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NBA: Rookies To Keep An Eye On In 2017/18

Josh Jackson is certainly one to watch
Josh Jackson is certainly one to watch

Although the wait for the upcoming NBA season to tip-off is still enduring, the new campaign is on the horizon and as always, fans will be eager to witness the fresh breed of talent set to embark on the league when October arrives.

Top picks in the NBA Draft have the burden of living up to the hype, whilst hidden gems that had fallen down the pecking order can rise to make a statement without the spotlight shining over them too brightly.

Here’s a few high-profile names that will be expected to appear in the headlines:

Lakers Draft Lonzo Ball with Second Overall Pick | Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers Draft Lonzo Ball with Second Overall Pick | Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball (Los Angeles Lakers)

Arguably the media’s favourite for both right and wrong reasons, Ball is one of the most scrutinised newcomers thus far due to the media frenzy surrounding his increasingly notorious family who have been dubbed as Kardashian-like this summer.

His father, LaVar, has undeniably evolved into a celebrity making an abundance of television appearances promoting his eldest son ahead of his anticipated NBA debut, making some outrageous statements along the way too.

But moving aside from his dad/promoter, Lonzo, who spent his college years playing in California at UCLA, has all the tools to be a successful all-round point guard due to his capabilities both shooting and distributing.

Putting up impressive numbers during the NBA Summer League, the 19-year-old has everything in his armoury to prove himself to the masses with the Lakers.

Furthermore, at the Staples Center, the 2nd overall pick will compete with a team that will grant him freedom on the court and leadership of a developing roster.

Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia 76ers)

Taken as the overall 1st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fultz joins a Philadelphia team that exhibits a youthful and promising core alongside Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons.

Fultz arrives from the Washington Huskies where he spent a year following high school and will travel to the Wells Fargo Center as another rookie set to lead a team.

Due to his height (6’5) the 19-year-old can play both guard positions on the floor, and his speed and aggression alongside his desire to attack the rim and shoot off the dribble makes him a formidable offensive player.

Continuing to stretch his efficiency from mid-range and beyond the arc will be an aspect he will improve on, but the Eastern Conference side will be more focused on his ability to find Embiid in the paint, amongst other scoring options.

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

Drafted as the 3rd overall pick, Tatum commences his NBA journey with the historic Celtics following his college ball at Duke.

The 19-year-old small forward is a pure scorer possessing various effective ways to get his team buckets. His impressive mid-range game is complimented by his ability to create his own shot thanks to his expansive one-on-one and pull-up game, despite not being the quickest of individuals.

Alongside free agent acquisition Gordon Hayward, the rookie can provide as a further offensive outlet next season, relieving the stress off Isaiah Thomas who often carried the squad last year.

The St-Louis-born player can also compete as a power forward which adds to his flexibility to make an impact on the squad. However, unlike Ball and Fultz, the former Duke Blue Devil will find gaining regular minutes a difficulty behind other talents at Boston.

Josh Jackson (Phoenix Suns)

Down in Arizona, they now hold a potential defensive monster in the former Kansas Jayhawk who was drafted 4th overall. Playing as either a shooting guard or small forward, the 20-year-old is an energetic beast with lots of intensity on both ends of the floor.

There may not be a specific outlined aspect of his game that is striking just yet but the youngster presents himself as a player who can do a little bit of everything, providing as an all-round asset to any team.

Dennis Smith Jr. (Dallas Mavericks)

In north Texas, they drafted an explosive guard with the ability to turn a game on its head in the dying moments of a close battle.

From North Carolina State, the 19-year-old is already proven in college as a savvy scorer despite being slightly vulnerable on the defensive end.

Whether his game can translate onto the professional stage is yet to be determined but nonetheless, expect to see Smith feature in various highlight reels next season.

Other names to watch out for include Frank Ntilikina (New York Knicks), John Collins (Atlanta Hawks), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) amidst a host of others who could set the league alight.

If previous years are anything to go by, a name that has garnered little attention in Draft previews could undoubtedly make waves next season.

But for now, the impatient wait to see whether the aforementioned rising stars will step-up to the challenge, or if an unheralded underdog arises in unlikely fashion will continue.

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