OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable: Selecting All-Rookie teams from deep class

OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies . (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies . (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Rookies are the focus of question14 of the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable series as the writing team selects the two All-Rookie teams.

OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley won’t land on an All-Rookie team. However, as the T.I. writers noted yesterday the forward has shown potential and at 19 has an untapped ceiling.

The fact he’ll miss the cut isn’t an indictment of his play. Rather, this campaign and draft class are one of the deepest in years. In fact, there are at least 15 players who could present strong arguments to be on an All-Rookie team. the second team, in particular, is up for debate.

As for the first team, they’ll be no argument Ja Morant and Zion Williamson are shoo-ins.

What makes this season’s group compelling is the number of rookies playing a pivotal role on playoff squads.

With that, I give you question 14 from the series…

Q14: Who makes your 1st team and 2nd All-Rookie teams?

Shontelle Matano:
Two rookies who have surprised me this season are Kendrick Nunn and Eric Paschall. After playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors and being picked up by the Miami Heat, Nunn has shown exceptional confidence and play averaging 15.6 points per game. This has seen him earn a spot in the starting lineup.

Paschall who was selected 41st in the 2019 draft has shown amazing potential averaging 14 points a game. His 34 point, 13 rebound performance against the Portland Trail Blazers was incredible. He has a great future ahead of him.

First team: Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Kendrick Nunn, RJ Barrett, Coby White
Second team: Tyler Herro, Brandon Clarke, Eric Paschall, Darius Garland, Rui Hachimura

Rylan Stiles:

The first team has to include both Ja Morant and Zion Williamson. Morant has sustained success this season and catapulted Memphis into the playoffs all while changing the identity of the team.

I also have to give the nod to Wiz standout Rui Hachimura who is a true building block for their franchise after a very impressive first season.

Coby White has to be the second guard on the first all-rookie team given his absolute jawdropping production offensively.

First team: Ja Morant, Coby White, Kendrick Nunn, Rui Hachimura  Zion Williamson,
Second team: Tyler Herro,  Terence Davis, RJ Barrett, Michael Porter Jr., Brandon Clarke

Dustin McGowen

The biggest surprise of the season has to be Ja Morant. I thought he’d be good, but not this quickly. Morant is averaging almost 18 points per game with 6.9 assists per contest. He’s also shown himself to be a leader on and off the court for Memphis. This was clearly evident during the Andre Iguodala beef. Ja Morant has ‘IT’.

First Team: Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Kendrick Nunn, RJ Barrett, Rui Hachimura
Second Team: Coby White. Tyler Herro, Michael Porter Jr.,  Brandon Clarke, P.J. Washington

Tamberlyn Richardson:

This class is loaded with quality guards to the point at least two (Coby White, Darius Garland) don’t make either of my teams. Keys that factored in my selection were two-way players, games played, overall production and team record.

One player who stood out is Charlotte Hornets’ big man PJ Washington. His stat line of 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks is hard to ignore. While Hachimura making a team won’t be disputed — two factors give Washington the edge.

Those items are games played and perimeter shooting. PJ played in 58 games while Rui (44) missed several contests due to injury. Most would automatically assume Hachimura has a better 3-point efficiency but again it’s Washington with a better average.

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In fact, the perimeter efficiency of these youngsters is somewhat surprising. The Heat youngsters Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro are excellent perimeter shooters. Yet they do not lead the class (note: minimum of 1.8 attempts):

  • Michael Porter Jr. – 42.2 percent on 2.1 attempts
  • Terence Davis – 39.6 percent on 3.5 attempts
  • Tyler Herro – 39.1 percent on 5.4 attempts
  • PJ Washington – 37.4 percent on 4 attempts
  •  Ja Morant – 36.7 percent on 2.4 attempts
  • Kendrick Nunn – 36.2 percent on 5.8 attempts
  • Darius Garland – 35.5 percent on 5.0 attempts
  • De’Andre Hunter – 35.5 percent on 4.8 attempts
  • Coby White – 35.4 percent on 5.8 attempts
  • RJ Barrett – 32.0 percent on 3.5 attempts
  • Eric Paschall – 28.7 percent on 2.2 attempts
  • Rui Hachimura – 27.4 percent on 1.8 attempts

Part of the reason Terence Davis makes my list is the above stat. Factor in his resiliency, defensive prowess and raising his game filling in for injured Raptors. A little insight on Davis — on January 4th he played eight minutes and coach Nick Nurse said afterward – ‘Yeah that was about five minutes too many”. Instead of benching him, the very next game Nurse started Davis. The rookie responded with 23 points (career-high), 11 rebounds, five assists, a steal and went 4 of 8 from deep.

Also of note, though Porter Jr, Clarke and Herro all missed significant games they are key contributors on playoff teams which gives them an edge.

First team: Ja Morant, Kendrick Nunn, Rui Hachimura, PJ Washington  Zion Williamson
Second team: Tyler Herro, Terence Davis, RJ Barrett,  Michael Porter Jr., Brandon Clarke

Honorable Mention: Coby White, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter (especially after All-Star Break), Eric Paschal

Next. 30 x 30 roundtable Q12: Getting Defensive. dark

Apologies for the late posting of this question – experienced a day of not feeling well so questions 14 and 15 will both be featured today to keep the series on track. Wednesday the team will address the question of which teams benefit the most from the long hiatus.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy day.