Rookie Galore: Which Rookies Will Shine in the Second Half of the 2023-24 Season?

Rookies Will Shine in the Second Half of the 2023-24 Season image

📖 Published on: February 15th, 2024

✍️ Updated: February 23rd, 2024

⏳ 10 mins read

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Expectations and wild promises have always eluded rookies in the NBA from performing at the top of their potential in their first season. So far, many rookies have managed to come up with impressive stretches in this campaign, but none have matched the way the top rooks have shown up and led their respective teams to victory with their top-notch performances.

 

However, as tiring as the 82-game NBA season can be, it does seem that there can be a lot of factors that can affect a rookie’s performance – with fatigue as one of the bigger concerns. The wear and tear of the season will get through them, but rookies are adapting, finding ways to win and deliver fantastic performances when their team needs them most.

 

What Makes the 2023 Rookie Class so Special?

 

The 2023 Rookie Class features a lot of spectacular talent in the game. Victor Wembanyama alone makes the list just really fun to look out for. Then we’ve got the likes of Brandon Miller, Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson, Anthony Black, Bilal Coulibaly, Jarace Walker, and many more. This batch just never runs out of talent to look out for, and it seems that the coming games will be a testament as to how the rookies will step up big time.

 

The last time a batch was this talented? The 2003 Draft Class featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and many more successful players. These players have made big strides in the NBA and have pushed the league to new heights with their incredible performances, and that has set the bar when it comes to the league’s standards of rookies and rising stars in the years to come. The latter four players are already considered future Hall of Famers, which says a lot about how great the talent comparison has been for this year’s edition of rookies.

 

What Makes the 2023 Rookie Class so Special image

 

Why Are the Expectations High for this Year’s Rookie Class?

 

While Wembanyama is clearly the prime talent that a lot of fans are clamoring about among rookies this season, Chet Holmgren, the 2nd overall pick from the previous year’s draft, has entered this year as his rookie campaign after being injured and missing out on the 2022-23 season. Now he is challenging Wembanyama for the top spot in the Rookie of the Year Race.

 

On top of that, there are also multiple standouts from the rest of the rookie class that wasn’t really expected to make a huge campaign. Names such as Brandin Podziemski, Jaime Jaquez Jr, Cam Whitmore, and Dereck Lively II have all made waves in the Rookie Race right now, which says a lot about how this season is seeing bigger talent on the rise.

 

Which Rookies Will Shine Bright in the Second Half of the Season?

 

There are certain speculations as to who will win the Rookie Race, but for now, bringing the expectations for the top performers in the league among rookies should also be a fun talk considering how many among these first-year players have managed to shine bright when their team needed them the most. Here’s GambleSpot’s picks among the rookies to have a glaring performance in the second half:

 

Victor Wembanyama

 

Victor Wembanyama image

 

As spectacular as the French phenom can be, Victor Wembanyama is just leagues ahead among the current rookies (except for Chet Holmgren). His productivity with the San Antonio Spurs has increased to a whole new level, and he has done a great job to put up impressive performances even with head coach Gregg Popovich limiting his minutes to prevent unwanted injuries. That says a lot about the big expectations coming in for the rookie in the second half.

 

So far, Wemby is averaging 20.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game. He recently logged a rare triple-double against the Toronto Raptors earlier this month, tallying 27 points, 14 rebounds, and a whopping 10 blocks.

 

Many fans consider this an elite mark among players – and double that value among rookies as well. This second half should help him bring his game to the next level as the restrictions are about to get lifted, meaning that he will get more chances to bring up impressive performances down the stretch.

 

Chet Holmgren

 

Much like Wemby, there are higher expectations from the DPOY candidate from the Oklahoma City Thunder. While his plays aren’t that shiny like Wembanyama, Holmgren is clearly making a strong impact in the team’s chances of winning this season. OKC jumped from being a Play-In team and is contending for the top spot in the Western Conference. Chet, from a two-way standpoint, has boosted Oklahoma City well with his extreme performances so far.

 

With season averages of 16.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game, Holmgren is definitely showing his worth with well-timed blocks, easy baskets in the paint, and faster offensive direction.

 

Chet Holmgren image

 

This just helps OKC come up with a much more aggressive unit that can adapt against any opponent, especially after going through a tiring January gauntlet that saw them finish 11-6, with lots of back-to-backs and a tougher schedule. A well-rested Chet Holmgren might just be able to deliver the poise that he had to begin the season and come up with fiery performances again.

 

Brandin Podziemski

 

Brandin Podziemski image

 

Believe it or not, the Golden State Warriors have found a gem in Brandin Podziemski with the 19th overall pick. His impressive strides have helped the team shake off their tough struggles in the past few weeks and has performed at a high level to complement Stephen Curry’s massive bursts in the previous games. On top of that, Podz’s +158 is the best that Golden State has seen in years, and that mark is second among the rookies this season – just behind Holmgren.

 

While the Warriors didn’t make any tweaks in the trade deadline, we have seen head coach Steve Kerr come up with an impressive shift in his rotation – putting Podz closer to Curry, especially in crunch-time minutes.

 

This means that he is getting more minutes and will be mentored closely by the NBA’s greatest shooter of all-time. Podziemski is already averaging 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists this season, and being sided with Curry is going to help him thrive – but let’s hope that he doesn’t turn into Jordan Poole in the long run.

 

Cam Whitmore

 

Arguably the greatest steal in the 2023 Draft, Cam Whitmore is seriously having a midseason emergence, averaging 15.4 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 40.7% from three, including flashy dunks and assists through Houston’s recent games. Selected with the 20th pick, Whitmore continues to show a lot of potential and is delivering a massive boost off the bench for the team, and it cannot be denied that the guard is showing some value as of late.

 

The Rockets have a young team full of great potential, and there are just a lot of games left this season with Whitmore being able to step up when needed.

 

Cam Whitmore image

 

He can end up as the sixth man in the rotation for Ime Udoka in the second half of the season as they gear up for a daring climb that will see them back into the Play-In mix at the very least. They will need a lot of Whitmore if they want to see some impressive results as well.

 

Who Will Win the Rookie of the Year this 2024?

 

The Rookie Race has been fun to watch in the 2023-24 season. Unlike the previous runs, this one is a lot tighter between Holmgren and Wembanyama. This just shows that the expectations between the rookies is going to shake up the NBA soon, and fans will definitely be in for a treat. Considering how tight it has been between the two generational big men, it seems that fans will have to make a hard decision to bet on either OKC’s two-way big or the Spurs’ generational talent.

 

Rookie of the Year 2024 image

 

However, GambleSpot is leaning more towards a neutral result in the rookie race. The 1999-2000 saw a different ending with both Elton Brand and Steve Francis being named as co-rookies of the year. Brand averaged 20.1 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 48% from the field. Francis, on the other hand, averaged 18.0 points, 6.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals while shooting 45% from the field. Aren’t these stats mirroring the twin towers of Wembanyama and Holmgren?

 

There you have it. While it is wise to bet on either Wembanyama or Holmgren to win the ROTY this year, it just seems wise to also consider the possibility of having a co-Rookie of the Year winner between the two as they have been just spectacular as of late. Who knows, maybe this will be the first time the NBA awards them both by the end of the season since Francis and Brand were awarded the same.

 

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