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Who are the first NBA stars for the 2021-22 season?

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Who are the first NBA stars for the 2021-22 season?

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Whether it’s because of injuries, the NBA’s Covid-19 health and safety protocols, or an overall annual churn rate, the league has seen a surprisingly rapid rise in young stars this season. Part of that is unique to this year: With several big stars missing in action, there’s more room in the spotlight for new talent.

Miami Heat third-year goaltender Tyler Herro helps keep the team afloat in the face of injuries to their top players. Orlando Magic second-year guard Cole Anthony has grown into a solid all-rounder with an actionable jump shot. And 23-year-old center Jarrett Allen is scoring nearly 17 points per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers with over 70 percent shots. Allen has a good chance of making his first All-Star game this season.

The solid play of three players in particular has given hope to the beleaguered fans of their teams: Evan Mobley, the gangly rookie of the Cavaliers, and Anthony Edwards, the swingman of the Minnesota Timberwolves in his second year. And in the case of second-year Grizzlies goaltender Desmond Bane, he thrived during the injury absence of the team’s top player, Ja Morant, which could have sent Memphis into a free fall.

All three succeed in different ways: Mobley with his size and agility; Edwards with his slash and his dunk; Bane with his shooting prowess. But all of them help their teams to be competitive and they are, to say the least, fun to watch.

None of the three are likely to make the All-Star squad this season, but making them into futures is certainly within reach.

Here’s what makes them three of the stars at the start of the season.

As the Cleveland Cavaliers retired from the league’s basement, one of the most exciting developments for the future of the franchise has been the emergence of rookie forward Evan Mobley.

With a body type and skills that have drawn comparisons with a young Anthony Davis, Mobley is one of the early contenders for the Rookie of the Year award. He was named the inaugural Rookie of the Month of the Season, which covers the months of October and November. During that time, Mobley’s 30 blocks were double that of next top rookie, Toronto’s Scottie Barnes.

Most importantly, his game helps his team win. The Cavaliers were the only team that played a rookie over 400 minutes through November to also have a winning record.

Heading into Christmas, Mobley led all rookies in blocks per game with 1.8 and was tied with Barnes for most rookie rebounds per game. His defensive rating is among the top 10 players who have played at least 25 games this season.

The 6-foot-11 center from Temecula, Calif., Was supposed to shine in the NBA. He was a star in high school and spent a season at the University of Southern California, where he was named the Pac-12 player of the year. , Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

But rookies don’t always fit into the NBA as well.

Anthony Edwards made his mark as a top-flight slasher in his rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year. He was a delight to watch, not least because of his elite dunks. But there were a few questions about his offensive effectiveness as he entered his sophomore year in the league. He shot just 32.9% of 3 last season and 41.7% overall. The NBA has a long, rich list of ineffective scorers who had inflated stats because they were on bad teams who needed someone put the ball in the hoop.

But this season Edwards is shooting a little better, including starting at 3, and keeping the Timberwolves competitive. This month, Edwards scored 10 to 3 points in a game against the Denver Nuggets. He’s still got his work cut out for him to be the top scorer, but at 20 he’s already one of the best young players in the league. He’s also diversified his game in other ways, improving his rebounds and assists, allowing him to contribute to games even when his shot doesn’t fall. If Minnesota qualifies for the playoffs, Edwards’ jump will be one of the main reasons.

He’s also established himself as a leader who isn’t afraid to respectfully call out his teammates, like Karl-Anthony Towns, or do so with less respect to stars from other teams, like the jazz center of the ‘Utah Rudy Gobert. He’s a Minnesota goalie and has an outside shot to make the All-Star team this year, as well as, you know, a real outside shot.

In the 2020 NBA Draft, Desmond Bane was little more than an afterthought – for almost everyone, that is, except for the Memphis Grizzlies, who traded a pair of picks. round two to the Boston Celtics as part of a three-team deal so they could go up in order and select Bane with the final pick in the first round.

Before draft pundits had any questions about Bane, a 6-foot-5 goaltender who had spent four full seasons at Texas Christian University, a red flag at a time when most of the top prospects are one and done. Would Bane just be a sniper in the NBA or be able to create his own looks? And weren’t his arms a bit short? Bane had heard it all.

As a rookie, Bane secured a rotation spot for the Grizzlies as a reliable outside threat. Now a full-time start in his second season, he is the team’s third top scorer behind Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks, and he ranks among the league leaders in 3-pointers (41.3% before Christmas) . Its value was particularly evident when Morant injured his knee in late November. The Grizzlies won 10 of 12 games without him, and Bane was a stabilizing force – and at times spectacular. He had a career-high 29 points in a win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Morant has since returned, and the Grizzlies are at the heart of the playoff race as one of the Western Conference’s most surprising young teams.

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