battle of Texas and Kansas. The Guyer Wildcats of Denton, Texas took on Sunrise Christian from Wichita, Kansas. The Wildcats are led by their crafty point guard DeVion Harmon and smooth scoring wing Jalen Wilson. Sunrise came to Dallas with 6 of the 7 biggest names in Kansas high school basketball. Of the 13 seniors that saw the court last Saturday 7 of them have committed to high major Division 1 programa.

Once the ball tipped in Duncanville, the battle of the matchups commenced. The point guards showed why colleges have drooled over them during their high school careers. Harmon took on the two-headed monster of Grant Sherfield and Bryce Cook. Cook checking into the game made for the most exciting moment of the night. He hounded Harmon for 94 feet clapping as he countered every one of Harmon’s crossover attempts.

Calling the DFW home fueled each of the lead guards to show out for their friends and family. Under the bright lights and flashing cameras, Harmon’s playmaking clashed with Cook’s fearless defense and Sherfield’s ability to pack on points in a flash. Harmon finished with 21, Sherfield with 11, and Cook with 3 each showing why they will play ball at the next level.

The game’s excitement didn’t stop with guard play. The two opposing big men are textbook examples of how the modern center plays. Juniors Jacobe Coles and N’Faly Donte battled for everything.

Coles’ finesse in the post led to several pirouette-like turnaround jump shots that found the bottom of the net for the Wildcats. He stretched the floor connecting for two big time bombs from downtown. On the defensive end, he used his size and IQ to compete in a rebounding duel with his 7-foot matchup.

Sunrise’s N’Faly Donte started the game aggressively demanding the ball, ready to make a statement for coach Calipari. As the game progressed he showed off his athleticism in the half court catching oops and slamming putbacks. As Donte becomes more comfortable with the game, he’ll truly be a standout for whichever team is lucky enough to garner his services.

Guards and bigs moved the crowd but wings moved the game’s needle. Sunrise Christian’s Jadyn Turner led his team in scoring with 12 points. Jalen Wilson joined in the fun with an efficient 16 points thanks to his smooth midrange game.

After the points were scored and defensive stops were made Sunrise Christian took the victory 71 to 55. Ending the battle between Kansas and Texas in a double digit win for the Kansas boys.

Just How Good Are the Minnesota Timberwolves?

Phillip Dixon     11/29/2018     Twitter: @PG_Anecdotes

Since the Jimmy Butler trade, the Timberwolves have been counted out of the playoff hunt. I would like to propose that they have it all wrong. The Timberwolves will make the playoffs in the west this year between the sixth and eight seeds.

When Jimmy Butler showed up  in Minnesota, I made the argument that Jimmy Butler would stunt the growth of Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns. People would argue with me as if I was crazy. Now if we look at the Timberwolves, I was at least half right.

Jimmy Butler came in with an “I’ve grind to get where I am, and everybody needs to work as hard as I do” mentality. A mentality he pushed on other teammates. A mentality that seems like it would have been more effective in the ’90s and not 2018. The kids who are growing up in this world need a LeBron type leader more than a Kobe and Michael type leader. Jimmy may not have liked it, but it’s just the way it is.

Wiggins and Towns are a product of the soft, coddled, AAU, “kiss the butt of the best player on the team” like many others of today’s generation. They needed a different environment and leader you won’t find in Jimmy Butler. After the trade, it’s no coincidence that Karl Anthony Towns numbers have skyrocketed. Double-doubles every game with ease and doing what he needs to get his team the win.

He’s getting the touches that Jimmy had previously and is running in stride with them. He is the best player on the team and has shown it every game since the departure of Jimmy Butler.

Wiggins, on the other hand, has not taken advantage. Wiggins recently had a 0/12 night with 1 point while Towns put up 35. Wiggins needs to step it up and at least average twelve. He is getting paid to score a lot more than twelve points. Much like we saw at Kansas, he’s not mentally prepared to be a dog in even the most comfortable situations.

As a franchise, the Timberwolves can only hope for the minimum from him and when they get more, count their blessings. The fantastic thing for the Timberwolves this year is that they don’t need Wiggins to be the second-best player. The person taking on that role is a player they have coming off the bench. The former MVP of the NBA, Derrick “From the Streets that We” Rose.

Derrick is back to playing at a high level. He isn’t playing the explosive, get to the rim and dunk over everyone kind of basketball that brought him fame. He is playing a smart, precise, “pick your shots smartly” kind of basketball. Along with this intelligent style of basketball comes with a three-point shot. Derrick is on pace to pass his career high in threes taken in a season, in addition, he is shooting a staggering 47% from three for the season.

It doesn’t look like he is jumping so high in the air he shoots on the way down anymore. The jump shot is textbook, every single time, and it is beautiful. If he continues to put up the numbers, he is pushing he‘ll have a chance to not only win 6th man of the year but also a most improved player. Remember last year, he was in an empty gym in Ohio shooting by himself. We’ve all seen the footage and its crazy what a year of work can look like.

The most important factor in the Timberwolves making the playoffs will be their defense. Their coach, Tom Thibodeau is known for the defensive strategies he’s used since his Boston Celtics days. The last couple years we have not seen Thibodeau level defenses. Well, if you have watched them the last couple weeks, it seems as if something has clicked and the team defense the Timberwolves are playing is beautiful and it can’t be worded any different. 

The person spearheading this defense is someone that might surprise everyone. His name is Robert Covington, yes, the same player that was traded to Minnesota from Philadelphia for Jimmy Butler. His individual defense is so good I believe he should be up for the defensive player of the year so far. If you have not seen it yet, check out the Minnesota Timberwolves the next time they are on national tv and you won’t be disappointed.

With this being said, I strongly believe this year is another playoff year for the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you don’t realize it, it might be just because they aren’t on national tv as much so many of you don’t see them as much or you might not know basketball. The Minnesota Timberwolves are much better off without Jimmy Butler and if you are a Timberwolves fan, for can look forward to having a bright future as a franchise.

Day 2 of Thanksgiving Hoopfest

Allen Pettigrew Jr.     11/29/2018     Twitter: @AP_The_Great

Sandra Meadows Arena transformed into a Roman Coliseum for Day 2 of the Thanksgiving Hoopfest. Someone armed the South Garland Colonels to the teeth to take on the deadly Vashon Wolverines. The duo of Tyrese Maxey and Chris Harris Jr. shook the ground with every move they made for the Colonels. While the Wolverines became an unstoppable force with the help of Cam’Ron Fletcher and Mario McKinney.

In normal Maxey fashion, he played the game on full tilt with incredible enthusiasm. Maxey made a living getting to the rim and converting at the free throw line. He flashed athleticism throughout the night finishing around the rim with dunks and crafty layups. He scored in bunches for the  top coaches in the country, including Maxey’s future coach John Calipari.

Maxey controlled the offense by not only putting up numbers for himself but using the attention he draws from the defense to open lanes for his teammates. I’d be underselling him if I didn’t mention his handle. In one sequence alone, he brought the crowd to their feet after blowing by a defender and putting another in a blender before making a pinpoint pass that his teammates could not convert thanks to Cam’Ron Fletcher.

At the other guard spot for the Colonels, Chris Harris Jr. was aggressive all night. After weakening the Wolverines zone with their three-point shooting, Harris Jr. attacked the basket at will. He became a complete bulldog playing both sides of the ball with one goal in mind: winning. He took advantage of every mishap the defense gave him even creating a few opportunities of his own during the game. 

For the opposing Wolverine’s Fletcher used his devastating length on the defensive end leading to deflections and the Colonels tentative shot selection. He anchored the Wolverines’ den with a true defensive mindset. He was alert and moved his feet all-night waiting for an opportunity to change one of South Garland’s shots.

On offense, Fletcher’s long arms lead to vicious dunk and timely putbacks. Fletcher’s energy was infectious! He went coast to coast several times showing his speed and athleticism. He brought this range to Dallas with a pair of threes coming off the dribble and the catch.

Mario McKinney did his own damage for the Wolverines. McKinney was in full floor general mode. His decision making was on full display finding Fletcher for several alley-oops and keeping his teammates involved. He came up clutch near the end of the game hitting a three with just over a minute to go.

While these two teams were led by their big-time players, it was the supporting cast that pushed them forward. Guys like Vashon’s Donyae McCaskill and Nicholas Kern did their thing to support their stars. McCaskill made buckets whenever the game was most tense. His ability to finish at the rim made for a nice highlight reel. Kern took the role of a glue guy, doing all the little things needed to make a Vashon win possible.

The Colonels had a few glimpses of their future come from freshman Cruz Davis. As the smallest person on the court, he made it his job to not be a weak link on defense. He drained threes and really showed off his shooting stroke and confidence during the game.

The game ended in a Vashon Wolverine victory. While the South Garland Colonels fought hard, the Wolverines took advantage when their shots stopped falling. Missouri 1 DFW 0 until next time.

The Traveling Hooper Visits the Cowtown Tip Off

Davis is the teams go-to scorer who finds his shot within the offense but has the handle to create for himself and teammates when the offense breaks down. He muscles in for rebounds and pushes the pace on the break. As a 6’3 shooting guard, he’s fearless around the rim. 

The 5’9 floor general, Luis Rodriguez is a coach’s dream and nightmare rolled into one. Rodriguez has the heart to match up against bigger defenders. He shoots the lights out from three with a hand in his face and while spotting up. He uses his speed to make plays in the open court and has the control to lead during half court sets.

Okpoh serves as their 6’7 do it all combo forward who really gets after his match up while working as a rim protector. Gifted with long arms and effortless bounce he continues to be a lob threat when off the ball. He is a streaky shooter from three but he’s still a threat when left open. When defenders close out, he can use a pump fake out of the triple threat to get into the paint in just two dribbles. 

At 6’2, Devin Bell has the potential to go unconscious from three at a moment’s notice. His form is picture perfect, and he knocks down his shots whether he’s wide open or pressured by a good closeout. His ball handling limits him so he’s best shooting off the catch. He’s an excellent defender, so he’s perfect as a 3 and D defender at either wing position. 

The 5 and 4-star recruits in attendance will dominate headlines and they should, each of them had a strong introduction to their senior season. Yet the true stars were the guys who went toe to toe with them for 32 minutes. Guys like Desoto’s junior guard Dallas Craven held their own against Division one talent on the defensive in. The young guard limited Oklahoma State University commit Avery Anderson in the 15 minutes he was on the floor. At 5’10 Craven was a hound when guarding Anderson in the half court set allowing him only defended pull up jumpers when he could get a shot off. His lateral quickness and effort on the defensive end didn’t translate well to the offensive end where his clash ended in 4 points. Dallas still has another year to develop as a scorer but his defense and playmaking make him hard to keep off the court.

The night ended with Kentucky commit, Tyrese Maxey and Texas Tech commit, Jahmius Ramsey playing in front of a standing room only crowd. They glued people to their seats and posts as the highest touted shooting guards in the state went to war. Battles like these are a high school hoop heads fever dream, and it wasn’t only for the closing game. The number one ranked team in Texas led by Oklahoma University commit, De’Vion Harmon and Michigan commit, Jalen Wilson saw time on the floor during their own game. 

This DFW area basketball kickoff is a foreshadowing for what we’ll see this season. With the talent in this area, it should be a ride to remember. Welcome to the race to San Antonio.

The Search for The Next Great Kobe Disciple

Allen Pettigrew Jr.     11/8/2018     Twitter: @AP_The_Great

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, this season of “The Next Great” which will focus on none other than the Hall of Fame Laker, Kobe “Bean” Bryant. Since Kobe’s retirement he’s mentored several NBA superstars including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Jayson Tatum, all in hopes that they would unlock their mamba mentality. On this show, we will scour the basketball world to find whose game would elevate to new levels after an offseason with the Black Mamba. There are no requirements for this season’s show so you will see professional and college players on this list.

Donovan Mitchell
Why Donovan: Mentality

Image result for donovan mitchellUSA Today:  Russ Isabella

Mitchell is quite possibly the most fierce competitor of the listed bunch. We all know his NBA story; he hit the ground running leading his team to a second-round run and becoming Twitter’s choice for Rookie Of The Year. The fire he showed all season to get his team to that position is why he’s the perfect candidate to work with Kobe.

At 6-3 with a 6-10 wingspan, he has the size and strength to take most guards in the post. His length combined with his vertical leap will allow him to get the separation needed to pull off Kobe’s patented Jordan like moves. A few weeks of drilling footwork and breaking down the angles of the game should give Mitchell more than just the will to be better than the man in front of him.

With the Kobe work in his bag, it’ll be hard to stop a young player who’s more than proficient at every level of the game. Becoming a Kobe disciple will only bolster his offensive creativity, solidifying his hold as the West’s premiere young guard. Just imagine Mitchell catching the ball in the post leaning back to feel the defender, taking two quick dribbles, faking left then turning over his right shoulder for a fadeaway as we all yell, “KOBE”!

Zach Lavine
Why Zach: Athleticism

Image result for zach lavine jump shotNBA

Lavine is the Chicago Bull’s high-flying star and primary scorer. He’s putting up all-star numbers to start the season and is showing he’s just as explosive as he’s always been. He’s also averaging at least two “mama there goes that man” highlights a night powered by incredible dunks.

Zach’s game relies heavily on his speed, quickness, and of course slam dunk contest winning bounce. Under the tutelage of Kobe, he can turn all those tools into one of the deadliest tool sheds in the league. Zach already has the ability to find holes in the defense by using his lightning quick first step. Being able to see how the defense will unfold without using his speed will only help him as he gets further into his career.

Those same tools can be just as deadly when Zach decides to go into the post. He’ll have the quickness to use Kobe’s footwork in a way that will throw defenders’ equilibriums in a blender. If defenders can somehow stick with him after the fancy footwork he’ll definitely lose them once he turns over his should for Kobe’s signature turnaround jumper. Just imagine Lavine catching the ball in the post leaning back to feel the defender, taking two quick dribbles, faking left then turning over his right shoulder for a fadeaway as we all yell, “KOBE”!

Andrew Wiggins
Why Wiggins: To complete his destiny

Image result for andrew wiggins shotAssociated Press: Stacy Bengs

This contestant was the highest touted prospect coming out of high school that this list has to offer. Maple Jordan, Wiggins nickname out of high school, has been entertaining crowds with his athleticism since the height of the basketball mixtape era. He was compared to some of the games greatest including Kobe, but has yet to reach for that ceiling. Wiggins has been coasting on his athleticism and who can blame he’s reached borderline all-star status off raw athleticism alone. It’s tempting to rely on just that when you’re still able to compete against the best but just think of what could happen if he spent an offseason with Kobe.

The real reason Wiggins is a contestant for this chance of a lifetime is the Jimmy Butler debacle. What made Kobe “Kobe” wasn’t the jump shot, it’s not even the rings, it’s his mentality. Of all the players on this list, Wiggins could use the mamba mentality the most. He’s been judged as aloof and not engaged his entire career in spite of that think about Kobe being able to get him to finally flip the switch. An engaged Wiggins could unlock the defensive potential we saw in him on draft night. He has more physical tools Kobe Bryant ever had so there is no telling what he could become. 

Wiggins was built to take on Kobe’s skill set. The ball fakes, the post-game, shooting off the dribble are all things that would enhance his game. Learning to create space without relying on his athleticism would make Wiggins a nightmare. He’d see plays steps before they happen and it would be nothing a defender could do besides swat at the dust cloud he’d leave behind. Just imagine Wiggins catching the ball in the post leaning back to feel the defender, taking two quick dribbles, faking left then turning over his right shoulder for a fadeaway as we all yell, “KOBE”!

RJ Barret:
Why Barrett: Build

USA Today: Dan Hamilton

Barrett is the youngest competitor in our search for the Kobe Disciple but is one of the most accomplished. Training this young man should be like looking in a mirror for Kobe. We’re looking at a 6-7 competitor whose drive for winning helped him push a less talented Canadian squad over what seemed to be a powerhouse USA FIBA U19 team with two 2019 projected lottery picks and three guys selected in the 2018 draft.

Seemingly more polished than an 18-year-old Kobe, Barrett will show us what made him the consensus high school player of the year at Duke. After the debut performance he had at Duke and well, it becomes even more enticing for Kobe to get in his ear. Establishing yourself as a proven commodity is useful when working with Kobe. His youngest trainee without the last name Bryant is Jayson Tatum, who blossomed into a go-to scorer in last year’s playoffs. 

Barrett already has a scorer’s mentality partnered with a win at all costs mindset but picking Kobe’s mind would make him one of the most dangerous prospects we’ve seen in years. A literal student of the game working with a master of his craft could turn one lucky franchise’s fortune for the next seven years. We could truly see the second coming of Kobe with a Barrett-Bryant mentorship. Just imagine Barrett catching the ball in the post leaning back to feel the defender, taking two quick dribbles, faking left then turning over his right shoulder for a fadeaway as we all yell, “KOBE”!

Rookie Of The Year Race – Week 1

Allen Pettigrew Jr,                            Twitter: @AP_The_Great_                              10/23/2018

1. Trae Young

trae youngMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Trae Young has increased his stock with every game he’s played this season (only 3). Young is currently averaging 23 points per game to go along with 8.3 assists. It truly looks the number 5 overall pick is leaving off where he started at Oklahoma University.

Young is taking a high volume of shots as many people expected and that’s leading to his amazing stat line this early in the season. Before his game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday Young’s game would largely be described as inefficient. He was shooting less than 36% from the field but knocking down the three at a steady 35% clip. But after his 35 point explosion, Trae easily became one of the most efficient rookies in this early season with shooting splits of 45-39-80.

Trae, of course, isn’t without flaw. He plays defense as well as a smaller guard who doesn’t have elite quickness possibly can. Even though the young guard holds his own on the offensive end he still hurts his team when on the court posting a -4 plus/minus three games into the season. Young will have all the offensive stats needed to win the award but will his opponents and team success is enough to dampen his individual achievements.

2. Luka Doncic

luka-doncicJerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images

Luka Doncic didn’t get off to the hottest start with his shy 10 points and 5 rebounds he posted against the Suns but he’s only improved since his debut. Going into his third game of the season he’s averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.

The young Slovenian bounced back from his debut with a massive 26 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He showed glimpses of how efficient he could be but it was enough to save his poor shooting numbers. After going 0 for 5 against Phoenix and going 4 for 9, Doncic currently sits at 28% from three. His struggles don’t stop there he’s shooting a shocking 54% after 11 tries at the stripe.

What’s even more stunning is Doncic’s 5 turnovers a game. Don’t expect the Euroleague MVP to continue this streak his craftiness will eventually shine through much like the behind the back pass he completed to Deandre Jordan. But he has shown a knack for rebounding averaging 7 a game which has surprisingly a better stat than his 3.5 assists a game. As the seasons go by I predict his shooting stroke will settle down at and his turnover ratio will become much more appealing of the most accomplished rookie in the league.

3. Deandre Ayton

deandre aytonMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s number 1 draft pick is sitting in the middle of the pack after struggling in his second outing. But after what we saw from him in his debut that 5 point game must just be a fluke. Ayton is nearly averaging a double-double at 11.5 ppg and 9 RPG with decent efficiency from the field.


Ayton has already experienced ups and downs in his career. His debut was spectacular tallying 18 points and 10 rebounds and showing off his touch. At 7-1 and 250 pounds you’d be right to expect Ayton to be physically opposing around the rim and he is but what is truly stunning is his ability to stretch the floor 16 feet to beyond the three-point line. Ayton is nearly as efficient around the rim as he is at stretching the floor and as that continues to expect him to climb up this list.

Thanks to Devin Booker, Ayton will have the space to operate on the post and give his team another reliable scorer. Ayton is the only rookie on this list with a positive plus-minus stat on this list and he is only one of three rookies who can boast that claim. As long as Ayton continues his efficient play and makes strides on the defensive end you can pencil him in for this award by March.

4. Jaren Jackson Jr.

jaren jacksonJustin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to be the dark horse for the Rookie of the Year award when you’re a top 5 pick but somehow Jaren Jackson Jr. is doing it but for how much longer. He’s currently averaging the most efficient shooting splits out of the entire field. While scoring 17 points a game and grabbing 6 rebounds Jackson Jr. manages to hold his own against the big boys just fine.

Jackson Jr. does it all quietly. He doesn’t have the flare that his contemporaries have but he’s taken advantage of every possession he gets. When matched up against smaller players he makes sure to bury them under the block for the easy lay-in. When used as the trailer Jackson is more than able to knock down the three with consistency at 40%. Even though he wasn’t known for his scoring prowess during the draft he’s been in his bag for the first two games of the season.

Triple J is showing a lot of savvy early in his career. His understanding of how to maneuver the pop and roll after setting a pick is obvious when you look at his shot chart. His high IQ shows on the defensive end as well, he’s currently averaging 1.5 blocks and steals a game. If he continues to shoot as well as he does and continues to standout of defense we may be looking at a borderline unicorn.

5. Marvin Bagley 

Marvin BagleyRocky Widner – NBAE via Getty Images

As possibly the best athlete on this list, Bagley has shown it even if his numbers haven’t. With the lowest points and second lowest rebound averages on this list at 12.7 and 6.7 respectfully, he’s been fun to watch. Just to add salt to the wound Bagley also gets the least amount of playing time with Sacramento crowded frontcourt.

Bagley is bar none the best rim runner on this list and it shows when you look at the numbers. He’s taken 22 of his 29 field goals within 10 feet of the rim where he’s making 63% of his shots. He’s using his size and athleticism whether running the lanes on the fast break, fighting for rebounds, and finishing over opponents in the post.

If Bagley continues his play he may be able to crack the Kings starting lineup. If he doesn’t expect him to be one of the best rookie spark plugs in the league. As Bagley becomes more acclimated to the pace of the league I expect Bagley’s shooting splits to improve as he and De’Aaron Fox continue to build chemistry.

Traveling Hoopers In Review: Los Angeles Laker Vs. Portland Trail Brazers

Phillip Dixon                                   Twitter: @65_Wizardof MO                               10/19/2018

It’s the first game people, THE FIRST GAME! Can everyone stop jumping the gun and settle down. This morning when waking up and going straight to my phone because I’m a millennial, I started out my daily routine by checking YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter immediately. In between all three of these different outlets, I continued to see common topics being discussed by sportswriters and personalities. “Did last night show that Lonzo ball does not mesh well with the new Lakers” and “Did last night show who the better point guard was on the Lakers team”. People, can we please all calm down? I know this is the era of the twenty-four-hour sports news cycle, so you have to come up with some wack topics to discuss to fill up time, but this was immediately after the game. We could be talking about many other things that make sense to the context of this being the first game for Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers, but to jump the gun like I have been seeing is ridiculous. 

Lonzo-Ball-5Andrew D. Bernstein-NBAE

The Lakers looked interesting all together. Yes, we all still have to get used to seeing Lebron in a Lakers jersey, but that time will come quickly for all of us because we all know this is the Lakers we are talking about so even if it has to get stuffed down our throats (which it will), we will get used to it because we will see them on tv all the time. Just like most game ones of new teammates coming together, we saw that the chemistry was not there quite yet. This is definitely not an issue though. The Lakers have players with too high of IQ’s though so that won’t be a problem. You just have to what sports media. Yes, give them time.

cj and dameJaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

So, excluding the sloppiness of the Lakers, the Trailblazers backcourt looked fantastic as always. The Lakers apparently can’t win in Portland and that did not change for sure last night. But, as a team that shoots a lot of threes, will this strategy work for them in the long run. IT hasn’t worked yet because they exit the playoffs early every year. This style of play is good for the regular season and the beginning of the season especially but outside of Golden State who are the outliers, we have yet to see success. The style of play last night that I saw from the Lakers seems like it is more lasting and at the end of the day will bring about more success. We shall see throughout the course of the season. I hope I’m wrong because Dame and C.J. deserve to go far in the playoffs but I’m positive I’m not wrong. Let’s just say that.

3 of College Basketball’s Most Exciting Player This Season

Calvin McGowan   |   Twitter:@Cmcgowanii   |   10/19/2018

The NBA season has begun, and college and high school ball start in November. Basketball is back stateside ladies and gentlemen! And with that, all the hot takes, pontificating, and general nonsense that entails. I come to you today to only contribute to one of these things.
Today, I come to talk about college basketball. More specifically, I come to talk about a few of college basketball’s most exciting players. Do you only watch basketball to see dudes get put on posters? Do you look for defenders to be embarrassed night in and night out? Do YOU, dear reader, want, desperately, to see the type of ball handling that puts defenders on skates? Well… two out of three ain’t bad. Here (in no particular order) are four college basketballs most exciting players this upcoming season.

Mike Daum 6’9: 235 F Sr South Dakota St

mike D(Dec. 4, 2017 – Source: Peter Aiken/Getty Images North America)

This bucket getting big man was one of only 4 players last season to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. If you ever feel compelled to ask what he’s doing on the basketball court, the answer is always whatever he wants. He has a solid post game and stopping from getting to the hoop is a bit like trying to stop a train. He may not be getting to the hoop fast, but you’re certainly not about to stop him. Couple that with the fact that he’s a very good shooter knocking down 42% of his shots from beyond the arc, and you have one of the most fascinating, and unstoppable offensive forces in college basketball today.

Zion Williamson 6-7 285 F Fr Duke

Zion W(Photo: Jeff Blake, USA TODAY Sports Images)

If you like basketball and haven’t been living under a rock, you know about Mr. Williamson here. And if you know about him you, you know about him for one reason, and one reason only.


Yes, Zion Williamson is a highlight reel waiting to happen. Athletically, this young man is an anomaly. He’s 285 lbs. with next level body control and can jump out of the gym. Make no mistake, though, for all the of his athleticism and skill, Williamson isn’t what you would call “a shooter”. If your life depended on somebody hitting a 3, you don’t want that person to be him. Fortunately for us though that means that his athleticism and tenacity guarantee that he’ll be spending the season making highlight reels and putting people on posters.

Kerwin Roach, II 6’4″ 180 G Sr Texas

Kerwin RAndrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

This young man is a tough defender averaging 1.5 steals a game and is respectable from three shooting 36% from deep. One of my favorite players in college basketball, he’s a competitor that consistently finds ways to contribute. Roach was also responsible for some of the best dunks in college basketball last season. He’s a surprising explosive athlete given his wiry frame. He put people on posters as often as anyone in college basketball last year. The problem was inconsistency. Roach played like one of the best players, and the Longhorns one of the best teams, in college basketball about as often as not. Here’s to hoping for more consistent play, and more posters.