After the 1962-63 season concluded, the National Basketball Association (NBA) awarded five players with the first all-rookie team. Zelmo Beaty, Dave DeBusschere, Terry Dischinger, John Havlicek, and Chet Walker were the first players ever to receive the honor. It wasn’t until the 1988-89 season until the league expanded the award to include a second all-rookie team.
The NBA All-Rookie teams tend to favor first-year players with the most opportunity for playing time. Typically, the players who suit up for a team that lacks playoff potential will garner better opportunities to land in one of those 10-plus spots. Over the past 31 seasons, there have been 319 players named to an All-Rookie team. Of those players, only 113 played beyond the regular season.
Recently, Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors was the only player in his 2013 All-Rookie class to make the playoffs. A trend that has continued through this past season; former teammates Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet were the only ones in their class.
Conversely, there have been two seasons (in the two-team era) with more rookies playing in the playoffs than not. Both the 2002 and 1998 classes had six rookies play more than the allotted 82-regular season games.
2019-20 Eligible Rookies
Since the 2005 NBA Draft, there have been 60 players names called onto the stage each year. Of those players, on average, 52 of them will play minutes in the NBA. For the 2019 NBA Draft, at least five players are guaranteed to not play a minute. Chuma Okeke of the Orlando Magic and Bol Bol of the Denver Nuggets will sit out due to injuries sustained during their collegiate season. Marcos Louzada Silva, Deividas Sirvydis, and Vanja Marinkovic will spend their seasons overseas.
In addition to those five, more players will spend time developing in the G-League. Eight drafted and 21 undrafted players have been signed to two-way contracts. Playing in the G-League and/or going undrafted doesn’t disqualify a player from earning All-Rookie. However, it makes it very difficult.
Mitchell Robinson spent time with the Westchester Knicks before going on to earning All-Rookie Second team. Yogi Ferrell also earned All-Rookie Second team after going undrafted. Robinson and Ferrell are two of five players to be drafted in the second round or later and earn an All-Rookie team over the past four seasons.
2019-20 NBA All-Rookie Second Team
Daniel Gafford – Chicago Bulls
Selected with the 38th pick, the Chicago Bulls took a flier on Daniel Gafford who was once thought of as a lottery pick. Gafford was the 39th ranked recruit coming out of high school, according to 247 Sports. He lived up to the hype throughout his freshman year at Arkansas. However, his plateau from freshman to sophomore year caused a drop from a lottery pick to the second round.
His professional debut was on Friday, July 5th in the Las Vegas Summer League. He lined up against the Los Angeles Lakers and dominated from the tip. He ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds to go along with his four blocks.
Gafford’s impactful play has continued to shine through the preseason. There have been no signs of him slowing down because of his high motor. To further his case, the Bulls have had injury problems in the frontcourt, carving out plenty of opportunities for him to shine.
Rui Hachimura – Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards surprised the basketball community when they selected Rui Hachimura with the ninth pick. His game has plenty of skill but was projected by most draft analysts to slip into the late lottery to the late first round. Regardless of draft position, he finds himself in an ideal situation to showcase his game on the next level.
General Manager Tommy Sheppard has completely changed the culture in the nation’s capital. He has put his full trust in Coach Scott Brooks to develop the young talent, similar to the way he did during his Oklahoma City Thunder tenure. Hachimura falls in between a Jeff Green-type and Serge Ibaka-type. Both of which Brooks was able to turn into effective NBA players.
Through two preseason games, Hachimura has shown his ability to impact the game in multiple ways. He has a relentless mentality for rebounding, dog mentality defensively while being efficient offensively. He will prove Sheppard to be an intelligent general manager, as his impact on both ends of the floor won’t go unnoticed.
Michael Porter Jr. – Denver Nuggets
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Blake Griffin earned All-Rookie honors at least one season after the year they were drafted due to injury. Michael Porter Jr. will look to join them as he sat out all of last season and the majority of his collegiate career due to injury. His tantalizing skills has been teased since he was a top recruit coming out of high school.
Porter Jr. has the ability to score the basketball in a multitude of fashions. His outside shot continues to improve to be on pace with the best big shooters. Despite not making a three through two preseason games, his efficiency shooting has been impressive (71.4 field-goal percent).
Michael Porter Jr drills a step back on his first possession back! pic.twitter.com/uWwREDBkio
— 3Points (@thethreepoints) October 9, 2019
Combine his skill of shooting and putting the ball on the floor with his elite leaping ability and quickness, he suddenly looks like a lock for an NBA All-Rookie team. The only thing holding him back is the unprecedented depth of the Denver Nuggets.
Tyler Herro – Miami Heat
Often labeled as a “shooter”, Tyler Herro has done a lot over the past year and a half to prove he is more than that. Despite being the third offensive option at the University of Kentucky (behind Keldon Johnson and PJ Washington) he was able to score more points and shoot a better field goal percentage than J.J. Redick during his freshman season.
His playmaking skills have improved the most through his college career and through the preseason. He is averaging 13 points per game while maintaining a three-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio in 25 minutes. Herro is pushing Dion Waiters for the starting shooting guard position.
The situation with the Miami Heat fits Herro well. He comes from a high-profile college, where he was used to picking his spots to take over. Playing on a team with Jimmy Butler and Waiters, he will seamlessly fit in by knowing when to defer and when to attack.
Jarrett Culver – Minnesota Timberwolves
Exploding onto the NBA radar, Culver’s massive leap in his second season at Texas Tech University led to him being selected sixth overall. The Red Raiders had a total roster overhaul and Culver grabbed the reins immediately to lead them to the National Championship game.
His impressive overall game makes it difficult to not compare him to the likes of Jimmy Butler, Khris Middleton, and Paul George. He certainly has a long way before he reaches those levels. However, he will enter his rookie season and immediately have an impact.
Coach Ryan Saunders has done an incredible job of connecting with the players to inspire them to work hard, despite continuing to miss the playoffs. Culver joining a positive locker room, where the expectations will be relatively low is his ideal situation to succeed.
2019-20 NBA All-Rookie First Team
De’Andre Hunter – Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk ensured De’Andre Hunter would putting on a Hawks jersey. His fit for the young core couldn’t have been better. Schlenk stated in an article for The Athletic:
“His strengths are obviously some of our weaknesses from last year. If you want to win at a high level, you have to have a guy who can go out there and defend the other team’s best player. You don’t have to shut down that player, but you have to be able to slow him down, and that is his biggest strength.”
In the preseason, Hunter has shown promise on the offensive end. He is not simply a catch-and-shoot player. He can get two feet in the paint off the dribble and make plays for others. Here is an example of him beating his man off the dribble and getting Cam Reddish a wide-open look.
Cam’s jumper is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/qgV8CDRvp9
— Duke Basketball (@BlueDevils) October 8, 2019
Hunter will plug right into the starting lineup for Atlanta at the small forward position. His impact will be evident from the first game through the end of the season and lead to an NBA All-Rookie First team award.
Carsen Edwards – Boston Celtics
Historically, Carsen Edwards had one of the best collegiate careers of all-time. He scored nearly 2,000 points and knocked down 135 threes in 108 games. Concerns over his size and who he will defend at the next level caused his slide into the second round.
Coach Brad Stevens’ creativity offensively will allow Edwards to be put in spots for him to be successful. His ability to get going quickly will allow him to play a sixth-man role and play to his strengths.
During the preseason, Edwards has not been afraid to put up shots. He is averaging 10.5 shots a game in only 18 minutes of play. He will have games where he will see his first shot go down and explode for a 30-point performance. On the other hand, he will have games where he will be cold and have a limited impact on the game. Overall, his presence will be felt throughout the season.
Brandon Clarke – Memphis Grizzlies
NBA Twitter’s favorite draft prospect, Brandon Clarke, will prove the community right when he earns All-Rookie First team. Landing in the most ideal situation with the Memphis Grizzlies, Clarke’s efficiency on both ends will be historic for rookies.
Playing alongside second-year player Jaren Jackson Jr, Clarke’s offensive weaknesses will be nearly eliminated. Jackson can stretch the floor to three, which opens the interior where Clarke is the most efficient.
Add-in a downhill attacking player like Ja Morant and Clarke will be getting a lot of lob opportunities and easy catch-and-finish buckets. His game translates extremely well to the new-aged NBA. Clarke will be playing in the NBA for a long time and the start of his successful career will begin with an NBA All-Rookie team selection.
RJ Barrett – New York Knicks
Steve Nash’s Godson, RJ Barrett, enters his rookie season with a massive chip on his shoulder. He has been criticized for his inefficiencies shooting the ball and tunnel vision at times. After a disappointing postseason with Duke, Barrett has been improving those two areas.
Over the summer, Barrett worked on tweaking his jump shot. The most noticeable difference is the location of his guide (right) hand. While at Duke, his guide hand was nearly on top of the ball, causing inconsistencies in the rotation. His new shot has pushed his guide hand lower on the ball, which will lead to a more consistent shot.
His playmaking and ability to get to the rim has been impressive thus far. He makes up for the lack of shake in his handle, with a change of pace and physicality. Throughout the season, he will have ups and downs with his shooting because of the new shot but will put pressure on the defense all game long.
RJ Barrett played poorly in the 1st half, missing 4 of his 5 FG attempts.
But was the best player on the floor in the 2nd half.
Finished with 17 points (6-of-13 shooting), 7 rebs and 3 assists – and knocked down the game-winning FT’s
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) October 8, 2019
The desire to be great is there, the worth ethic is there, and the situation for him to shine is there. It is hard to imagine RJ Barrett not having success in this league.
Zion Williamson – New Orleans Pelicans
Surprise, surprise. Zion Williamson is listed on All-Rookie First team. The YouTube sensation from his high school days continues to prove doubters wrong. His generational leaping ability paired with his football player strength makes for a combination this league has never seen.
The New Orleans Pelicans provide Williamson with the best opportunity for playing time and mentorship. Their signing of veteran JJ Redick and trading for Derrick Favors will give him the tutelage he needs to have a long successful career.
In addition to the veterans, coach Alvin Gentry has displayed his knowledge of how to get Williamson in places he will succeed. In the preseason, he has been coming off curl screens and dribble hands-offs, where he can get downhill and violently attack the rim. Gentry understands it will take time for Williamson’s handle to develop enough to attack one-on-one, so he is slowing the game down for him.
Williamson will put up massive numbers this season because of his finishing ability around the rim. Working to improve his weaknesses will jump-start a potential Hall-of-Fame career.
If there was an All-Rookie Third team, it would look like this: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies; Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers; Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia 76ers; PJ Washington, Charlotte Hornets; Nicolas Claxton, Brooklyn Nets
Embed from Getty Images