This week on NBA.com, we're looking ahead into the future by making predictions for a few end of season honours.
After predicting the league's All-NBA Teams, we're shifting our focus to the All-Rookie Teams. As a disclaimer, this does not represent an official ballot, but rather an opinion on who should be selected.
If you need any proof that the future of the NBA is in great hands, look no further than this season's talented rookie class.
In addition to the can't-miss prospects that have proven to be worthy of that billing, there have been a number of diamonds in the rough that have emerged as key pieces of the future of a number of franchises.
MORE: Ranking the top rookies at the Orlando restart
Unlike the All-NBA Team selections, the NBA's All-Rookie Teams are not selected with respect to position, placing a spotlight on the best 10 overall players of the rookie class. While in some ways having no limitations makes the choices easier, it can also become more difficult to not have positional guidelines when making choices and the nuance surrounding rookie seasons makes things all the more difficult.
Is it more impressive for a rookie to put up big numbers on a floundering team or for a rookie to put up modest numbers as a reliable contributor on a postseason contender? Does more stock go into potential or current production?
With all of that in mind, I've tried my hand in predicting the 2020 All-Rookie Teams.
G: Ja Morant G: Kendrick Nunn F: Zion Williamson F: Rui Hachimura F: Brandon Clarke
It's not really a coincidence that each of these five players will be playing in the season's restart at the end of July. In finding that balance between winning and putting up numbers, when you find players that have done a little bit of both, it's a no-brainer.
Zion has played in only 19 games, but would really take five rookies in this class over him? Would you take anyone over him? He's off to one of the best starts in league history.
Happy 20th Birthday #Pelicans Zion Williamson! His 448 points are the 4th-most in a player's first 19 career games since the ABA-NBA merger. #WontBowDown pic.twitter.com/U8LiN28Glm- Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) July 6, 2020
You could argue that his 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds on 58.9% shooting have been more impactful than Ja's numbers so far. You'd probably lose the argument, but you could argue it.
MORE: Will Zion or Ja win ROY?
Morant, of course, has been the biggest driving factor in the resurgence of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise. We knew things would turn around for them one day, but his 17.6 points and class-leading 6.9 assists are why it's happened so fast. That, along with the guy he considers the steal of the draft in Clarke, who has often found ways to be effective while sometimes playing in a limited role. You could argue that Memphis has one of the most exciting futures of the league thanks to this rookie duo as well as 2019 All-Rookie First Team member Jaren Jackson Jr.
I recently wrote about Hachimura and how he will be given the ultimate green light to thrive in Orlando due to the absence of Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans. The restart is the perfect opportunity for Hachimura to showcase his skills and propel a team like the Washington Wizards into the postseason. They shouldn't be counted out, especially considering the state of the Brooklyn Nets, who have a number of roster questions looming ahead of the restart.
Last but certainly not least is Nunn, who you'd find a picture of beside the definition of "diamond in the rough." He's a bit older than the rest of his rookie class, but after going undrafted in 2019 and spending the ensuing season with the G League's Santa Cruz Warriors, Nunn has carved a role for himself in the league for many years to come.
The @miamiHEAT pushed their home record to 18-1 behind Kendrick Nunn's 33 PTS back in January! #NBARooks- NBA (@NBA) May 7, 2020
Watch the rookie's big night and more with the free preview of NBA League Pass.
*Offer not available in all markets pic.twitter.com/5SyqDV3c3m
The 24-year-old is producing at a high level, averaging 15.6 points and 3.4 assists per game for a Miami Heat team that can catch teams by surprise in the postseason. Nunn has also scored 20 or more 18 times this season, second behind only Morant. Not bad for an undrafted rook.
G: Coby White G: Tyler Herro G: RJ Barrett F: P.J. Washington F: Eric Paschall
The second team is where things got a little difficult for me, as there are about a dozen names that I considered before ultimately going with these five. For the most part, this is the group where a bit more stock was put into immediate production, rather than the team's overall success.
Let's start with White, who, despite having only started in just one game this season, has more 30-point games than any rookie not named Zion Williamson - they've each done it three times. It's not some strange scoring anomaly, either, as White has scored 20 or more points 13 times, tied with Barrett and Paschall for fourth-most in the rookie class.
As for Barrett, he deserves recognition for finding ways to produce in a rookie season that included a number of obstacles, including a serious ankle injury and the New York Knicks midseason coaching change. The 20-year-old has plenty of time to catch up to the other picks in the top three of this draft.
RJ Barrett ties his career-high (27 PTS) to put NYK up 3!@nyknicks 124@HoustonRockets 121- NBA (@NBA) March 3, 2020
7.6 to go, HOU ball ➡️ https://t.co/lZZApsOamv pic.twitter.com/APog39ydIB
As the lone second-round pick on this list, Paschall is certainly a diamond in the rough, who will soon have a role for a winning team. Conversely, Herro has carved a role within the culture of a winning franchise in the Heat and has the potential to become a third star alongside Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, but only time will tell; he's also my only second-teamer that will be participating in the season's restart.
The toughest decision here was choosing Washington over names like Terence Davis II, Jaxson Hayes, Kevin Porter Jr. and Michael Porter Jr. Washington started his career off with a bang, setting the NBA record for most triples in a debut after going 7-for-11 against the Chicago Bulls.
Welcome to the NBA, @PJWashington!- Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) October 24, 2019
7️⃣ 3-PT FG (Most by any player in his NBA debut)#AllFly pic.twitter.com/XlcpGGvsBb
There's room for improvement defensively, but Washington showed plenty of potential as a stretch-four for a Charlotte Hornets team that has an intriguing young core for the future and was finding its stride prior to the season's postponement. Had Washington not performed as well as he had this season, the future of the Hornets franchise would look much bleaker.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.