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Kia Rookie Ladder: Lay of land in chase leads to Doncic’s drop



For now, Young keeps the top spot, based mostly on Doncic’s most recent two games — which saw him go 10-for-34 from the field (2-for-13 on 3-pointers). Doncic, who remains the frontrunner for ROY based off the season on a whole, had one of his worst games of the season Tuesday, scoring 12 points while committing nine turnovers (the second time in the last three weeks he’s had that many) in a 112-105 loss to the Spurs.

Young had struggles of his own, but he picked up his first triple-double and led the Hawks to two wins to barely — just barely — hold off Doncic. 

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1. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks


Trae Young logged his first NBA triple-double in a loss to the Nets last week.

Last week:  No. 1

Young had the first triple-double by a rookie in Hawks history Saturday, which was one of the highlights of his week. But to be fair to what I said above about Doncic’s clunker, Young also had a dud of a game this week, going 2-for-14 from the field (0-for-4 on 3-pointers) against the New Orleans Pelicans. However, Young also had 10 assists (five in the fourth quarter) and helped facilitate a 128-116 win when his shot wasn’t falling (he missed his first nine attempts). Coach Lloyd Pierce was impressed by Young’s ability to handle the rough shooting night. ”He came in the fourth quarter and played 12 straight minutes and shifted to just a playmaker,” Pierce said. ”I think it’s a sign of maturity. I think he’s going to have those games from time to time and understand he can still impact a game.”

2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks


Luka Doncic reflects on his rise to stardom in his first season in the NBA.

Last week:  No. 2

To Doncic’s credit, the rookie wasn’t even sure he’d play in the embarrassing loss to the Spurs, in which he went 1-for-9 from the free throw line. “Just in my head, I’m thinking I’m going to miss it. I’ve just got to work on that. I’ve got to think I’m going to make every shot.” Doncic had suffered a knee strain against the Rockets, but fought through the injury, which is admirable considering the Mavs’ position in the standings. “Honestly I wasn’t 100 percent, but I want to play. I want to play always. Even though we’re not playing for that much right now I just want to play every game.” You’ve got to love the attitude.

3. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers


The Cavs upset the Raptors behind a monster game from Collin Sexton.

Last week:  Not ranked

Sexton has had his ups and downs this season, but he said this week “the game is starting to slow down a little bit.” And it shows. In three games this week, the point guard averaged 27 points on 58.2 percent shooting, hitting 57.9 percent of his 3-pointers. Sexton was huge in the Cavs’ surprise win vs. Toronto, scoring 28 points with four rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers. He was 10-for-18 from the field, and afterward coach Larry Drew said it might have been his best game of the season. “I really thought tonight was probably as complete of a game as I’ve seen Collin play in regards to him scoring, getting us into an offense and his decision-making. … He played a terrific all-around game.” A night later, he nearly willed the Cavs to a win in Philly, scoring 26 points on 11-for-20 shooting. It’s clear he’s becoming more confident running the team and finding his scoring spots.

4. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns


DeAndre Ayton comes up with a block against the Jazz on Wednesday.

Last week:  No. 3

Ayton was crucial to the Suns’ surprising upset of the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the 115-111 win. But Wednesday’s loss to the Utah Jazz was a different story. Going against Rudy Gobert, Ayton finished with two points on 1-for-9 shooting in 32 ineffective minutes. Ayton didn’t hold back on his performance. “Overall, I give myself an F-minus,” Ayton told reporters. “This was a bad game. I definitely put this loss on me. I just wasn’t locked in. I don’t know what’s happening. The shots I took were pretty bad. This is definitely the worst game I’ve ever played.”


5. Landry Shamet, LA Clippers

Landry Shamet has made 46.9 percent of his 3-pointers with the Clippers.

Last week:  No. 4

Shamet is going to play a big role in the Clippers’ run toward the playoffs. He’s getting 28.5 minutes per game in L.A. (he got 20.5 mpg with the Sixers), averaging 12.1 points on 44.1 percent shooting. He’s knocking down 46.9 percent of his 3-pointers with the Clippers, easily leading rookies in 3-point shooting on the season. If you haven’t seen a Clippers game yet, Shamet is worth checking out. His ability to come off screens and get his shot off quickly is a thing of beauty. 

Just missed the cut: 

Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks
Brunson has scored in double figures in five straight and had his best game in the Mavs’ loss to the Spurs. The second-round pick scored 34 points and averaged 23.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 5.7 apg while shooting 65 percent overall (and 41.7 percent on 3-pointers) this week. “He’s probably grown more than any player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “If you go back to the Summer League in July, if you’d seen him play then and you saw him play tonight, you’d say ‘Wow.’ “

Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks
The young sharpshooter scored 27 in the Hawks’ 128-116 win over the Pelicans on Sunday, going 11-for-18 from the field (4-for-7 on 3-pointers). On a night Young struggled to find his shot, Huerter was needed and the Hawks kept looking for their other rookie. ”My teammates started finding me,” Huerter said. ”They started running plays for me almost every possession down the court.” Huerter followed that up with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists in Wednesday’s win against Memphis.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers
Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 12 ppg in three games and was his consistent self from the field, shooting 52 percent overall (and 3-for-4 on 3-pointers). He helped L.A. get wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics before seeing their five-game win streak end Tuesday against Portland. The Clippers are winning while starting two rookies, so if watching rookies is your thing, they might be worth adopting down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Frank Jackson, New Orleans Pelicans
Jackson has been mentioned in this space a few times this season, but he’s really blossomed over the last few weeks. He’s scored in double digits in six of his last eight games and averaged 19 ppg and 46.4 percent shooting in his last three games while filling in for Jrue Holiday. “I think with him, it’s all about confidence,” coach Alvin Gentry said of Jackson’s improvement. “I think the more he plays, the more confidence he gets. The big thing for me is that he’s not duplicating mistakes. You tell him something and then he takes that out of his game and tries to take a step forward. That’s the big thing.”

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(All stats through Wednesday, March 13)

Send any questions or comments to my email or find me on Twitter @drewpackham.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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Summer Standouts, Championship Game |



A look at top performers from the Summer League Tournament Finals, on Day 11 of the action in Las Vegas and Day 14 of the overall competition:


Brandon Clarke, Championship Game MVP
After being awarded the overall Summer League MVP earlier Monday, No. 21 overall pick Clarke capped a breakout performance with a Championship Game MVP, posting 15 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 24 minutes. Playing as a smallball center, the 6-foot-7 Clarke dominated yet again on both ends, and looks to be a steal after coming over in a draft night trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.


The Grizzlies raised the 2019 Summer League Tournament trophy.

Grayson Allen
After arriving from Utah in the trade that shipped Mike Conley Jr. to the Jazz, the 2018 No. 21 overall pick has continued to get under opponents’ skin — notably earning a double-flagrant ejection earlier in the week — and put up a team-high 17 points (6-13 FGs) and five assists. 

Bruno Cabocolo
Famously described as “two years away from being two years away” upon being drafted in 2014, Cabocolo caught on last season with the Grizzlies toward the end of last season and built on the performance throughout his time in Vegas. Still only 23, the 6-foot-9 Cabocolo dropped 15 points (3-8 3Ps), four rebounds and two blocks against Minnesota.

Dusty Hannahs
The second-year guard spent much of last season with the Memphis Hustle before earning late-season run with the senior squad. On Monday, Hannahs again showed off a sharp shooting touch, knocking down 3-of-4 shots from deep while scoring 15 points off the bench.

* * *



Kelan Martin
A sparkplug scorer for the Timberwolves throughout their Tournament run, Martin keyed a Minnesota comeback with a 16-point second half. He finished with a game-high 19 points and five rebounds off the bench, shooting 3-of-7 from 3-point range and 6-of-14 overall.

Barry Brown Jr.
Undrafted after four years at Kansas State, the 6-foot-3 guard performed well off the bench, finishing with a stunning,. game-high plus-20 mark in just 21 minutes. He finished with 12 points (5-7 FGs), three rebounds and an assist.


Barry Brown Jr. split the D for a slick reverse.


Keita Bates-Diop
Bates-Diop, drafted No. 48 overall in 2018, proved a consistent performer for the Timberwolves in Las Vegas, and hit several clutch shots along the way. Monday night, his fourth-quarter 3-pointer capped a 9-0 run that brought Minnesota within a point 24.8 seconds from the finish.


Bates-Diop put a scare in the Grizzlies late in the game.

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Game Recap: Grizzlies 95, Timberwolves 92



Zak Hanshew, RotoWire

LAS VEGAS — Brandon Clarke totaled 15 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 95-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Las Vegas Summer League championship game Monday night.

Memphis jumped out to a hot start behind five early three-pointers to take a 31-19 lead after the first quarter and a 56-40 halftime advantage. Minnesota stormed back with a 30-point third quarter to chip away at the lead and keep the game close all the way to the final buzzer.

Down 93-83 with just under two minutes to play, Minnesota put together a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 93-92 before a pair of clutch free throws from Keenan Evans with 10.4 seconds to play gave the Grizzlies a three-point advantage they would not relinquish. The Timberwolves had a shot to tie the game late, but they missed a three-point attempt with just seconds left on the clock and failed to inbound the ball cleanly as time expired. 

Clarke, a first-round pick out of Gonzaga, led all players in rebounding and finished his summer league campaign as MVP of both the Las Vegas Summer League and the championship game. Bruno Caboclo and Dusty Hannahs scored 15 points apiece, with Hannahs chipping in three triples for Memphis (6-1). Tyler Harvey finished with 12 points, while Evans added eight points and eight assists.

Kelan Martin paced Minnesota (6-1) with a game-high 19 points off the bench, including 16 in the second half. Jordan Murphy added 14 points and eight rebounds, Mitchell Creek finished with 13 points, Barry Brown Jr totaled 12 and Keita Bates-Diop finished with 10, as five Timberwolves scored in double figures. Undrafted rookie and summer league standout Naz Reid went for eight points on 3-of-13 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and two assists.

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Grizzlies’ Clarke headlines 2019 Summer League team



MVP Brandon Clarke of the Memphis Grizzlies headlines this year’s 2019 Summer League team, which was announced Monday by the NBA. 

Clarke averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in five appearances heading into Monday’s title game with the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Other standout performers on this year’s team include Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (16.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg), New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (24.3 ppg, 6.0 apg, 2.8 spg) and New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (13.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.4 bpg). 


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