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Ranking NBA's Top 5 Rookie Shooting Guards Entering 2018-19

Jonathan Wasserman

Over a third of June's first round includes players who will spend time at shooting guard next season in the NBA.

But how many will get to play or make an impact right away? The NBA's 2-guard position is getting stronger and deeper, though the league will still see a handful of new contributors.

The following five rookies should be ready to produce in 2018-19 based on their tools, skill level and opportunity. They're ranked according to how they will perform next year, not their long-term potential.

5. Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves

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Josh Okogie could earn a role sooner than expected given his particular strengths and the Minnesota Timberwolves' lack of exciting options to back up Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins.

Despite averaging 18.3 points against ACC opponents, Okogie flew under the radar on a weak Georgia Tech team before turning heads at the combine. It may be his defensive versatility and athleticism over his offense that helps him crack the rotation.

Quick, long and explosive—he had a top-10 shuttle-run time, tied for the highest max vertical and measured a 7'0" wingspan—Okogie has terrific defensive tools and the potential to guard ball-handlers and wings.

He won't shoot a high percentage, as his shot selection and jump-shot consistency need work. However, Okogie will still put pressure on defenses with his open-floor attacking and shot-making, both as a spot shooter (45.3 percent) and scorer (9-of-15 isolation, 19-of-38 guarded jump shots).

Expect plenty of rookie mistakes and flashes of talent at both ends. The positives will outweigh the negatives for Okogie in 2018-19, though, particularly in a spark-plug bench role.

4. Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs

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With Kyle Anderson leaving for Memphis and Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green traded to Toronto, there could be opportunities for Lonnie Walker IV in San Antonio as a rookie.

He will enjoy the NBA's faster pace and extra spacing compared to what he saw at Miami. Walker remains a work in progress as a shot-creator, but he'll play closer to his strengths with the Spurs as a spot-up shooter, opportunistic slasher and transition weapon.

Over time, we should see his off-the-dribble game and playmaking expand. Next year, however, Walker will give the second unit a potent injection of explosive leaping and shot-making.

He's one of the top athletes in the class with a jump shot the eye test approves, even if his freshman numbers aren't as convincing.

Walker was inefficient in summer league and will likely take a few months before he becomes comfortable. But the Spurs barely earned a seventh seed in last year's playoffs, and then they lost Leonard, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Green and Anderson this offseason. Even with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, the franchise will be motivated to start developing its young prospects.

Walker's playing time and scoring output should gradually increase as he builds rhythm and confidence. He'll split time with breakout candidate Derrick White and potentially earn opportunities in a small-ball lineup alongside DeRozan at the 3 and Rudy Gay at power forward.

3. Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks

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Kevin Huerter has a chance to continue building momentum in Atlanta after surprising at the NBA combine and cracking the draft's top 20.

He will have every opportunity to play through mistakes as a rookie, particularly if management can trade Kent Bazemore. That's a move the team should be motivated to make, as he'll hold more value to a playoff contender, and the rebuilding Hawks already dealt Dennis Schroder.

With 6'7" size, Huerter possesses the handle and enough playmaking ability (3.4 assists at Maryland) to work as a 2-guard. He'll surprise with shot creation. And last season, he flashed potential as a pick-and-roll ball-handler (17-of-32 FGM-A) while converting 14-of-20 possessions out of isolation.

But Huerter's shooting will always drive his value. He shot 41.7 percent from three as a sophomore, demonstrating a convincing, effortless release and the ability to shoot off screens and dribbles with balance and fluidity. It shouldn't take long for Huerter to adjust to the NBA's arc based on his accuracy, range and stroke.

Tyler Dorsey could steal minutes earlier in the season, but it's clear who's the priority in the Hawks' backcourt. Atlanta should want Huerter and Trae Young to quickly start building chemistry during a season where there are no expectations to win games.

2. Grayson Allen, Utah Jazz

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The Utah Jazz will be looking to take that next step toward the top of the West, and they will call on Grayson Allen to help them right away with his offense off the bench.

Alec Burks could also be a trade candidate entering the final year on his contract, especially after Allen averaged 13.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists during summer league.

The Jazz will value his shot-making as a spot-up threat and shooter off screens, after he buried 273 threes over the last three seasons.

But Allen can also give the Jazz exciting athleticism and a secondary playmaker as someone who has made progress as a setup man. He ranked in the 75th percentile last year as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, and he was effective creating for teammates even when he didn't have a screen, with seven of his 12 passes out of isolation resulting in field goals.

Inconsistency has always been a problem for the soon-to-be 23-year-old (October). However, in a spark role playing with Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, Allen's hot nights will be more impactful than his off ones.

He also made a case for himself in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas during July, flashing a more well-rounded skill set that suggested he'll still have something to offer during games when his shot isn't falling.

1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

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Traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft night, Luka Doncic will start his career working as the 2-guard alongside Dennis Smith Jr. It's an ideal fit for the rookie, who will be better suited as a secondary playmaker while he adjusts to the NBA's faster speed.

Either way, Doncic should be ready from day one. We've already seen him take it to NBA pros last summer at EuroBasket, when he helped Slovenia win gold by scoring 27 points against Kristaps Porzingis and Latvia and totaling 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists against Spain's Rubio, the Hernangomez brothers and Gasols.

Doncic solidified his case as an NBA-ready prospect with Real Madrid, having won MVP of both the Spanish ACB and Euroleague.

At 6'6", 218 pounds, he possesses positional size and strength to compete physically right away. Although, it's still a mix of special ball skills, vision, basketball IQ, shot-making and toughness that distinguishes Doncic and fuels his signature versatility.

For the Mavericks, he'll operate on the ball as a pick-and-roll specialist and off the ball as a spot-up shooter, complementary scorer and ball mover.

Doncic might not get close to matching Donovan Mitchell's rookie-scoring production; however, triple-doubles are coming. The Mavericks' new franchise player will give Deandre Ayton, 2018's No. 1 pick, a run for his money in the Rookie of the Year race.

              

All advanced stats courtesy of Synergy Sports.

   
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