NBA Preseason: Killian Hayes, Obi Toppin among rookies to debut Friday
On Friday, the NBA will tip-off its 2020-21 preseason schedule with five matchups set to take place around the league. Each team will play a minimum of two and a maximum of four games as part of the league’s 49-game preseason schedule.
Most teams have participated in training camp now for over a week in preparation for the season. Some players have had several months off since last playing while others, such as those on the Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat, will experience the shortest turnaround between seasons in league history.
The stars of the league will likely play sparingly during the preseason but the slate of games will serve as an opportunity for rookies to log meaningful minutes as they transition to the NBA. Between the handful of games set to begin, several notable rookies will be in action on Friday night.
Rookie Wire took a look at those first-year players set to debut on Friday.
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The Atlanta Hawks will unveil their revamped roster on Friday, headlined by the additions of free agents Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo and Solomon Hill. Unfortunately, sixth overall pick Onyeka Okongwu will not play due to a left foot injury.
Hawks Rookie Players:
- Onyeka Okongwu (6th overall pick)*
- Skylar Mays (50th overall pick)
- Nathan Knight (Undrafted)
Meanwhile, the Magic will send two first-round picks to the floor for the first time with Chuma Okeke, the 16th overall pick last year, and Cole Anthony, the 15th pick this year. Of course, Okeke sat last season in order to rehab an ACL tear but is fully healthy now and set to debut on Friday.
Magic Rookie Players:
- Chuma Okeke (16th overall pick, 2019)
- Cole Anthony (15th overall pick)
- Devin Cannady (Undrafted, 2019)
- Robert Franks (Undrafted, 2019)
- Karim Mane (Undrafted)
- Jon Teske (Undrafted)
*Will not play on Friday
The matchup between the Knicks and Pistons will serve as perhaps the most entertaining battle between rookie players of the evening with No. 7 overall pick Killian Hayes facing off against No. 8 overall pick Obi Toppin and the Knicks.
Hayes has seemingly picked up the Pistons’ system quickly and has emerged as the frontrunner to start at point guard. Pistons veteran Derrick Rose has taken Hayes under his wing and likes what he has seen from him so far in camp.
Pistons Rookie Players:
- Killian Hayes (7th overall pick)
- Isaiah Stewart (16th overall pick)
- Saddiq Bey (19th overall pick)
- Saben Lee (38th overall pick)
- Deividas Sirvydis (37th overall pick, 2019)*
- LiAngelo Ball (Undrafted)
Toppin and fellow first-round pick Immanuel Quickley have had a strong camp so far and have emerged as two of the best-conditioned players with the Knicks. The two figure to log plenty of minutes on Friday night and they could put down a few highlight-worthy plays.
Knicks Rookie Players:
- Obi Toppin (8th overall pick)
- Immanuel Quickley (25th overall pick)
- Myles Powell (Undrafted)
*Will not play on Friday
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Chicago Bulls first-round pick Patrick Williams headlines the group of rookies set to debut in this contest against the Houston Rockets as the fourth overall pick.
Williams earned praise from Coby White this week as a player that has asked questions and shown a willingness to be a great player. He has come in with the right attitude and that has resonated among the other Bulls players during camp.
Bulls Rookie Players:
- Patrick Williams (4th overall pick)
- Devon Dotson (Undrafted)
- Simisola Shittu (Undrafted, 2019)
The Rockets’ crop of rookies is headlined by second-round pick KJ Martin. Houston entered draft night without a pick but opted to purchase one from the Los Angeles Lakers in order to take Martin, who is the son of former No. 1 overall pick Kenyon Martin.
Rockets Rookie Players:
- KJ Martin (52nd overall pick)
- Mason Jones (Undrafted)
- Trevelin Queen (Undrafted)
- Jae’Sean Tate (Undrafted, 2018)
- Brodric Thomas (Undrafted)
- Kenny Wooten (Undrafted, 2019)
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The Battle of L.A. will be light on marquee rookies but will certainly feature some of the best players in the game in LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, although it remains to be seen just how long they will play.
Clippers Rookie Players:
- Daniel Oturu (33rd overall pick)
- Jay Scrubb (55th overall pick)
- Malik Fitts (Undrafted)
- Jordan Ford (Undrafted)
Lakers Rookie Players:
- Zavier Simpson (Undrafted)
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Sacramento will see 13th overall pick Tyrese Haliburton debut on Friday. He was viewed as a potential top-10 pick but ultimately fell to the Kings late in the lottery. He has seemingly been liked by his teammates so far in camp and should present for an entertaining watch against Portland.
Kings Rookie Players:
- Tyrese Haliburton (13th overall pick)
- Robert Woodard (40th overall pick)
- Jahmi’us Ramsey (43rd overall pick)
- Quinton Rose (Undrafted)
Trail Blazers Rookie Players:
- CJ Elleby (46th overall pick)
- Keljin Blevins (Undrafted, 2019)