Two of the NBA’s hot-shot rookies will be featured on Saturday when the Chicago Bulls visit the Atlanta Hawks.
Chicago’s Wendell Carter Jr., the team’s first-round pick from Duke, will go up against Atlanta’s Trae Young, the first-round pick from Oklahoma, when the clubs meet for the first time this season.
Atlanta (2-2) has won two straight games. The Hawks are coming off a 111-104 win over Dallas on Wednesday, a win that saw them erase a 26-point deficit. Chicago (1-4) is coming off a 135-106 loss to the Charlotte Hornets and are 0-3 on the road.
Carter will be returning to his hometown of Atlanta for the first time. He was a two-time Georgia High School Player of the Year at Pace Academy and spent one year at Duke, where he was All-ACC, before bolting for the NBA. Carter became only the 10th rookie to start for the Bulls on opening night and is averaging 6.5 points and 5.3 rebounds. He ranks second among rookies with 1.5 blocks per game.
Young is already starting to become a fan favorite in Atlanta for his ability to drain long-distance jumpers and distribute the ball. He averages 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
He led the team to the fourth-quarter comeback win against the Mavericks and grabbed the microphone after the game to speak to the fans.
“Thank you, Atlanta,” Young said. “This is just the beginning.”
Young also enlivened the games of veteran Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince. Bazemore is averaging 18 points after a season-high 32 on Wednesday and Prince is averaging a team-leading 21.8 points.
Prince, now in his third season, has continued to make strides toward becoming a complete player.
“It was something I really wanted for myself to be able to grow,” Price said. “I know Trae is the point guard and the head of the snake for us, but it’s always good to have that second head coach on the floor along with the point guard, just knowing what guys are going and getting in the right sets.”
The Bulls are led in scoring by Zach LaVine, who averages 32.3 points; he scored 20 points on Friday. Chicago is playing without Kris Dunn (knee), Lauri Markkanen (elbow), Denzel Valentine (ankle) and Bobby Portis.
“I know we are throwing a lot of makeshift lines out there, but it is not an excuse to not go out there and play hard,” said Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg.
The Hawks have also gotten production inside from Alex Len, who averages 9.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and two blocks, and DeAndre Bembry, who averages 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. The inside game is expected to get even better with the return of Dewayne Dedmon, a starter last year, who played 14 minutes against the Mavericks in his first appearance this season because of an ankle injury.
The Hawks continue to be without power forward John Collins, who is likely out until mid-November with an ankle injury. Atlanta forward Alex Poythress left the game in the first half with an injured knee and did not return; he will miss at least three games with a bone bruise.
Chicago swept the three-game season series with Atlanta last year and have won four straight against the Hawks.
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