2022 NBA Rookie Class off to Wonderful Start After Debuts
The 2022 NBA rookie class is off to a fantastic start in the first two opening nights of the NBA season. Last year, we saw Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, Jalen Green, and Evan Mobley have fantastic rookie campaigns. For some rookies, there is an adjustment period to adjust to the speed of the NBA. However, multiple rookies made an impact on their teams in their debut. Let’s take a look at what some of the NBA rookies’ debuts looked like.
Paolo Banchero looked like the number-one overall pick in his NBA debut. In Wednesday night’s game against Detroit, Banchero looked like a potential superstar in the league. Banchero led Orlando in minutes in the first NBA game of his career. In those 35 minutes, Banchero looked like the best player on the court. The forward from Duke dropped 27 points on 11/18 from the field, without taking a three-point attempt, while also racking up five assists and nine rebounds. Banchero was the first rookie since LeBron James to have a debut of 25/5/5. Paolo already looks like a legitimate piece for Orlando moving forward with this debut performance.
Facing off against Banchero, Jaden Ivey also had a nice debut. The athletic guard from Purdue, who was drafted 5th overall by Detroit, should form a deadly backcourt duo with last year’s number one overall pick Cade Cunningham. During last year with the Boilermakers, Ivey was one of the best scorers in all of college basketball. The rookie guard picked up where he left off by dropping 19 points on 8/15 from the field and 2/4 from three in his NBA debut. Already starting alongside Cunningham, Ivey played 31 minutes throughout the game and delivered four assists to go along with three rebounds. If Ivey can become a consistent scoring threat as projected, the Pistons also are set up very well for the future.
Detroit also found a big man in this past year’s draft in Jalen Duren to go alongside Ivey. Duren committed to Memphis and was one of the top recruits coming out of high school. After Detroit picked Ivey with the 5th pick, they found a way to steal Duren with the 13th overall pick. With coming off the bench in his debut to back up Isaiah Stewart, Duren made an imminent impact filling up the stat sheet. With recording the most minutes off the bench by any player for Detroit, Duren logged himself a double-double in 21 minutes of action. Duren had himself a 14-point, 11-rebound game with blocking three Orlando shots in limited minutes.
The Indiana Pacers landed the Pac-12 Player of the Year in Bennedict Mathurin with the 6th overall pick in this past year’s draft. Mathurin, a former Arizona Wildcat, was known for his offensive ability at the collegiate level which could potentially translate to the professional level. In the Pacers loss against the Wizards, Mathurin came off the bench and recorded the third most minutes by any Indiana player in his debut. Mathurin dropped 19 points on 7/15 shooting from the field while hitting three shots from behind the arc. Besides the scoring, the 6’7 forward pulled in seven rebounds as well. If Mathurin can become a legitimate scoring threat besides Tyrese Halliburton, the Pacers could have a great start to their rebuild.
Jabari Smith Jr.
Jabari Smith, Jr. was in consideration to go number one overall instead of Banchero. Instead, Smith dropped to the Houston Rockets with the third pick. Wednesday night, Smith started for Houston against the Hawks in his debut and played decently well. In 32 minutes of action, the 6’11 forward from Auburn recorded 17 points and seven rebounds. With those 17 points, Smith did struggle shooting the ball. Smith shot 3/11 from three which was eight out of his nine misses in the game. However, even with the first-game shooting struggles, there should be no worries for Smith. During his freshman campaign at Auburn, Smith shot 42% from three.
Throughout the 2022 NBA Draft, Shaedon Sharpe was one of the biggest question marks within the entire draft. Sharpe came out of high school as the number three overall recruit but never suited up for the Kentucky Wildcats. Instead, he went through his freshman year and entered the draft. Even with the question marks, Sharpe was selected by Portland with the 7th overall pick. In his debut, Sharpe played a limited role in the win against the Kings. Logging only 16 minutes, Sharpe was efficient in terms of scoring. The guard recorded 12 points on 4/6 shooting and a perfect 3/3 from deep. Sharpe won’t be asked to play a significant role for Portland early on. However, if the rookie can score and shoot efficiently, there should be plenty of minutes waiting for him in the future.
Even with seeing all of these successful debuts for the rookies of the 2022 NBA Draft, we still missed out on multiple other debuts. The number two overall pick, Chet Holmgren, is out for the season for the Thunder. For the Kings, Keegan Murray, the fourth overall pick, was inactive in their opening game. This class has the potential to be super exciting throughout the season after watching the rookie’s NBA debut.