The NBA Season is almost at all-star break, and we have seen many great performances from the NBA’s next wave of stars. The NBA honors the best rookies by recognizing them with the NBA 1st team distinction. These players have been the best and brightest at their position, and they will likely be honored with the 1st team selections. Honorable mention to Kristaps Porzingis.
PG – Emmanuel Mudiay – Denver Nuggets
Emmanuel Mudiay hasn’t been the most efficient player for the Denver Nuggets, but he has definitely been the best point guard in this 2015 NBA Draft Class. Mudiay has been very inefficient, but he is still producing. Mudiay is averaging 11.4 points, 5.7 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in just under 30 minutes per game.
Mudiay has led the Nuggets in some big games. These games include a 22 point and 5 assist performance in a 5 point win over the Chicago Bulls, 20 point, 4 assists, and 4 rebound game in a 4 point win against the Washington Wizards, and perhaps most of all, Mudiay was the point guard for a win against the 45-4 Golden State Warriors. For Mudiay, it is about making these great performances consistent.
SG – D’Angelo Russell – Los Angeles Lakers
D’Angelo Russell did some amazing things for the Ohio State Buckeyes as a freshman in 2014-2015. Now he is showing some great flashes of becoming the next great young guard in the NBA this season. Russell is averaging 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals in 26.9 minutes per game. His efficiency isn’t as bad as Mudiay’s, but it can be improved at the 41.7% mark that it is currently at. Russell is shooting 47.8% on two pointers, however, which shows that he is struggling more in shot selection than actual shooting in the areas which he excels.
Russell has had a number of great games this season. Russell had 27 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals in just 28 minutes and 68.8% from the field against Sacramento, and 19 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals on 53.8% shooting in a convincing 18 point win over the Milwaukee Bucks among other games. Russell has averaged 18.3 points on 54.9% shooting in 31.0 minutes per game when on games with 3 or more days of rest, showing the flashes of dominance that got Russell drafted 2nd overall last June.
SF – Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker is not only the youngest player in the NBA, but he is one of the best shooters. Booker has been inserted into the starting line-up for the Phoenix Suns with the injury to Eric Bledsoe, and he has performed well. Booker is averaging 10.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game on 45.8% from the field, and 41.7% from three. As a starter, Booker is averaging 15.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, and he has gotten better every month.
Booker is the only rookie to have a 32 point game, which he had against a decent Indiana Pacers team while shooting 56.3% from the field, and went a blistering 6/11 from three. Though its early, Booker has been unbelievable in Feburary, averaging 20.7 points and 41.7% three point shooting through three games. The Suns aren’t winning many games this season, but they got a player who will help them win many in the future with Booker.
PF – Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns has not only been the best power forward in this draft, but he has been the best players in this draft and one of the best players in the NBA this season. His averages of 16.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in just 30.0 minutes per game this season on 54.0% shooting are excellent. Only four players have had 16 points, 10 rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game, and a 22 PER in their rookie season: David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, and Towns. Towns is simply playing on a historic level.
Towns has had 28 double-doubles this season in 52 games. He has had some amazing performances, including a 27 point, 17 rebound, and 6 blocks game against Dallas, 32 points and 12 rebounds on 13/17 shooting against Utah, and many other great games. Towns has been amazing this year, and while the Timberwolves have been held back by the fact that their players are either teenagers or late 30 year olds that, but Towns will lead them to the playoffs soon enough.
C – Jahlil Okafor – Philadelphia 76ers
Okafor has also been great this season, not quite to the historic level of Towns, but Okafor’s 17. 0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game are very impressive. Okafor is one of six players to be averaging those point and rebound numbers and shoot the 49.3% he is. The other five are Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Brook Lopez, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond, all of whom are all-stars besides Lopez, who has been an all-star in the past. All of those players also average at least 3.4 more minutes then Okafor.
Some of Okafor’s best games include a 22 point and 17 rebound performance against Brooklyn, a 21 point and 15 rebound game against the Chicago Bulls, and a 25 point and 12 rebound game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Okafor has been great this season, and hopefully he can help lead the 76ers to the playoffs next season when they get more talent.