NBA

4 Second-Year Players Who Had a Great Month of April

Jan 8, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder's Luguentz Dort (5), right, knocks the ball away from New York Knicks' RJ Barrett, center, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, in New York at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Seth Wenig/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

So much young talent is present in the NBA right now. We are indeed witnessing the start of the next generation of NBA basketball. Additionally, many second-year players have been playing stellar basketball recently. So today, we’ll focus on the sophomore season NBA players who had a great month in April.

Kevin Porter Jr.

Apr 29, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) dribbles the ball as Milwaukee Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo (43) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Porter Jr. has improved a great deal since Houston traded for him. Rockets fans have even compared him to superstar James Harden due to their similar playstyles. Both are crafty scorers, left-handed shooting guards, and great isolation players. Additionally, KPJ is a gifted playmaker, just like Harden was.

From April 5 to April 30, Porter Jr. averaged 18.4/6.9/4.6 on 58.67 TS%. Houston is currently in a rebuilding process, and Porter Jr. has been able to thrive and develop as of late. Porter Jr. looks to be Houston’s shooting guard of the future, and he will only continue to improve as a player.

On April 29, Porter Jr. had a great game, posting 50 points and 11 assists against the Bucks. He became the youngest player in Rockets history to ever drop 50 at just 22 years old. Additionally, Porter Jr. and Harden are the only players to have a 50/10 game in Rockets history.

For a large part of the game, an elite defender in Jrue Holiday guarded Porter Jr. This makes the performance even more impressive and shows he can score the ball no matter who is defending him. If this performance indicates Porter Jr’s future, it is a scary sight for the rest of the league.

However, Porter Jr’s path to Houston wasn’t pretty. In 2019, Cleveland drafted him with the final pick in the first round. However, The Cavs traded him after he had an outburst of anger in the locker room. Houston acquired him in exchange for just one second-round pick.

Porter Jr. is already proving to the league that he is far more valuable than one second-round pick. If he continues to play at this level, he will have a bright future and a rewarding career.

Luguentz Dort

Apr 27, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) moves the ball against Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Another one of the second-year players having a great month is Luguentz Dort. Despite struggling with a hip injury, Lu Dort had a terrific month in April. He has been getting more touches than usual, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been out with a foot injury.

In total, Luguentz Dort averaged 24.4/5.3/1.7/1.3 on an efficient 60.62 TS%. Additionally, Dort had a three-game stretch in April in which he averaged 32.3/5.7/2.3/2.7 on 63.61 TS%.

Dort has also had some incredible games in April. On April 13 against the Jazz, he posted 42 points, seven rebounds, and four steals. He became the second-youngest Thunder to score 40+ behind Kevin Durant. Dort also had 29 points on 78.29 TS% on the 18th against the Pistons.

Going undrafted in 2019, Dort has come a long way with the Thunder. Many once considered him to be one of the worst offensive players in the league. However, he has shown incredible improvement on the offensive end in recent months. Along with his elite defense, Dort has the potential to become a great 2-way player.

Just like Houston, Oklahoma City is currently in a rebuilding phase. They genuinely have the pieces to contend for a championship in a few years, with lots of talent and draft picks. Dort will most definitely be a crucial part of this franchise for the years to come.

RJ Barrett

Apr 24, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 24,2021, in New York. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

RJ Barrett is another one of the second-year players making a significant impact this season. The New York Knicks have been on an absolute rampage recently. They are currently the fourth seed in the East, and Barrett is a massive reason for this success. From April 5 to April 30th, Barrett averaged 19.2/4.9/2.6 on 60 TS%. Additionally, the Knicks are a whopping 10-3 in this timeframe.

In a draft class headlined by Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, Barrett has flown somewhat under the radar. However, he plays stellar basketball as of late and is a terrific second option behind Randle for New York. The Knicks are a team that you don’t want to face in the first round of the playoffs.

In April, New York went on a nine-game win streak, their longest since 2013. In that period, Barrett averaged a productive 17.7/4.9/2.7 and shot an excellent 41.5 percent from downtown.

Barrett has had some fantastic outings this month for the Knicks. For example, Barrett scored 29 points on 92.01 TS% on April 7 against the Celtics. He also had 25 points and 12 rebounds to help New York win their ninth straight against Toronto on the 24th.

Additionally, many believed then the Knicks would miss the playoffs altogether this year. They are proving the doubters wrong this year and are a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.

Barrett looks to be a big part of New York’s future. He will continue to make a significant impact on the franchise as his career progresses.

Michael Porter Jr.

Apr 29, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) yells from the court in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Porter Jr. is one of the best second-year players in the league this year. Although he was drafted in 2018, he suffered a back injury that caused him to miss his entire rookie year.

Jamal Murray’s ACL tear has allowed Porter Jr. to take on a more prominent role in the Nuggets offense. In April, Porter Jr. averaged an excellent 23.9/7.7/1.1/1.3 on a highly efficient 66.89 TS%. Even with Murray’s injury, the Nuggets have a stellar record of 13-3 in April.

Porter Jr. has had some stellar performances in April too. He recorded 39 points on 84.05 TS% on the 24th against the Rockets. In addition, Porter Jr. posted 31 points and seven boards versus Memphis on April 26.

It would be huge for the Nuggets for Porter Jr. to continue this excellent play into the playoffs. Denver will give any team they play in the first round a run for their money if he does.

Michael Porter Jr. is one of the complete young scorers in the league right now. He’s 6’10 and can dribble, shoot, and finish with ease. He has also already drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant, and it’s easy to see why this is the case.

Michael Porter Jr. has a very bright career ahead of him if he can stay healthy. He and Jokic will undoubtedly wreak havoc on the league in the years to come.

In conclusion, several second-year players had breakout months in April. The future of the NBA is bright, and these players will only get better as they mature and develop.

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