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Thread: Rookie Season Expectations

  1. #1

    Rookie Season Expectations

    I was thinking a little bit about what kind of expectations we have for our rookies, coming into the league. There's been a little bit of discussion in a few threads about what kind of numbers we might expect Zion to average, and the number of minutes Hayes might get, so I figured I might as well make a thread where we can discuss that kind of thing with a little more focus.

    For me, I have two different sets of expectations for Zion. The first is my realistic expectation, and the second is what I think is plausible (and hope for). They're a little different.

    Expectations of Zion (realistic): 17/8/3, with around 1 steal and 1.5 blocks per game. 50-55% from the floor.
    Expectations of Zion (hopeful): 22/10/4, around 1.5 steals and 2 blocks per game. 55%+ from the floor.

    Given those expectations, I thought I'd do a little checking to see how those numbers compare historically. According to basketball reference, if Zion averages the ''Realistic'' numbers in his rookie year, he would become only the second rookie in the modern era to do so. The other was Chris Webber, who averaged 17.5/9.1/3.6/1.2/2.2 on 55% from the floor as a rookie.

    Needless to say, with that information it becomes clear that if he were to meet the ''Hopeful'' expectations, he would be the first rookie in the modern era to hit those numbers. Which makes it even more absurd to me that watching him play, I could see it happening: sometimes it takes a little historical context to see how legitimately incredible Zion's talent could be in the NBA.

    If you remove the ''modern era'' restriction, and just open up the floor to all of NBA history with those same limits, the number of players who meet 22/10/4 expands to include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, and Sidney Wicks. Of those names, only Kareem did it on more than 50% shooting from the floor (he also did it averaging 28/15/4, and Baylor did it averaging 24/15/4, for comparison).

    And yet somehow, even knowing that, the possibility of 22/10/4 seems somehow like it could happen. It's not likely: that's why I have it as the hopeful, but even those ''realistic'' numbers are historically good. Opening the 17/8/3 statline up historically (omitting the steals/blocks requirement) creates a list that includes only 14 names, which contains the four guys listed above alongside Larry Bird, Bob Pettit, Larry Johnson, and Antoine Walker. This is not a bad list on which to find yourself.

    So what do you guys think? What's realistic to expect from Zion in his rookie season, and then what do you hope for in the best case scenario?
    Paying attention to the next draft too early.

    Tyrese Maxey/Isaac Okoro/Oscar Tshiebwe endorser.

  2. #2
    I mean it all depends on his usage. Let's look at last year's #1, Ayton: 16.3/10.3/1.8. And he shot 58.5%(!).

    Zion isn't likely to be shooting a lot of threes(like Ayton didn't as well) his first year, so I think a fg% of 55+ is to be expected shooting mostly 2s. if not that's not going to be very efficient.

    Zion is obviously a better passer and playmaker as a creator from the top of the key than Ayton, so he should have more assists.

    8 rebounds though for a player who will get as many minutes as zion will and when you look at the makeup of the team is a low number...he's going to beat 8 rebounds. I'd say a more typical rebounding expectation is 10.

    I think 20/10/3.7 with 55% fg is about what I would set it as an expectation. The key question though is how impactful will he be. For most of the year Ayton didn't feel like he was impacting games. Zion is obviously a much different player and his usage is expected to be higher and he be much more of a creator. I expect him to be a lot better than Ayton. And certainly a lot better than bagley.

    What I want to see him doing is just working to get that jumper and 3 pt shot into shape. He may not even be taking any in the league next year because almost all his 3's in college were the open space and right at the line type. Right now it's not a jumper that looks anything close to nba three point ready(even in the corners). But hopefully he will be working on that outside game time. Because that's obviously the key to unlocking something much more.

    I expect him to be very very good, and I hope we are playoff bound next year with him as our best player.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by tacosman View Post
    I mean it all depends on his usage. Let's look at last year's #1, Ayton: 16.3/10.3/1.8. And he shot 58.5%(!).

    Zion isn't likely to be shooting a lot of threes(like Ayton didn't as well) his first year, so I think a fg% of 55+ is to be expected shooting mostly 2s. if not that's not going to be very efficient.

    Zion is obviously a better passer and playmaker as a creator from the top of the key than Ayton, so he should have more assists.

    8 rebounds though for a player who will get as many minutes as zion will and when you look at the makeup of the team is a low number...he's going to beat 8 rebounds. I'd say a more typical rebounding expectation is 10.

    I think 20/10/3.7 with 55% fg is about what I would set it as an expectation. The key question though is how impactful will he be. For most of the year Ayton didn't feel like he was impacting games. Zion is obviously a much different player and his usage is expected to be higher and he be much more of a creator. I expect him to be a lot better than Ayton. And certainly a lot better than bagley.

    What I want to see him doing is just working to get that jumper and 3 pt shot into shape. He may not even be taking any in the league next year because almost all his 3's in college were the open space and right at the line type. Right now it's not a jumper that looks anything close to nba three point ready(even in the corners). But hopefully he will be working on that outside game time. Because that's obviously the key to unlocking something much more.

    I expect him to be very very good, and I hope we are playoff bound next year with him as our best player.
    Obviously the minutes are a big question, I totally agree. A lot of stars are playing fewer and fewer minutes, and sometimes fewer games, these days than they used to. Will Zion be playing 30 minutes, or 36? Because the difference in his stats will be pretty noticeable depending on which.

    I get why you say that 20/10/3.7 with 55%fg is an expectation, but I also think you have to just consider how incredible that statline is.

    Do you know how many rookies have averaged at least 20/10/3.7 on 55% from the floor? The answer is literally none. Not since the start of the shot clock era in 1954-55, anyway. So while I understand what you're saying, I think it's pretty harsh to set your expectations at ''literally setting records for a rookie season''.

    At the same time, I think it's kind of a bad comparison to line him up with Ayton, because one of Ayton's biggest issues is that he is very, very bad defensively and has a hard time reading and reacting to offenses. His feel for the game isn't that great. Zion's defensive ability and his feel for opposing offenses is much better, so he's going to put out a lot more energy on defense than Ayton did, and that will probably impact his offensive production at least a little bit.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelicanidae View Post
    Obviously the minutes are a big question, I totally agree. A lot of stars are playing fewer and fewer minutes, and sometimes fewer games, these days than they used to. Will Zion be playing 30 minutes, or 36? Because the difference in his stats will be pretty noticeable depending on which.

    I get why you say that 20/10/3.7 with 55%fg is an expectation, but I also think you have to just consider how incredible that statline is.

    Do you know how many rookies have averaged at least 20/10/3.7 on 55% from the floor? The answer is literally none. Not since the start of the shot clock era in 1954-55, anyway. So while I understand what you're saying, I think it's pretty harsh to set your expectations at ''literally setting records for a rookie season''.

    At the same time, I think it's kind of a bad comparison to line him up with Ayton, because one of Ayton's biggest issues is that he is very, very bad defensively and has a hard time reading and reacting to offenses. His feel for the game isn't that great. Zion's defensive ability and his feel for opposing offenses is much better, so he's going to put out a lot more energy on defense than Ayton did, and that will probably impact his offensive production at least a little bit.
    yes but if you tweak any of those a bit(buy and sell a little), you could find a lot. At least with the three slashes. And yes he didn't shoot nearly that % but he took over 7 3 pters per game(!).

    I mean look at someone last year- Doncic. He had(relative to mine) +1.2 pts, -2.2 rebounds, and +2.3 assists. Certainly you trade 2.3 assists for 2.2 rebounds any day of week, so just going by the triple crown stats of basketball he beat it. Adding fg% for a player who will shoot almost exclusively 2's next year is a bit tricky. And yes he didn't shoot nearly that % but he took over 7 3 pters per game(!).

    Anytime you have 4 different stats and use a firm cutoff point for each, there aren't going to be many people who reach it.

    I guess one fairly close comp(zion is so unique it is hard to find any close comps) to zion in terms of how he will be used and his game when he comes into the nba is Blake griffin. And blake put up 22.5/12.1/3.8 on 50.6%. And isn't shooting percentage up a bit since then across the league? Seems like most all the guys working around the rim now are in the mid 50s on two pt shots. The truly outstanding(Giannis) are on another level in terms of 2 pt efficiency of course.

    I just don't see why Zion shouldn't be somewhere on par with Blake Griffin. I expect him to be very very good next year for a rookie; he's a damn special player after all.

    But specifically regarding the rebounding and assists- I definitely expect him to be used as a playmaker/distributor and asked to start offense this way out of sets. He is going to have the ball in his hands a lot on p&r for example, and that's going to be tons of assist opportunities. He's just going to have the ball in his hands as a playmaker period, and there aren't a lot of players who will have his usage rate who *don't* average 3.7 assists I would bet.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by tacosman View Post

    Anytime you have 4 different stats and use a firm cutoff point for each, there aren't going to be many people who reach it.
    Sure, but if you check the original post you'll see that I also found that only one other player in the shotclock era had achieved the ''realistic'' numbers too (Webber), and those were much lower than the originals. So while it's true if you introduce hard cut-off points, some people miss out, but I showed that even if you reduce the threshold by basically 7.5% in scoring, and 25+% in both rebounds and assists, there's still a paucity of players who reach that limit. Sure, if you reduce it even further, then maybe another few names sneak in but by that point you're asking for 15/6/2, which isn't a particularly great statline.

    Quote Originally Posted by tacosman View Post
    I just don't see why Zion shouldn't be somewhere on par with Blake Griffin. I expect him to be very very good next year for a rookie; he's a damn special player after all.
    I think part of the difference between Blake and Zion is defense. Blake has become a better defender over his career, but he's still not great and definitely wasn't as a rookie. Zion is going to walk into the league a top 20 defender. The energy he puts out on that side of the floor is going to impact his offensive stats, almost certainly.

    At the same time, as a rookie Blake walked into a team at the age of 21. Zion is going to be 19. Of course, Zion is physically developed beyond his years so the impact that age difference will have might be pretty small, but it's fair to say that Blake (who had already spent a year in the NBA at that point, even if not playing) had an advantage in terms of both age, and experience at the next level before playing any actual games.

    Blake also got 38+ minutes a game as a rookie. Will Zion be given that many minutes in today's NBA, with load management being such a thing? Of course, he is a rookie so maybe Gentry won't care so much about load management and Gentry himself generally plays guys heavy minutes, but 38? I feel like 33 or 34 is more realistic, which will obviously reduce his stats somewhat.

    Quote Originally Posted by tacosman View Post
    I just don't see why Zion shouldn't be somewhere on par with Blake Griffin. I expect him to be very very good next year for a rookie; he's a damn special player after all.
    He is special. Even those ''realistic'' numbers I gave are unmatched aside from Chris Webber, who was a monster before injuries ruined his career.

    I do think Zion could go crazy and put up something like 22/12/4, which would be an all-time rookie season. I could definitely see it happening. I know this sounds crazy, but I believe in his talent so much that if everything goes right, I could easily see him averaging 22/12/4 as a rookie, making the all-star team, and possibly being all-defense in his first year. That's obviously a stretch but his talent just makes it seem possible.

    But I don't think we should expect that. You're almost begging for disappointment if you expect it.

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