NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be great at the next level, or just one dimensional (hawksbasketblog.com)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be great at the next level, or just one dimensional (hawksbasketblog.com)

After all that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has accomplished in his two years at Georgia, it’s a wonder that more people haven’t heard his name thrown around as a top prospect in the Draft class of 2013. Caldwell-Pope (or KCP, as some are now referring to him as) has performed admirably for an otherwise less than stellar Bulldogs squad in his time in Athens, and yet isn’t being mentioned in the same sentence as Ben McLemore and/or Victor Oladipo. Caldwell-Pope was even named to the Coaches’ Continue reading

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Rookie Recap: New York Knicks’ Chris Copeland, Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard Awarded Kia’s Rookies of the Month

Copeland joined Jamario Moon, Ivan Johnson, and Jeremy Lin as undrafted rookies to receive Kia's monthly honor. (knicks.lohudblogs.com)

Copeland joined Jamario Moon, Ivan Johnson, and Jeremy Lin as undrafted rookies to receive Kia’s monthly honor. (knicks.lohudblogs.com)

The two most outstanding rookies of April –and possibly the two biggest surprises of the 2012 NBA Draft –were awarded the Kia Rookie of the Month Award on Friday. The winners, Chris Copeland of the New York Knicks and Eastern Conference recipient and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Western Conference recipient, were by far the most dominant rookies of the month of April. Both players posted multiple career-highs during the month (Copeland for points and minutes played, and Lillard for points and blocks) and gained plenty of experience that should carry over into next season.

Copeland, an undrafted rookie from Colorado who’s traveled far and wide to make it to the NBA, was not expected to deliver much off the bench when the season began; however, due to a combination of timely shooting, injuries, and sudden retirements, Copeland has made his presence in New York felt, and should be a key contributor for the Knicks in their first-round playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics. Continue reading

BBVA Rising Stars Challenge: Rookies Play Well, Chuck Victorious Again

While we were hoping the game would highlight just the rookies of the league, Kenneth Faried and the rest of the sophomores had a different idea.  Faried led Team Chuck to a 163-135 victory with 40 points and 10 rebounds.

While we were hoping the game would highlight just the rookies of the league, Kenneth Faried and the rest of the sophomores had a different idea. Faried led Team Chuck to a 163-135 victory over Team Shaq with 40 points and 10 rebounds. (nba.com)

Team Shaq is going home sad tonight.  For the second time in as many years, Team Chuck came out on top, overcoming the lack of the first overall draft pick for the second year in a row, and not having the opportunity to have Kyrie Irving play for him again this year.

Regardless of which Team you were rooting for tonight, everyone came out a winner.  Both squads featured the best young talent in the league, and it showed tonight…on the offensive side of the ball.  In terms of statistics, this night was fantastic: Team Chuck 163-Team Shaq 135 with both teams shooting at least 62% from the field.  Numbers aside, it was a great way for the nation to see just how much the League’s rookies have grown in their short time in the season.  Here’s a running commentary/breakdown of tonight’s first-half action that can only make us salivate about what’s to come throughout the rest of this weekend: Continue reading

Anthony Davis: Still Down and Out

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The first-overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft Anthony Davis is still out with an ankle injury. (www.bleacherreport.com)

It appears as though fans in New Orleans will continue to have to bide their time before they get to enjoy the full potential of their team’s first overall draft pick.

Anthony Davis, who is out with a stress reaction in his left ankle, will be out with the injury for Continue reading

Rookie Rankings: Pistons’ Rookies Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond Impress

Now that everyone has successfully recoverd from the stuffing, turkey, and grandma’s green bean cassarole, it’s time for another week’s Rookie Rankings, leading us right into the most wonderful time of the year.  It’s been a wonderful year for some rookies, but not others.  Did your favorite have what it takes to stay on the list this week?

Pistons rookie Andre Drummond has plenty to be happy about this week, as he worked his way back into our Rookie Rankings (mlive.com)

Pistons rookie Andre Drummond has plenty to be happy about this week, as he worked his way back into our Rookie Rankings (mlive.com)

1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG

It’s getting harder and harder to find faults with Lillard’s performances.  Game after game and week after week, it seems as though no one will be able to unseat Lillard from this top spot on our Rankings.  Lillard averaged 18.3 ppg and 6.8 apg over four games this week; unfortunately, Damian’s offense couldn’t help the Trail Blazers in all aspects, as the team went 1-3 during this weeks games.
Last week’s ranking: 1 (no change)

2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

Kidd-Gilchrist has cooled off ever so slightly, as noticed in his offensive numbers lately (11, 10, 8, 6 points respectively last four games), yet his effort on the defensive side of the ball is still noticed and very much appreciated by the Bobcats.  MKG is still averaging 1.2 spg and 1.4 bpg, very impressive numbers for any SF not named LeBron James and/or Kevin Durant.
Last week’s ranking: 2 (no change)

3) Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C

Valanciunas is starting to look like the steal of the Draft…the 2011 Draft, that is.  While Cleveland got a sure-fire All-Star in Kyrie Irving, Minnesota, Utah, and Cleveland are all kicking themselves for passing up on the big man from Lithuania.  J-Val had another impressive week, shooting 54.5% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line, a very impressive number for a 7-footer.  Valanciunas also shot the ball 33 times from the field and 12 times from the free-throw line, so you know those numbers are battle tested.
Last week’s ranking: 3 (no change)

4) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF

Barnes had himself a solid week of work, including one double-double and one dunk that shocked the NBA world.  While his other numbers may show a still-timid Barnes who is still trying to figure out his role on an ever-evolving Warriors team, plays like the aforementioned show as to why Barnes was drafted 7th overall, and that once he puts everything together, he could be posterizing people like that for years to come.
Last week’s ranking: 4 (no change)

5) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF

Singler has shot up our rankings in the last few weeks, moving from an unranked-afterthought to someone who could find themselves still moving up if he continues to perform at this level.  Singler scored in double-digits in three of his four games this week, and also recorded his first career double-double with a 16 point, 10 rebound performance in a 108-101 win over Portland.
Last week’s ranking: 6 (+1)

6) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG

Waiters must have heard what we had to say about his performance last week.  Waiters immediately began scoring with a higher rate of efficiency, and getting to the free-throw line more, something that he had been doing a poor job of last week.  He’s also helped in other ways during Kyrie Irving absence, including dishing out 4.3 apg, an improvement over his season average of 2.9.
Last week’s ranking: 10 (+4)

7) Jeff Taylor, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

Taylor has been turning heads as of late, and it’s not simply because of his defense.  A solid all-around four-year player out of Vanderbilt, Taylor makes our list due to his increased contributions on the offensive end for the Bobcats; Taylor scored in double-figures in five straight games before only posting 6 points in a loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.  However, Taylor’s confidence has improved greatly, and he’s much more inclined to take a shot now than he was at the beginning of the season.
Last week’s ranking: N/A

8) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, C

Drummond fell out of our rankings last week due to some inconsistencies, and because he was out-performed by his fellow rookies.  This week, however, Drummond returns with a mission in mind: defense wins championships…and gets you on NBA Rookie Class’ Rookie Rankings.  Drummond, while horrible offensively this week, has contributed on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 9.8 rpg and 1.8 bpg.  Drummond also recorded his first career double-double with a 13 point, 13 rebound effort in a close 91-90 win over Toronto.
Last week’s ranking: N/A

9) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG

Shved’s playing time may quickly dwindle due to Ricky Rubio’s impending return, but Shved surely won’t go down without a fight.  The upstart Russian has averaged 9.8 ppg, 1 spg, and 2.5 apg this week, primarily off the bench.  While it’s Rubio’s job once he returns, Shved still has the opportunity to make his presence known off the bench for the T’Wolves.
Last week’s ranking: 9 (no change)

10) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF

It’s difficult to see a player with so much promise and potential plummet this far in our Rookie Rankings; however, it’s also very difficult to rank Davis much higher than 10th, considering that he hasn’t played in almost two full weeks now, due to a nagging ankle injury.  Should Davis return soon, he could easily find himself ranked much higher.  Should Davis not return soon, he could easily find himself off of this list.
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-5)

Don’t agree with our rankings?  Leave a comment below letting us know who deserves to be where on this list.  Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Shot Clock Violation: 24 Things We Learned on Nov. 25

As we all know, teams have 24 seconds to get a shot off.  Some times, teams are successful; other times, they fail miserably.  Here at NBA Rookie Class, we plan on succeeding time and time again in bringing you the 24 best, worst, and most interesting things that our NBA rookies did from that day’s games, or the night before.

1) Jonas Valanciunas played like a veteran.  22 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists.  He made his other foreign Toronto big man Andrea Bargnani look extremely useless, as Bargnani finished 2-of-19 from the field for a total of 4 points.

2) Valanciunas has now issued at least one block in his last five games.  The big man knows how to play defense.

Andre Drummond really, really, really likes playing defense (probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com)

3) Some other rookie big men also know how to play defense.  Detroit’s Andre Drummond had three blocks including this nice one against Carmelo Anthony.

4) Drummond still doesn’t have a clue on offense, as he went 1-of-6 from the field, finishing the game with two points.  Offensively, he’s just challenged.

5) Drummond’s rookie teammate (or super-rookie) Kyle Singler is far from offensively challenged.  Singler finished the night with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 3-point, 4-of-5 free-throw) and 3 rebounds.

6) Singler needs to stop fouling.  He had five fouls tonight, the fifth time this season that he’s had 4 or more fouls in a game.  Too many fouls will start to equal too much bench time, and not enough development.

7) Detroit’s Kim English is ineffective in only four minutes of play, but that’s on the coaching staff for not playing him enough.  It’s also difficult to make a difference with only two shot attempts, as well.

8) English should ask the Knicks’ Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland, as the two of them know a thing or two about limited opportunities.  The two Knickerbocker rookies only had 5 attempts between the two of them in 16 combined minutes of action.

9) Evan Fournier of the Nuggets excelled with his few shot attempts.  2-of-2 from the field; however, it took Fournier 11 minutes to get those looks, showing that the team still isn’t that confident in his abilities.

10) The Orlando Magic also didn’t give 15th overall pick Maurice Harkless many looks tonight.  Harkless scored 5 points on 2-of-3 shooting, but the Magic coaching staff must like what they see, as Harkless received the nod to start tonight.  Harkless showed his appreciation by contributing on the defensive end with 3 rebounds, a steal, and a block.

11) Andrew Nicholson came off the bench for the Magic, and was extremely efficient offensively: 4-of-6 shooting from the field.  Nicholson, however, needs to work on his aggressive nature on the defensive side of the ball so that he too can one day start for Orlando.

12) Playing off the opposing bench, Jared Sullinger scored 11 points and pulled down 6 offensive rebounds.  With numbers like that, it seems that Sullinger could be in the starting line-up again very soon.  The personal fouls, though, need to be taken care of (4 fouls in 20 minutes of play).

13) Austin Rivers is trying to work his way back into New Orleans’ starting line-up as well.  He’s not having much success, however: 2-of-10 from the field with 3 turnovers.  Rivers did fill out the stat sheet quite nicely, though: 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a block.

14) Anthony Davis didn’t play.  Again.  That doesn’t bode well for his future, as injuries this early can never be a good sign.

15) You know you’re good when someone refers to a night during which you scored 13 points and handed out 7 assists as a “bad night”.  Portland’s Damian Lillard did struggle with ball control (4 turnovers) and getting open shots (blocked 3 times), but anytime a rookie point guard can make a heads up play such as this, the turnovers and blocks against become afterthoughts.

16) Lillard also recorded 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.  Even when we try to find faults with his game, he still plays an all-around great game.

17) It’s nice to see Lillard’s rookie partner-in-crime Meyers Leonard getting a few starts.  Leonard scored 12 points and added 3 rebounds and a block.  Given more time to develop as a young big in the league, Leonard could be recording double-double’s in no time.

18) Only time will tell if several Lillard-to-Leonard alley-oops will be highlighted on this site, but it sure would be nice to see some.

19) All rookies combined tonight posted a -72 +/-rating.  Granted, one player can’t be accounted for a whole team, but that number does not look very appealing.

20) At least some rookies played.  Detroit’s Khris Middleton, Boston’s Kris Joseph and Fab Melo, Orlando’s Kyle O’Quinn, Denver’s Quincy Miller, Phoenix’s Kendall Marshall, and Brooklyn’s Tornike Shengelia didn’t get to hit the court at all.  A few of the aforementioned weren’t even allowed to dress.

Arnett Moultrie needs more time to develop, something that Philly hasn’t been giving him (nba.com)

21) Philadelphia’s Arnett Moultrie probably would’ve been better off not playing.  He was only given 7 minutes off the end of Philly’s bench, and wasn’t given many opportunities to do anything.

22) Considering Moultrie lead the SEC in rebounds per game last year (not Anthony Davis, as many assume), it’s surprising Philly isn’t giving him more playing time.

23) It’s still surprising that Anthony Davis is out with an injury; it’s not a good sign for longevity in the league.  Just ask Greg Oden.

24) It’s even more surprising that this list made it to 24 things…even if this one isn’t extremely official.

Thanks for reading.  You can comment about any one of the 24 “things”, or bring up something that we failed to mention.  We’re always looking for opinions and ways to improve.

Also, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Anthony Davis: Successful but Susceptible

There’s only so much stress a new player in the NBA can handle.  At some point, each rookie is bound to hit the unavoidable “rookie wall”, or make some sort of “rookie mistake” that either costs his team a game or finds the player a nice piece of the bench to keep warm.  Sometimes it’s both a game and bench time.  Sometimes it’s the “rookie wall” and “rookie mistakes”.

And sometimes it’s injuries.

Anthony Davis, one of the most heralded draft picks in recent years, has yet to run into the “rookie wall” or make a “rookie mistake”.  He has, however, been hit by the injury bug several times already, and the season has yet to reach the quarter mark.

Anthony Davis has the potential, but he needs to be on the court to make a difference for his team (bleacherreport.com)

Davis has been one of this years top rookies when he’s on the court.  AD is averaging 16 points per game (second among rookies), 8.3 rebouds per game (first among rookies), and an outstanding 2.2 blocks per game (also first among rookies).  Were Davis playing in every game in this young season, he probably would’ve unseated Damian Lillard from the top spot in our Rookie Rankings by now.  Yet a minor concussion and a lingering ankle injury have Davis sidelined for five games already and now tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets.One thought behind the injuries is that Davis’ body simply isn’t used to the more physical competition that the NBA offers.  Standing at a tall and lanky 6′ 10″ and 220 lbs., Davis has been pushed around by his larger opponents, and it’s already started to take its toll on his body.

Another issue for Davis is that his body could be going through difficult times as it continues to adjust to itself.  Davis, mind you, entered high school at a mere 6′ 1″ before sprouting to 6′ 9″ by his junior year.  Ideally, Davis should still be a sophomore in college and a mere two years (three at most) away from this massive growth spurt.  As Davis’ body continues to try to grow into its own, Davis continues to put it through rigorous poundings game after game, which can’t help matters very much.

Anthony Davis has all the tools to be a fantastic player.  He has the length, athleticism, and on-court awareness to be an All-Star for years to come.  Right now, though, he just needs his body to cooperate.