NBA All-Rookie Teams
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2020-21 NBA All-Rookie Teams: Revisiting Their Draft Grades

The 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie Teams have been officially announced. It’s time to take a look back at how I rated these players when they were drafted.

2020-21 NBA All-Rookie First Team

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

2020 Draft Grade: A+ (Round 1, Pick 3)

What I Wrote Back Then:

This was the best possible scenario for Charlotte. Their playmaking and star factor are both negligible. LaMelo provides both. His development may be hurt by being in Charlotte, but he’s been able to develop pretty well on his own thus far. His playmaking will certainly translate, and once his shooting efficiency catches up, he will be a special player. Hopefully, Charlotte will put the pieces around him to succeed.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

I nailed this one. I gave LaMelo Ball the highest possible grade, and he ended up winning the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year Award. As his excellent rookie campaign indicated, he’s going to be a special player in the NBA. The Hornets wised up midway through the season and finally gave him the starting job.

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

2020 Draft Grade: B (Round 1, Pick 1)

What I Wrote Back Then:

Despite his questionable comments earlier today, Minnesota was not dissuaded from selecting Edwards with the first overall pick. The fit is fairly questionable, pairing his defensive inefficiency alongside D’Angelo Russell. You can’t fault them (yet) for making the pick based on upside and scoring ability, but it remains to be seen how two volume scorers in the backcourt will work out in Minnesota.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

I think I fell prey to recency bias here after Edwards’ pre-draft comments. He struggled the first half of the year, but really started to figure it out after the All-Star break. B was a little lower than I think he deserved for his first season, but I don’t think that was super far off.

Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

2020 Draft Grade: A- (Round 1, Pick 12)

What I Wrote Back Then:

It’s a little surprising Haliburton fell this far considering where many had him before the draft. He’s definitely more of a known quantity in the 2020 NBA Draft class, and he’s above average in a lot of areas. This is a good value pick for the Kings, and Haliburton should be a good playmaker in the NBA.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

Tyrese Haliburton finished the year averaging 13 points and five assists per game on 47.2/40.9/85.7 shooting splits. That’s an A grade if I’ve ever seen one. I really liked Haliburton entering the 2020 NBA Draft, and I think my evaluation was spot on here.

Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

2020 Draft Grade: A (Round 1, Pick 19)

What I Wrote Back Then:

Saddiq Bey is a really good selection at 19. He’s a fantastic shooter and good defender. After trading away Luke Kennard, a three-point marskman like Bey will be a great piece for a rebuilding Detroit team. In terms of value, this is the best pick they’ve made all night.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

Bey presented one of the more complete skillsets entering the 2020 Draft and that’s why I really liked the Pistons taking him at No. 19 overall. He wound up averaging 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds a game on really solid shooting numbers. 38% from three-point range looks really nice, and Bey is also a plus defender that will continue to grow into his role. This was another guy I got right.

Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets

2020 Draft Grade: N/A (Undrafted in 2018)

What I Wrote Back Then: N/A

Was I Right?

Jae’Sean Tate wasn’t on my radar at all. With LaMelo Ball, he’s the second All-Rookie First Team selection this year to have played in Australia’s NBL. Tate put together a really solid rookie year for a Houston team that needed something to be optimistic about. Even if he had been drafted this past year, I’ll say up front that I would not have given him a high grade. Good on him for proving a lot of people wrong this season.

2020-21 NBA All-Rookie Second Team

Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

2020 Draft Grade: B+ (Round 1, Pick 25)

What I Wrote Back Then:

New York needs some scorers, and Quickley fits the bill. He’s an efficient shooter and solid playmaker who should get a decent amount of minutes in the Knicks guard rotation. He could develop into a good player, but I’m a little confused why Desmond Bane or Tyrell Terry weren’t selected here.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

I’m absolutely giving myself major credit for this one. I remember specifically saying on the draft livestream at the time that Quickley would be better than Tyrese Maxey, the other Kentucky guard who was drafted four picks earlier. Really great season for Quickley, who is just another thing for Knicks fans to be excited about. His floater is such a great aspect of his game and it’s quickly becoming his signature shot. Quickley wound up shooting 38.9% from three-point range and finished with an above-average 15.8 Player Efficiency Rating.

Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies

2020 Draft Grade: A+ (Round 1, Pick 30)

What I Wrote Back Then:

This is the steal of the draft. Incredible decision by Memphis to trade into the 30th pick. Desmond Bane is a knockdown shooter, great playmaker, and has a high motor that fits well into the Memphis culture. He should be able to contribute right away as a combo guard behind Ja Morant.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

Yes. Bane is an absolute dog, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him get more involved in Memphis’ offense. He finished the regular season shooting 43.2% from deep, and also had really good shooting numbers in the playoffs. More minutes and more shot opportunities could make Desmond Bane a real problem down the road. Bane was one of my favorite prospects on draft night, and he’s certainly deserving of a nod for the NBA All-Rookie Teams.

Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers

2020 Draft Grade: A (Round 1, Pick 5)

What I Wrote Back Then:

Cleveland makes a very smart pick here. Okoro is a hard-nosed player who is probably the best defender in the class. He also has the offensive upside and athleticism to be a solid contributor in the NBA. Having drafted Collin Sexton and Darius Garland over the last two seasons, I love that Cleveland went with a wing here.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

Yeah, but he’s a top-five pick, so you can decide how impressive that is. Okoro’s rookie year went exactly how most analysts expected. He played great defense and didn’t shoot all that great. We’ll see how he does in the future as Cleveland looks to rebuild from the ground up.

Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons

2020 Draft Grade: D+ (Round 1, Pick 16)

What I Wrote Back Then:

I don’t like this pick at all. Stewart probably would have been available in the late first or early second round. He’s more of a traditional center who can knock some bodies around down low, but he doesn’t currently have an outside shot. At 6’9″ he might still grab some rebounds, but this is a really bizarre pick for Detroit.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

No, I missed on this one pretty bad. Stewart ended up being a great pick for the Pistons, averaging 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a game with fewer fouls than I expected. He also finished with a 16.4 Player Efficiency Rating (league average is 15). The pick didn’t make sense to me at the time, but Stewart outperformed my expectations this year.

Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

2020 Draft Grade: F (Round 1, Pick 4)

What I Wrote Back Then:

Wow, this is such a classic Bulls pick. Patrick Williams was the ACC Sixth Man of the Year, and most projected him to go in the late lottery. However, he is nowhere near a top 5 player in this class. With wings like Deni Avdija or Isaac Okoro available, I don’t see how the Bulls justify this pick.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Was I Right?

Maybe it’s just that I’m stubborn, but I’m still not sold on Patrick Williams. You have to understand that part of my draft grade is the value the team got with their selection. I don’t see how this guy was worth the fourth overall pick in the draft. Him not making First Team kind of proves me right there, but I digress. He made the NBA All-Rookie Teams, so obviously he wasn’t a complete disaster like I thought. Williams shot the ball well and played a lot of minutes for the Bulls. I may not be sold, but Second Team is Second Team. I’ll take the L for now.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how my draft evaluations turned out with respect to the 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie Teams. Of the 10 players selected, I think my draft grades were accurate for six of them, inaccurate for two of them, and a little off or inconclusive for the other two. Not bad! I’ll take what I’ve learned from this season and adjust future evaluations accordingly.

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