Quinn Cook’s rookie season flashed some potential as he finished with 15.1 points, 5.0 assists and 2.1 threes per 36 minutes. The problem, as nearly all would surmise, was the scant 187 minutes of action. Well, I’m here to tell you that the usual small sample size argument may be unnecessary because fantastic shooting percentages at the outset of careers have historically proven to bode well for guards — even within just a 14-game window.
During his time with both the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks, Cook made exactly half of his 66 field goal attempts and 42.3% of his 26 three-pointers. Since percentages and attempts were first tracked in 1983-84, only 16 guards have bettered a 47.5 FG% and a 35.0 3FG% during their first 14 professional games while appearing in at least 100 minutes and hoisting one or more threes a game. Quinn Cook is a member of this elite club, but have a look at who else made the list.
You have All NBA selections in Reggie Miller and Kyrie Irving, six All Rookie Team members, and two players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker, that figure to be the faces of their franchises for over the next decade.
On the other end of the spectrum sit some disappointments. Lawrence Moten had a wonderful career at Syracuse, but his four years signaled he had never ironed out a dependable shot as evidenced by a subpar 3FG% and FT%. Trevor Ruffin and Bobby Brown were also flawed players who rode great summer league performances right into the NBA. Injuries have slowed John Jenkins down to an unacceptable level because he had no athleticism to spare in the first place. Plus he has proven too one dimensional to be an adequate contributor.
The rest of the group consists of very serviceable to downright excellent players at times. Ty Lawson and Jason Terry were borderline All-Stars in their heydays, Brent Barry and Wesley Person proved capable enough to carve out long careers and Wesley Matthews, Tyler Johnson and Evan Fournier are in the midst of following these older footsteps.
Remember how the Pelicans were interested in Johnson during the last free agency period? All those times fans linked Fournier’s name to New Orleans? Why not get excited about Quinn Cook? Standing 6’-2’’, his size is perfectly acceptable for a reserve or to participate in plenty of important stretches throughout games. He doesn’t rely on athleticism but a great shot, intensity and toughness. Four years at Duke exemplified these characteristics as well as the necessary leadership skills to run the Pelicans second unit and cede appropriately to either DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis over an 82-game schedule.
With one week remaining in the 2016-17 regular season, I compared Cook to Patty Mills and had hoped to see a similar spark from off the bench during the final four games. Mission accomplished, yet little did I know he would acquit himself so well that it would now be considered a huge mistake if the New Orleans Pelicans fail to guarantee his contract for next season. #PleaseKeepCookHere