Dallas Mavericks swingman Luka Doncic leads this year’s NBA rookie class with 20.7 points per game, but Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and former #1 pick Deandre Ayton from the Phoenix Suns were major contributors to their teams in the first half of the season.

Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks rookie, shoots over OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors. (Image: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Doncic, 19, is impressing everyone because the teenager from Solovenia is leading the Mavs in scoring this season. Young is second in scoring among rookies with 16.9 points per game for the Hawks. Top pick Ayton is third averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Doncic and Young Swap

The Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks made a swap on draft day. The Hawks drafted Luka Doncic and sent him to the Dallas Mavericks for Trae Young and a draft pick.

Young, 20, got off to a slow start until he exploded for 35 points early in the season. He’s settled into his role as the starting point guard for the Hawks averaging 7.6 assists per game. His shooting is his biggest issue. Young hit the third most three-pointers among rookies with 99, but he’s only hitting less than 30 percent.

Luke Doncic: 20.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 19.27 PER
Trae Young: 16.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 14.49 PER

Doncic leads the Mavs in scoring with 20.7 points per game. He also adds 7.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Doncic made 134 treys through 55 games, hitting 34.8 percent from downtown. He’s shooting 43 percent overall.

Doncic has a 19.27 PER, which is good for third-best among his class. Young is only ranked #8 with a 14.49 efficiency rating.

No Bust in PHX for Ayton

Most rookies would feel like a stint with the Suns would be an exile. Deandre Ayton, 20, was thrilled to play in Phoenix. He didn’t have to travel too far because he played his collegiate ball at Arizona. Fans fell in love with his enthusiasm for the Suns since day one.

Ayton is not putting up monster numbers, but everyone is relieved the big man was not a bust. He averages 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Ayton is the most efficient rookie among his class with a 21.04 PER rating. Ayton and Mitchell Robinson from the Knicks are the only rookies in the Top 50 in PER.

JJJ, Bags, and Two Knicks

Only ten rookies scoring ten or more points this season. Two of them are on the New York Knicks. The Knicks are the worst team in the NBA, but giving a chunk of minutes to young players. Kevin Knox from Kentucky is seventh among rookies with 12.5 points per game. Teammate Allonzo Trier is putting up 10 points a night for the Knicks.

Marvin Bagley is coming off the bench for the Sacramento Kings. He’s putting up 13.3 points in only 24 minutes of action.

The Grizzlies selected Jaren Jackson, Jr., a 6-foot-11 big man from Michigan State, with the fourth overall pick. He’s quietly put up 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game with the Griz. He started all but two games this season and he’s hitting 50.6 percent of his shots.

1. Luka Doncic (Dallas) 20.7 ppg
2. Trae Young (Atlanta) 16.9 ppg
3. Deandre Ayton (Phoenix) 16.5 ppg
4. Collin Sexton (Cleveland) 15.1 ppg
5. Jaren Jackson, Jr. (Memphis) 13.8 ppg
6. Marvin Bagley (Sacramento) 13.3 ppg
7. Kevin Knox (NY Knicks) 12.5 ppg
8. Wendell Carter (Chicago) 10.3 ppg
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LA Clippers) 10.1 ppg
10. Allonzo Trier (NY Knicks) 10.0 ppg

Doncic is the lone 20-point scorer. Ayton, Young, and Doncic are the only rookies putting up 16.5 or more a night.

Collin Sexton is one of four rookies scoring 15-plus a game. The Cavs drafted him to potentially play alongside LeBron James. But that was before LeBron bolted for the Lakers. The rookie held his own in Cleveland with 15.1 points per game.

NBA Rookies Second Half Outlook: Bagley Bubble

This is where we see which rookies are in better shape. The grind of traveling catches up to rubes in the second half of the season, especially in the last quarter of the season.

On the plus side, none of the key rookies will be in the thick of a playoff race. The Suns are the worst team in the West and the Mavericks are near the bottom. The Hawks are not good at all and don’t expect a miraculous playoff run.

Collin Sexton and the Cavs are not going anywhere soon. Only the Knicks have a worst record in the East. If anything, those rookies might see more action with their teams in full-blown tank mode. Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, and Sexton are worthy fantasy additions from the bottom feeders in the East.

Marvin Bagley and Landry Shamet are the exceptions. Bagley finds himself on the playoff bubble with the upstart Sacramento Kings (30-27). The young Kings are only one game behind the LA Clippers in the #8 spot in the Western Conference. The 19-year old Bagley could be a key figure down the stretch.

Landry, a late first-rounder from the Sixers is averaging 8.6 points off the bench. He’s the second-best three-point shooter among the rookies, hitting 41.4 percent of his treys. Will his minutes shrink in the postseason? Or will he step up? With the addition of Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler, the Sixers have one of the best lineups in the East.

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