Top NBA Rookies in the Postseason So Far
By the start of the postseason, most rookies are back in their hometown training and preparing for the next season.
However, there’s still a select few that get the chance to gain valuable experience, playing against top-tier teams in the playoffs.
Here’s three rookies that have already stood out in the postseason and deserve some recognition for their success so far.
Cody Zeller, Bobcats
Zeller has been a valuable contributor off the bench for the Bobcats (soon to be Hornets), averaging 4 points and a rebound in 11.3 minutes per game.
And although most of his points have come off of easy opportunities inside, he’s proven to be a solid backup big man for Charlotte, aiding both Josh McRoberts and Al Jefferson when necessary.
Jefferson is currently struggling with a plantar fascia strain in his left foot, so look for an increase in Zeller’s production and minutes throughout the next few games as the team tries to earn at least one win against Miami.
Mason Plumlee, Nets
For a 22nd pick, Mason Plumlee has had a surprisingly successful rookie campaign, averaging 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and an astounding 19.9 PER, becoming a darkhorse candidate to win the rookie of the year award.
And since the start of the postseason he’s been just as terrific, smothering opponents with a 96.7 defensive rating along with averages of 4.5 rebounds and a block per game.
Like Zeller, he’s been a huge contributor for his team off of the bench, and definitely deserves some credit for his strong play so far in the playoffs.
Pero Antic, Hawks
In Macedonia, Antic is considered a legend, as he’s won 6 championships overseas as well as the Bulgarian League MVP.
In America, Antic may not be placed on the same pedestal, but is still regarded as one of the biggest surprise rookies in his class, averaging 7 points and 4.2 rebounds in his first season despite being undrafted.
With Al Horford out for the postseason, Antic continues to be a force for the Hawks, providing perimeter shooting and strength against a challenging Indiana Pacers team.
If Atlanta has any hope of upsetting the Pacers in this series, they’ll definitely need continued production from the 31 year old out of Macedonia.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops