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Around the NBA: A look at the debuts of the 2017 rookie class

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

We're three days into the 2017-18 NBA season and for the most part, all of the rookies have made their debuts. This draft class had a ton of buzz going into the season and it seemed like most of the first-year's struggled out of the gate with the exception of a few. The first NBA game is always tough, dealing with nerves, pace of the game and the expectation of when you were picked in the draft. 

Let's take a look at how the top 10 picks and some other notable rookies did in their debuts this week:

1. Markelle Fultz (PHI) - After missing some preseason action with knee and shoulder soreness, this year's number one pick entered his first game off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers in a 120-115 loss to the Wizards on Wednesday. The Sixers picked Fultz for his offensive upside, but for whatever reason, he altered his shot mechanics and his game hasn't showed the explosiveness it did when he was in college. Never the less, Fultz had a promising debut, showing off his strong dribbling skills and ability to get to the rim. He finished with 10 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block.

2. Lonzo Ball (LAL) - Out of all the rookie's, Ball's debut was the most hyped and Lonzo got a rude welcome to the NBA, getting guarded and tormented by Clippers' defensive wizard Patrick Beverly. From the opening tip, Beverly was all over Ball and the rookie never looked comfortable even when he wasn't being guarded by him. Lonzo finished with just three points on 1-for-6 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and had four assists, a block and a steal. He'll get little time to think about his lackluster debut as the Lakers head to Phoenix for a match-up with No. 4 pick Josh Jackson and the Suns tonight.

3. Jayson Tatum (BOS) - Lonzo Ball had to deal with First Team All-Defense guard Patrick Beverly. No. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum was tasked with guarding and being guarded by none other than LeBron James in his debut and in the first half, it looked like Tatum was a deer in headlights. As the game progressed though, the rookie got more comfortable and turned in a really solid performance in the Celtics loss. He finished with 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting and 10 rebounds. He was a +6 on the night. Tatum's second game on Friday against the Bucks wasn't as good, scoring eight points and bringing down nine boards in an eight-point loss to Milwaukee. 

4. Josh Jackson (PHO) - Selected fourth overall out of Kansas, Jackson and the Phoenix Suns were blown out by the Trailblazers on their Opening Night Wednesday, falling by a final score of 124-76. Jackson reached double digits with 11 points, but missed six of his 10 shots from the floor. Tonight, Jackson will get to oppose Lonzo Ball and the Lakers as both teams look for their first wins of the young 2017-18 season.

5. De'Aaron Fox (SAC) - Fox and the Sacramento Kings opened their season on Wednesday against Chris Paul, James Harden and the Houston Rockets, who were coming off a dramatic comeback win against the defending champion Warriors the night before. Despite losing 105-100, Fox turned in a really solid effort, finishing with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor. Fox will have the opportunity to go up against fellow rookie Dennis Smith Jr. on Friday night when Sacramento travels to Dallas to take on the Mavericks.

6. Jonathan Issac (ORL) - The Magic beat the Miami Heat on Opening Night, 116-109, and Issac was most effective on the boards, grabbing eight rebounds in 17 minutes while also blocking two shots and adding four points. Issac came off the bench and took just three shots. Issac and the Magic head to Brooklyn for a match-up with D'Angelo Russell and the Nets tonight. 

7. Lauri Markkanen (CHI) - The 7-footer out of Finland had a successful NBA debut despite the Bulls practice altercation and a loss. With Nikola Mirotic sidelined and Bobby Portis suspended, Markkanen got the start at power foward and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes. The Bulls will have a tough test in their next one as they welcome San Antonio to the Windy City on Saturday.

8. Frank Ntilikina (NYK) - The 19-year-old point guard out of France got limited minutes in New York's Opening Night loss to Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder, falling by a final score of 105-84 in a game that was never really even close throughout. In eight minutes, Ntilikina missed both of his field goals and picked up an assist. The Knicks look to rebound from their big loss on Sunday against the Pistons.

9. Dennis Smith Jr. (DAL) - Smith probably had one of the best debuts among his rookie classmates. The speedy point man out of North Carolina State started the game and played 30 minutes, turning in a double double. Smith Jr. finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go along with 10 assists and three rebounds. The Mavericks lost to Atlanta 117-111, but Smith (+3) was one of four players with a positive +/- with former Sixer Nerlens Noel finishing with a team high +9, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 boards off the bench.

10. Zach Collins (POR) - Portland routed Phoenix 124-76, but Collins did not play a single minute.

Here's a quick look at some other notable rookies and how they did in their debuts...

Malik Monk (11th overall, CHA) - After an impressive showing in the preseason, Monk failed to replicate that success in his debut on Wednesday against Detroit, a 102-90 loss for Charlotte. The former Kentucky product finished with just three points on 1-for-9 shooting, including 1-for-6 from beyond the arc, in 21 minutes off the bench.

Donovan Mitchell (13th overall, UTA) - Mitchell followed up a 26-point preseason finale performance with a 10-point effort in his NBA debut, a 106-96 win for the Jazz. He shot just 3-for-11 from the field, but showed a lot of potential while on the floot.

John Collins (19th overall, ATL) - The Hawks no longer have Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver or Tim Hardaway Jr., but their young core of players gutted out a win in their opener against the Mavericks, 117-111. Collins put together a solid debut, scoring 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting while also grabbing five rebounds and two steals.

OG Anunoby (23rd overall, TOR) - In 17 minutes off the bench, the former Indiana product finished with nine points, shooting 50 percent from the floor, to go along with three rebounds and two assists in the win against the Bulls.

Caleb Swanigan (26th overall, POR) - The 20-year-old out of Purdue scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists and a steal in his debut.

Kyle Kuzma (27th overall, LAL) - Selected much later on than teammate and fellow rookie classmate Lonzo Ball, Kuzma had a better debut than Lonzo. In 19 minutes, Kuzma had eight points and four rebounds, shooting 50 percent from the floor.

Jordan Bell (38th overall, GS) - Bell was traded to the defending champs and was a strong compliment off the bench, finishing with eight points on 4-for-5 shooting in 12 minutes during Golden State's loss to Houston on Wednesday.

Dillon Brooks (45th overall, MEM) - The former Oregon Duck excelled in his debut with the Grizzlies, scoring 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with five rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocks, affecting the game on both ends during the 103-91 win over New Orleans.

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