Tonight, the Knicks and Hornets will start a combined eight (!) rookies between the two teams, including five first-round picks. These rookies have been immensely important pieces to both teams. For those arguing that the 2020 draft class might be the best, this is your dream matchup.
After spoiling their rival Celtics season debut, the virtual Knicks have a new feel to their season. Malik, the lone veteran in the starting lineup, has shot the lights out since switching to a new archetype, but it was the Knicks’ No. 2 overall pick who shined against Boston. Duck had a coming out party, averaging 32 points and 5 assists per game while outplaying league legend Fab, and eventually secured the series win for his team in game three.
While point guard may be the most important position, the center position comes next. Without a good ball handler/center duo, teams are doomed in this league. The Knicks found both parts of their duo in the first 15 selections of the 2020 draft. CantGuardRob, after a tough series against the Bucks, has been a nightmare matchup for opposing big men, stuffing the stat-sheet game after game. He most recently outmuscled Celtics big man No Autographs to the tune of 22 points, 44 rebounds, 13 assists, 6 steals, and 3 blocks in just three games.
As for their other rookies, New York would be in a much different situation without them. From game one, BigRim has been asked to lock up opposing ball-handlers, and the schedule hasn’t been easy: Bucks Gaming’s high-scoring point guard Regg, MVP candidate KennyGotWork, and aforementioned Celtics point guard Fab. Those are tough tasks to pin on a rookie, but Rim has stepped up and played well.
Last but not least, power forward EhTruth was inserted into the starting lineup in place of HazzaUK just two series into the season. Over the course of his five games, Truth is averaging 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steal, 1 block per contest. In addition, the rookie is shooting 59% (on 17 attempts) from three-point range. While the numbers aren’t eye-popping, Truth has made the most of his opportunities playing at a position where there isn’t much room to lead the way.
There wasn’t a single team that drafted better than the Hornets this past offseason, and that doesn’t even include the expansion draft, where they selected Type (maybe the best big man in the league) No. 1 overall. Equipped with three first round picks, and four selections in the top 28, BiggWest and Nacho went to work.
Snubby told us after the last game of the 2019 NBA 2K League season that it would be the last without him in the league. He wasn’t wrong. Snubby was drafted 18th overall in February, and now the Hornets find themselves as a legitimate early-season contender behind his efficient point guard play. The rookie guard is averaging 20 points and 4 assists per game on 59% shooting to begin his career.
Stealing Snubby at 18th overall already made for a good draft haul, but Charlotte wasn’t satisfied though, drafting the best (yes, I said it, the best) power forward in the league, Zae, with the very next selection. There isn’t a team in the league that has figured out how to utilize the power forward position as well as the Hornets have, but maybe that’s because other teams don’t have Zae.
As for the other Charlotte rookies: No. 6 overall pick Expose has been an excellent fit next to Snubby in the backcourt. The shooting guard is coming off a series against Wizards District Gaming, in which he averaged 20 points per game on 71% shooting. With their last selection in the 2020 draft, Hornets Venom selected lockdown Trap with the 28th overall pick. Trap, similar to tonight’s opposition, has had a gauntlet of point guard’s to defend to begin his career, including JBM, Radiant, Sherm, and Dimez.
Tonight, with eight rookies starting, all eyes are on two in particular, the matchup at point guard: Duck vs. Snubby, No. 2 overall against No. 18 overall. These two will match up against each other for the first of many times in their careers. Duck, who’s a more aggressive scorer, will carry the offensive burden for New York, while Snubby will lead a more balanced attack with the help of Type and Zae down low.
The 2020 class has lit up the league thus far; this is another spotlight in which to shine.