Three out of four of those teams have highly impactful rookies, with Cleveland being the only exception. While Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, and others were big names to watch coming into the year, none of them made it to the postseason. However, there has been other first year players that have influenced these 2017 playoffs so far.
Malcolm Brogdon — Milwaukee Bucks (No. 36 pick): Brogdon, the likely Rookie of the Year out of Virginia, was pretty successful in the playoffs, as well as the regular season.
Unfortunately for he and his teammates, the Bucks were ousted by the Raptors 4-2 in the Round 1. However, in those six games, Brogdon averaged 9.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, both of which were second among rookies in the First Round. Brogdon, who started for much of the year, will continue to be an integral part of the Bucks’ return to relevancy and has a ton of momentum heading into his sophomore year.
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) April 25, 2017
Taurean Prince — Atlanta Hawks (No. 12 pick): Prince had a subpar rookie campaign during the 82-game regular season, but once the postseason came, his playing time increased and so did his productivity. In the First Round against the Wizards, the Baylor product put up a rookie-high 11.2 points and 5.3 boards per game.
It would have been interesting to see if his play could have continued improving against the Celtics, but the Hawks were eliminated by John Wall and Co. Going forward though, Prince will be a player to keep an eye on because of his length and ability to defend and score from the perimeter.
Dejounte Murray — San Antonio Spurs (No. 29 pick): Murray wasn’t expected to see a lot of court time in the playoffs because he was behind veterans Tony Parker and Patty Mills on the depth chart. But, following Parker’s season-ending injury against the Rockets, Murray was shoved into the spotlight. And to his credit, he’s done a pretty good job or filling in for the former Finals MVP.
He’s only scoring at a 5.2 points per game clip, but his maturity and lack of turnovers has stuck out the most. Murray’s also adding about 1.9 assists a night, and has helped the Spurs go 8-5 in the first few rounds. Next season and beyond, depending on if Parker retires or not, Murray could be a big part of the Spurs backcourt, and these playoffs have been a nice audition for him.
Jaylen Brown — Boston Celtics (No. 3 pick): Brown is my favorite rookie. He’s extremely talented, and is the highest draft pick remaining, as he was taken No. 3 in the 2016 NBA Draft. Now, he’s playing a factor for Boston in the playoffs and will be one of the many players tasked with the (impossible) challenge of defending Lebron James in the Conference Finals.
So far in the postseason, he’s averaged 6.2 points and 2.4 rebounds, over 13 games, eight of them being Celtics victories. Out of these five players, I’d say he has the brightest future and is the most likely to become an All-Star. Brown will definitely be a player to watch out for as he matures and expands his outside game.
Jaylen Brown is impressive. pic.twitter.com/JcvgZzhF9C
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) May 16, 2017
Patrick McCaw — Golden State Warriors (No. 38 pick): McCaw hasn’t played in every game in the playoffs because of Golden State’s influx of talent, but when his number has been called upon, he’s performed surprisingly well.
His statistics don’t jump off the page, as the former UNLV guard is putting up just 3.3 points and 1.7 assists per game, but he was a big reason for the Warriors sweeping the Trailblazers in Round 1, and continuing their win streak that has now reached 10 games.
However, I don’t really see McCaw being a key piece on this team in the next few years, because Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant will make it difficult to see important playing time for the rook. If McCaw can find a better situation, where he’ll be able to further his skills and play simultaneously, he may become a legitimate sixth man in this league.
Photo Credit: The Boston Globe.