Unbalanced is powered by Vocal creators. You support Shandon Pendleton by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Unbalanced is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

Rating the Sophomores So Far

The 2017 draft class gave us some great players.

Second Year Laker Teammates F Kyle Kuzma and G Lonzo Ball

The 2017 draft class was awesome. We had so many great talents emerge last season and this year, we get the chance to see them get even better! I won't be talking about every player from the draft but only the notable ones. So lets evaluate how they have been so far, and what impact they have made—and no, this does not include Ben Simmons.

Markelle Fultz

Freakin' bust. Fultz had a horrendous first year. Shot just as bad as his ball-handling teammate Ben. We've heard reports from Philadelphia screwing him over, to it's all in his head and then finally to him having a nerve disorder in his shoulder which affects his shooting form. For purpose of this article, none of these factors really matter. The point is, he is not providing anything for the Sixers right now. He even made mention of wanting a new start with a different team. 

I will give the kid some credit though. In his very limited playing time, he managed to pull of a triple-double. Very impressive. We've seen flashes of his skill, but in the end, he's a liability more than he is an asset.

Whatever the reasons may be, the number-one pick is a huge bust, and I'm sorry, but I don't believe anyone that says one day he will be a superstar. 

2017-18: 7.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 40.5/0.00/47.6

2018-19: 8.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 41.9/28.6/56.8

Lonzo Ball

This man deserves so much more credit than he gets. Because of his big-mouth dad, y'all were expecting this kid to be Michael Jordan his rookie year. Sorry, but no one is gonna have a rookie year like that, no matter how good you are. It's gonna take time to develop and get better.

Despite his numbers not being as high as they were last year, Zo has improved lots. His role has been different due to many new roster changes this year, but LeBron and Rondo have been great mentors to Zo and have really helped him improve his game. His height gives a great advantage over other players at his position too.

Another thing that I have noticed is Zo's defense. His defense has been outstanding so far. I've even heard some consider him for DPOY. Now I don't know about that... but he definitely an elite defender at his position, and is making it a nightmare for players being guarded by him.

Only problems I have with Zo is that his shooting is still not the greatest. While he has improved lots since last year, it's still not that great. I don't worry too much about that however, because compared to last year, he has made huge strides, and with more practice, he'll be fine. The other concern I have is that sometimes Zo can be a little too unselfish. To the point where he has a wide open layup and decided to pass, resulting in a turnover. He needs to be smarter with these. It's great to be a team player but sometimes he just needs to take that shot.

Zo is a keeper.

2017-18: 10.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 36.0/30.5/45.1

2018-19: 9.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 40.7/32.3/54.8

Jayson Tatum

To be quite honest, I'm a little disappointed in Jayson Tatum. This is not the playoff-Tatum that we saw last post-season. I think the reason why so many of us are disappointed is that we expected playoff-Tatum. Tatum increased his point production by almost five in the post-season and was beyond clutch. Now regular season is back along with a healthy Kyrie Irving and Tatum has slumped back to his regular self. Another concern though, is his three-pt shooting has slumped BIG...

Besides that point though, Tatum is still a great pickup for the Celtics. He has got a silky smooth jumper and can attack the rim well. He's got good length which helps him out lots. The kid has got lots and lots of potential and has been compared to Paul Pierce for the Celtics. And honestly, I can see that happening.

However, the Celtics don't look as hot as they were. Beginning of the year, they were the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, but as of right now, it looks like it's gonna be a battle. Tatum needs to step up and show that playoff-Tatum can be all-the-time-Tatum.

2017-18: 13.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 47.5/43.4/82.6

2018-19: 16.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 45.4/38.2/84.5

Josh Jackson

Honestly, I don't have too much to say about Jackson. The biggest thing I've noticed from him is his haircut. Other than that, he's just a bench player. His point production has decreased and so has his efficiency. I guess with a new coach, he just isn't as much of a fit as he was in the old system.

Jackson can attack the rim well but looking at his percentages, his shooting needs some improvement. It can be a little tough to compete with Devin Booker, but the Suns really need this young guy. He has good potential, he just needs to step up.

2017-18: 13.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 41.7/26.3/63.4

2018-19: 8.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 38.6/28.9/63.3

De'Aaron Fox

Wow this kid is a STUD. He has shined his sophomore year and I expect him to get better and better. The Kings have shown up everyone in the league and currently have a winning record along with a strong bout for the playoffs. And Fox is a huge reason for that. 

He seems much more confident than last year and has been shooting fantastic. I am very impressed with this kid, especially his speed too. Russell Westbrook? De'Aaron Fox? Whose faster? I don't care, but I do care that his speed has given him a huge advantage at attacking the lane and getting points for his team. Points that contribute to wins.

His points have been up dramatically and so has his assists. People have been considering him for Most Improved Player, and honestly, he makes a strong case for it. Especially if the Kings make the playoffs.

I do wanna say however, those boots that he wears and ugly... Stick with Kobe Elite 9's and get rid of those Jordan boots you wear buddy.

2017-18: 11.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 41.2/30.7/72.3

2018-19: 18.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 46.8/39.3/72.2

Lauri Markkanen

I don't wanna say too much about Lauri because his sophomore year started with lots of injury so he hasn't had too much time to show off. 

However, the kid can shoot the ball and was the fastest player to reach 100 three's made. And he is a steal for the Bulls. The Bulls aren't a very hot team though, and they've gotten worse since Lauri came back from injury. Now I'm not blaming him for anything, but I'm looking at the coaching. With talent like Lauri, you gotta be able to utilize him in the right way to find success.

2017-18: 15.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 43.4/36.2/84.3

2018-19: 17.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 42.3/37.9/81.3

Frank Ntilikina

I feel bad for young Frank. I was hoping he would have a breakout season this year and earn the starting spot for the Knicks. He just hasn't been given much opportunity however...

The kid's not an offensive threat, as proven by his shooting numbers, but then again, neither was Rajon Rondo... given time to develop, he can be valuable.

Last season, we saw that he was a fantastic perimeter defender and reminded me a lot of Dejounte Murray. But now, he just isn't moving forward. His stats are similar to last year and he hasn't improved. There have been trade rumors surrounding him too. I think that if a team can find a way to use him at his best, there defensive ratings will improve and so will Frank's confidence.

2017-18: 5.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 36.4/31.8/72.1

2018-19: 6.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 34.7/29.5/80.8

Dennis Smith Jr.

When I think of DSJ, I think back at two moments from last year. First is when he trash talked Kyrie Irving and ended up getting schooled the next play. The second is when he did that high bounce alley-oop to himself in crunch time. Cocky when he hasn't proven himself yet and thinks he is better than he really is. First off, don't trash talk Kyrie. Kyrie is the best ball-handler in the league and he WILL show you up. Don't give him a reason to. Second, those dunks are HARD. Those are the dunks that you do not take when the game is close with little time remaining. If I were coach, I would be livid at him attempting something like that near the end of a close game.

Okay, with that aside, DSJ is a good player. He can score and the kid has got some bounce. He was a great rookie for the Mavericks last year and it seemed like he would be the new guy to facilitate their offense. All of that changed with Luka Doncic. 

Now, DSJ is a back-option for scoring and trade rumors of him are around. Luka Doncic is just better—at everything. DSJ is a good player, which makes it suck even worse, but he doesn't hold as much value to Dallas as he did last year. Luka is Dallas' future, so I don't know where DSJ will be part of it or not.

I'm also concerned that, as a guard, DSJ's shooting is poor. He is becoming inefficient and in the NBA today, you need to be able to shoot the ball efficiently. I'm glad that he has improved lots since last year, but he still has work to do.

2017-18: 15.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 39.5/31.3/69.4

2018-19: 13.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 44.1/36.1/67.8

Donovan Mitchell

I love Donovan Mitchell. The kid is a stud and can throw down, but the if I were to describe his sophomore year with one word, it would be inefficient. 

His stats are almost identical to last year, except for the fact that the kid jacks up too many shots. His shooting percentages aren't the greatest and he's been racking up the turnovers. Part of the reason I think, is that so much is expected of Mitchell. After a sensational and surprising rookie year, many teams are now ready for Mitchell, which makes his job tougher.

Aside from that though, he is very crafty and finds creative ways to score. When he attacks the rim, you don't know what he's gonna do. He can be streaking with his three-point shooting but I've noticed that when he turns to midrange jumpers, he can be deadly and that is boosted when he gets in the right mode of attack.

Utah isn't the same as they were last year, but I expect Spida to turn it up the second half of the season and do great. And I expect Utah to improve a lot and make the playoffs.

2017-18: 20.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 43.7/34.0/80.5

2018-19: 20.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 41.0/29.2/78.5

Kyle Kuzma

I like Kuz's game. He has been a great add for the Lakers and with LeBron here, he is just gonna gain more and more experience. He can shoot and attack well. His defense may have some flaws but I see that being fixed with time.

Other than that, I don't have much to say about Kuz. His future looks bright and I see him eventually becoming a star. One factor for that is that I don't think Brandon Ingram is a fit for LA anymore, and eventually, he will have to be moved. That will give Kuz much more opportunity to shine.

2017-18: 16.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 45.0/36.6/70.7

2018-19: 18.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 48.0/30.0/76.9

Josh Hart

The third of the young Laker sophomores. Josh Hart really proved himself in summer league that he deserved a spot on this team. With so many players joining LA-Bron, lots of players were dropped from the roster. LA gave him a chance and he has proven that he is worth it. 

While I don't see Hart becoming a star, I see him staying as a very valuable role player for the Lakers.

2017-18: 7.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 46.9/39.6/70.2

2018-19: 9.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 43.5/38.7/67.4

Jarrett Allen

I like this kid. His fro puts him on notice, but so does his play. I haven't had much opportunity to watch him, but he has helped Brooklyn get better, that's for sure. 

He's a great big man that's for sure, and with time and development, I can honestly see an All-Star out of him.

2017-18: 8.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 58.9/33.3/77.6

2018-19: 11.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.4 BPG, 58.0/16.7/72.9

John Collins

The last player I wanna mention is John Collins. This kid is great. I don't think he gets enough recognition due to being on the Hawks, but he has improved immensely.

His point turnout is about eight points more than last year and he is making a great impact for this young Atlanta team. Give him some time and John Collins and Trae Young will be a deadly duo.

2017-18: 10.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 57.6/34.0/71.5

2018-19: 18.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 58.5/24.4/68.7

Other Notable Picks

Other notable picks that have shown improvement I want to briefly mention are OG Anunoby, Terrance Ferguson, Jordan Bell, Dillon Brooks and Derrick White. These guys have made great impacts on their team and with time, I can see some of them being great players.

Now Reading
Rating the Sophomores So Far
Read Next
Rocky vs. Creed