After a rousing week of more player profiles and Draft related conversations, Nate and Connor decided to take another stab at a mock draft. Once again, the mock only covers the first round, yet there have been many changes from the week before, including one of the guys’ first overall selections: Continue reading
A year ago, Gorgui Deng’s game wasn’t polished enough to get him the same attention he’s recently been receiving. Nowadays, the 6’11” Big East Defensive Player of the Year is ditching his bad habits (starting with fast-food) and ironing out an attractive resume with hopes of being chosen as a lottery pick being the best passing big man in the draft (had more assists than both Peyton Siva, Trey Burke, and every other guard in the Tourney Championship Game), and arguably the best defensive one. We mentioned the Continue reading
Here at NBA Rookie Class, it’s about time a bit of a rivalry began. Both fortunately and unfortunately, the staff gets along pretty well, and has no qualms with one another. Yet, when it comes to mock draft’s, everyone thinks Continue reading
While most will look to Carmelo Anthony’s efficient all-around performance from Tuesday night’s mauling of the Indiana Pacers, many others will need to look past the “Top Performers” to see where the focus at NBA Rookie Class lies.
Pablo Prigioni, the 36-year-old undrafted rookie from Argentina, had quite the night for the New York Knicks, as he scored 10 points (4-4 FG, 2-2 3PT), grabbed 4 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, and didn’t Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
As we recover from mounds of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and even more turkey, it’s time to check in with our rookies and see how they’ve performed as of late.
1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG
It continues to amaze me how well and how quickly Lillard has adjusted to the professional level. He leads all rookies in the following categories: points per game (19.5), assists per game (5.8), and steals per game (1.5). If teams can’t start to slow him down soon, the Rookie of the Year contest will be over by the time everyone’s done with their Black Friday shopping.
Last week’s ranking:1 (No change)
2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF
The Bobcats somehow keep winning, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist keeps putting up strong numbers across the board. Correlation? You bet. MKG’s energy and ball pressure on the defensive side of the ball has led to easier looks and opportunities for Kidd-Gilchrist on the offensive end. While the Cats will probably drop off at some point, don’t expect MKG to do so; don’t expect him to fall very far from this list, either, unless someone is outhustling and outperforming him.
Last week’s ranking: 3 (+1)
3) Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C
Valanciunas must have really good ears. After ranking fourth last week, Toronto’s new big man has posted two straight double-doubles and three consecutive games with at least one block (not factoring all of the other shots he’s altered). J-Val’s one weakness so far has been his discipline on the defensive side of the ball, or lack thereof. Valanciunas has fouled out twice in the past week, and has recorded two other games of four or more fouls.
Last week’s ranking: 4 (+1)
4) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF
After a rather lackluster start to the season for such a high draft pick, Barnes has seemingly put all the pieces together, scoring at a higher clip, playing tougher defense, and taking care of the ball much better. Barnes’ improved 11.3 ppg now ranks fifth among rookies, and if he continues to score as he has the past week (12, 20, and 9 in 3 games), that number should only climb higher.
Last week’s ranking: 7 (+3)
5) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF
Anthony Davis has played better than advertised…when he actually plays, that is. Davis has seemingly caught the injury bug and just can’t seem to shake it. After dealing with a minor concussion earlier in the season, Davis is now battling an ankle injury (the same ankle that bothered him during the Olympics this summer). When he’s in the starting line-up, though, teams will soon need to put their best defender on him; he put up 28 points and 11 rebounds in his only game this week, a close 117-113 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Last week’s ranking: 2 (-3)
6) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF
While fellow Detroit rookie Andre Drummond provided some flash in his game that helped to land him on our Rookie Rankings, Kyle Singler (the super-rookie) is starting to perform at a level that not many anticipated from the former Duke Blue Devil. Singler recently strung together three straight double-digit point games and, aside from a disappointing 2-point performance against the Magic, looks to keep the numbers up.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
7) Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics, PF
It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Sullinger started to receive legitimate starters minutes…and the ball. Sullinger, while being given the nod early in the season to start, has been moved around as Doc Rivers and the rest of the C’s look to find a balance in their offense. It looks as though more of their offense will need to go through Sullinger now, after posting his first career double-double this week, and shooting an impressive 57% from the field.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
8) Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors, SG
If you give him minutes, he will perform. Terrence Ross has scored 10 points or more in games in which he’s been given 14 minutes or more; that feat occurred twice this past week, as Ross’s contributions on the offensive end have been efficient and well-needed. Given more time, Ross can continue to grow as an all-around player; in his most recent game against the Bobcats, the newest Toronto shooter scored 11 points, while also filling the stat sheet with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, and no turnovers. Landry Fields should be on his guard, or else he’ll soon be turning over his starting spot to Ross.
Last week’s ranking: N/A
9) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG
He’s a foreign point guard for the Timberwolves, and yet his game-play has kept others from asking “How soon will the other foreign point guard (Rubio) return?” Shved only played once this week (L 101-94 to Denver) but still played well enough to earn himself a second week in our rankings. Should he continue his strong play until Rubio returns, he will have earned himself minutes even after the better-known foreigner hits the floor again.
Last week’s ranking: 6 (-3)
10) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG
Dion Waiters continues to make the list, but barely. Waiters shot an abysmal 25% this week, and hasn’t gotten to the free-throw line as often as of late. With a big game against the difficult Miami Heat tomorrow night, it doesn’t look as though Dion’s percentages will improve anytime soon. He can only hope to contribute in other ways to help the struggling Cavs.
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-5)
What an opening night it was. LeBron finally got his ring, David Stern once again proved that he can’t retire soon enough, and after months of being critiqued and pushed through practices and the preseason, some of the rookies finally got to see some official NBA action with the first professional games of their careers. Here’s a breakdown of who showed up to play last night, and some who just never got the chance:
Player of the Game:
Dion Waiters, a puzzling pick at #4 overall in June’s Draft, showed everything he had to offer last night, scoring 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field, including 2-of-5 from three-point land. Waiters also contributed on the defensive end with 3 steals to lead the team. Waiters, who’s preseason play showed some inconsistencies, seemed as if everything truly clicked for him last night, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for him. Waiters and Cleveland play next on Friday night against the Chicago Bulls.
End of the Bench, Rook:
Unfortunately, this “award” goes to several rookies who simply got caught up in the spirit of competition last night. Rookies such as Kris Joseph of the Celtics, Robert Sacre of the Lakers, and Jared Cunningham and Bernard James of the Mavs didn’t see the floor at all last night, while others such as Fab Melo (Celtics) and Darius Johnson-Odom (Lakers) weren’t even active for last nights game. These rookies will get their reps throughout the season; yet nothing can be held against them, or their coaches, for pushing aside player development to get that ever-important first win of the season. Also, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger played limited minutes last night, as their talents fell by the wayside whilst their teams closed out a close win and played catch-up all night (respectively).
Keep an Eye On:
Although his team suffered a loss, Bradley Beal played well in his time on the court. Earning the start, Beal shot 2-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from three, and tallied 3 rebounds and 3 assists. With a depleted offense due to the absence of John Wall at point guard, Beal will have to provide more offense for the team; however, the rest of the team did not meet expectations last night, shooting a poor 35% from the field. Beal next plays on Saturday against the Celtics.
The Mavs secured an impressive win against the always talented Los Angeles Lakers on the road last night thanks to an impressive performance from Jae Crowder off the bench. Crowder, who was in and out of the starting lineup throughout the preseason due to injuries, willingly accepted a bench role for the season opener and played well, scoring 8 points on 3-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 3PT) and tallying 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Crowder’s role this season looks to have him as a bit of an Energizer Bunny role: he comes off the bench to provide solid play and once he starts, he just keeps going and going and going. Crowder’s motor should continue to get him minutes and those minutes will lead to results. Crowder’s next game will be tonight as the Mavs travel to Salt Lake to take on the Utah Jazz.
It was quite a preseason, to say the least. The Toronto Raptors were an Eastern Conference-best 6-1, the Los Angeles Lakers were an NBA-worst 0-8, and the rookies came out to play.
With the preseason officially coming to a close Friday night and everyone resting before tomorrow night’s season opener, it’s time to review the top performances from the league’s newest members in the final Rookie Impact before tip-off.
Player(s) of the Preseason:
Damian Lillard lead the Class of 2012 with an impressive 16.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, and an impressive 5.8 apg. His point total was higher than that of any other rookie, as well as his output of assists. Lillard also showed consistency in his play by never scoring fewer than 12 points in a game and averaging no less than 3 assists per game.
Anthony Davis is living up to his draft expectations, as he average 14.9 ppg and 9.9 ppg for the New Orleans Hornets during the preseason. He was also third among rookies in blocks per game with 1.57 behind only Jonas Valanciunas and John Henson. While Davis sometimes struggled to put the ball in the basket (2-for-12, 4-for-12, etc.), his effort on the defensive end was obvious, and helped the Hornets to a 4-4 finish.
Undrafted rookie Chris Copeland earned himself a roster spot with the New York Knicks after averaging 15.5 ppg for the New York Knicks with a .517 clip from the field. Copeland should be able to spell Carmelo Anthony should he fall flat during a game, or need long periods of rest. Copeland is also very accurate from the free-throw line, shooting 81% during the preseason.
Jared Sullinger proved that he can play with the big boys of Beantown. While he didn’t record a single double-double in the preseason, Sullinger filled the stat sheet on an otherwise deep roster, showing that he can play when other stacked teams come to town. Sullinger also impressed head coach Doc Rivers, which is not an easy task, as Rivers has been impartial to younger players in the past; Sullinger earned the coach’s trust, and could be the starting power forward for doing so.
End of the Bench, Rook:
Charlotte’s second-overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist struggled mightily during the preseason as he averaged only 5 ppg. It’s hard to expect much out of MKG offensively, given that his jump shot is still developing, and that Charlotte is now focusing more on the defensive side of the ball. Yet it’s hard to see MKG battling for the all-rookie first-team at the end of the season if his offensive output doesn’t improve. His defensive intensity, however, and overall knowledge of the game will help him to remain involved as he works through his growing pains.
Kendall Marshall of the Phoenix Suns also had a frustrating preseason. The North Carolina product averaged a mere 3 points per game this preseason. Marshall, who was drafted to coincide with Steve Nash leaving, is expected to be the point guard of the future for Phoenix. Yet it is clear that the team doesn’t think he’s ready just yet, especially with Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola in their primes, and Michael Beasley finally starting to play better basketball. Give him time, though, and Marshall should excel as he did at UNC.
Golden State got an absolute steal in the draft when the polished collegiate product Draymond Green fell to them at 35 overall. Green, however, didn’t get a lot of court time, and his numbers suffered greatly because of it. The Warriors’ rookie only averaged 3.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 1.8 apg. For someone coming off a triple-double in his last NCAA Tournament, Green has quite a lot of competition to get back to that level of productivity.
Dallas drafted Jared Cunningham with the thought of him taking over for either Jason Terry or Vince Carter in the long run, due to his solid shooting skills, and his athletic ability. Yet the Mavs, who are in win-now mode, signed O.J. Mayo this offseason, which limited Cunningham’s minutes. The Mavs’ first-round pick only averaged 3.9 ppg, 1 rpg, and 0.9 apg. While he has the time on the bench, Cunningham should be asking as many questions as he can of his veteran teammates now, so that he can take over for them when the right time comes.
Keep an Eye On:
While Cunningham struggled, his teammate Jae Crowder had a very enjoyable preseason. Crowder, who found himself starting several games due to injury, took advantage of the opportunity and could also start the season opener due to a lack of big men. The Marquette alum averaged 11.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and led all rookies with 1.88 steals per game. Expect the rookie’s defense to keep his name in constant conversation throughout the season for the all-rookie first-team.
With John Wall out for six or so more weeks, Bradley Beal will have a lot of pressure from hardcore Washington fans to produce for the team. Beal, though, is up for the task. While his play was inconsistent throughout the preseason, he still finished with averages of 11.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, and 2.5 apg, and should provide Washington with a wonderful two-guard for years to come; for now, he will most likely fly under the radar without Wall by his side, but it’s probably best for him to focus on his play rather than the critics.
Andre Drummond had a productive preseason coming off the bench for Greg Monroe. While not expected to do much, Drummond had an exciting month of putback dunks and alley-oops. Yet his defense was the most exciting part, as he had multiple games where dunks and rebounding looked as second nature to the man as breathing. Drummond’s role probably won’t expand much in his rookie campaign, but if he can consistently deliever 8 to 10 points and 7 to 9 rebounds off the bench, Detroit could have found themselves a solid big-man in the making.
How’d the rookies perform last night? Here’s a recap of the best and worst from October 18th.
Yesterday was the first taste of many for the incoming rookie class. The top three draft picks all saw playing time, and faced much more serious competition than they’ve previously seen in college and the Summer League. Here’s a breakdown of the rookies’ performances from yesterday’s games:
Boston Celtics 105 — Emporio Armani Milano 75
Washington Wizards 88 — Charlotte Bobcats 100
Miami Heat 79 — Atlanta Hawks 92
Orlando Magic 80 — New Orleans Hornets 85
Golden State Warriors 110 — Los Angeles Lakers 83
All four Celtics rookies saw action against their European opponent yesterday. Jared Sullinger, who got the start, led the way with 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block in 18 minutes of play, as he tries to work his way into a permanent role as a starter. Kris Joseph and Fab Melo only scored a combined 2 points in 12 minutes, as the starters and other bench players ahead of them on the depth chart (i.e., Jeff Green and Darko Milicic) had much more productive afternoons, giving the rooks little time to show their stuff. Also, super-rookie Dionte Christmas saw some solid action coming off of the end of the C’s very deep bench; he recorded 9 points and 4 rebounds in only nine minutes of play.
Charlotte’s second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist squared off against third overall pick Bradley Beal’s Wizards, with the upstart Cats getting the win, thanks in part to MKG’s effort on the defensive end. This steal led to an easy two points, en route to Kidd-Gilchrist finishing the day with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Fellow rookie Jeffrey Taylor scored a single point in a mere two minutes of action. Beal, however, had the most impressive numbers on the day, as he led all scorers with 18 points off of the bench.
The returning champion Heat feature no incoming rookies on this years roster, and all those on the Hawks roster were healthy scratches in yesterday’s lineup. First round pick John Jenkins, second round pick Mike Scott, and super-rookie Keith Benson all observed yesterdays matchup, in what one assumes is a ploy by head coach Larry Drew to have the players watch and learn before hitting the hardwood.
First overall pick Anthony Davis made his preseason debut with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in 23 minutes as a starter as he and fellow rookie Austin Rivers (10 points, 1 assist) helped contribute to a late comback by NO. Darius Miller also added 5 efficient points off the bench in a quick eight minutes of work. The Magic’s incoming rookies Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn didn’t experience as much success, as the two combined for 4 points off the bench in 24 minutes of work. Fifteenth overall pick Maurice Harkless (received in the Dwight Howard trade) is recovering from a sports hernia and did not play.
Two of Golden State’s three rookies played high-efficiency games in the teams win over the Dwight-less Lakers. Festus Ezeli recorded 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block and a plus/minus of (+20) on the day, while Harrison Barnes scored 13 points off the bench and finished with a plus/minus of (+22). The Warriors’ other rookie Draymond Green sat out the game with left knee inflamation. In Dwight’s place, the 2012 Draft’s Mr. Irrelevant Robert Sacre got the start in Superman’s place and finished the day with 6 points and 4 rebounds, but also 4 fouls in only 18 minutes. Sacre did, however, score off a beautiful highlight reel pass from Steve Nash. Other Lakers rookie Darius Johnson-Odom played a brief six minutes, recording only 2 points.