June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; A general view of the first round draft board at the conclusion of the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

2012-2013 Season Rookie Predictions

With the NBA draft far behind in our rear-view mirrors and the Summer League finally coming to a holt, its time for some rookie predictions.

Now, lets not get confused here. We’ve only caught glimpses of these guys and really, before the Summer League, have only seen them in their respective March Madness runs. The Summer League is not a gauge for how good they will be as a rookie, or as a player overall, but rather allows them to prove their worth among competition on a level playing field. We’re able to really see who has a grasp on their game, what they need to work on, and where they’re at as a player right now.

Just because a rookie has a poor showing in the Summer League doesn’t mean that they’ll have a poor career, in other words.

Now lets dig in. I’m going to give my Rookie of the Year prediction along with my all rookie first team. Of course, I will be providing explanations with them as well. What would Hardwood Houdini be without, you know, objectivity and reason. Am I right? Of course I am.

Rookie of the Year goes to….

Now, my Rookie of the Year prediction will probably be a little bit off the wall, but after my explanation I’m sure you’ll be along for the ride as well. The Rookie of the Year in the 2012-13 NBA season will be none other than the Portland Trailblazer’s new guard Damian Lillard out of Weber State.

July 19, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives in the first half of the game against the Atlanta Hawks at the Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

I don’t know how popular of a pick Lillard will become throughout the season, but I think he has the tools to have a high impact on this Trailblazer team. With Raymond Felton out of the picture, it is clear that Lillard has the reigns to this carriage and he shouldn’t let go. The Summer League Co-MVP is poised to have what could be considered a high usage rate for a rookie and will likely be the catalyst for their offense which is based on guard play.

Though Lamarcus Aldridge gets a lot of touches, he can’t control the flow of the game as Lillard can as a guard. Last season, Aldridge got out of rhythm because of the awful guard play of Ray Felton and Jamal Crawford–they never got him the ball in spots where he wanted it. Lillard will surely do that as the lead guard and will also seek his opportunities to score, as well, on a team with the lack of a dominant offensive presence outside of Lamarcus Aldridge.

I look for Lillard to have a similar effect that a lot of rookie guards have had in recent years. You look at guys like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Ricky Rubio, and John Wall and you see the positive effect that they’ve had on their respective franchises. Point guard is the premier position in the NBA and when you can sure that up you’re in good shape.

A big like Anthony Davis won’t get a lot of post touches or opportunities to score points. Defensively, he’ll struggle as a rookie like all of them do because of the speed of the game. Davis won’t have the same immediate impact a guy like Lillard will have because the ball will automatically be in Lillards hands to start possessions off. He’s making all of the decisions on the floor.

Lillard is a really polished and developed player that has a smooth game that fits right in with what Portland wants to do. Don’t be surprised if my prediction comes to fruition. Just remember where you heard it at first.

 

All Rookie Teams

 

June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Anthony Davis (Kentucky), right, is introduced as the number one overall pick to the New Orleans Hornets by NBA commissioner David Stern during the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

From the look of this draft class, it could end up being one of the deepest ones of all time. After Anthony Davis, there were a plethora of players who could’ve went at two. The same could have been said for picks three through 13 as well. I think a lot of these guys could end up being starting rotation players to legitimate All-Stars to guys who will most definitely be household names.

I felt that it would be unjust to have just one rookie team, so I formed two.

Team one

G: Damian Lillard
G: Bradley Beal
G: Jeremy Lamb
F: Harrison Barnes
F: Anthony Davis

I think that these rookies will produce the most and have landed in almost perfect situations to showcase their talents. I’ve already taken you aboard the Damian Lillard express by now, so there’s no need to go down that track again. Bradley Beal is another story though. With a backcourt teammate that likes to run the floor, just as Beal does, they’ll be a perfect fit together.

Also, Wall is a monster at getting into the lane and collapsing the defense. Beal will surely keep them honest with a jumper that he continues to hone. He’s not the purest shooter yet, but he has the form down and will gain consistency as he conditions himself better. The problem is normally with Beal’s legs–as the game wears on his energy decreases. That takes the effectiveness out of his jumper as well.

That’s something that can be fixed, though. There will be plenty of teachable moments in Washington, but Beal will shine in the end.

Jeremy Lamb is also someone who sticks out to me. Lamb is a 6’5 shooting guard with a 7’3 wingspan. The only way that he doesn’t succeed in the NBA is if he simply does not want to.

Lamb is a freak athlete as well. He plays the game at a slow pace but jumps out the gym when getting to the rim. His handle is way above par for a shooting guard and rivals some of the point guards that were drafted in this class. Sure, he can work on ball security. But the framework is there–you can run an offense through Lamb. When Jeremy Lin is off of the floor, I’m sure Kevin Mchale will opt to do so more often than not.

Take a look at this video where he compares himself to Jamal Crawford.

Moving on, Anthony Davis is probably a no brainer on this team. He might be the most NBA ready player in this draft with his astounding combination of length and skill. Though Davis had a growth spurt, he didn’t forget how to handle the ball or shoot it as a big. Those are elements of his game that are extremely valuable at his position. His footwork is great for such a young player and his ability to hit a 15 foot jumper is also a skill that is appreciated throughout NBA coaching staffs.

Monty Williams will surely use him and Austin Rivers well together. A Rivers/Davis PnR could potentially be deadly for the opposition if the right decisions are made. Talking to you, Austin–yup, talking to you.

June 29, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Hornets head coach Monty Williams shares a laugh with first round selections Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers during a press conference at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

My last player is Harrison Barnes. I think he’ll have a similar rookie season to Bradley Beal. He may struggle to find minutes at first because of the Warriors depth at the wing positions. They feature a lot of shooters that are similar to Barnes. However, Barnes has shown that he can be a sharp shooter as well. He’ll carve minutes out by virtue of the spot he was picked in and Dorrell Wright is with the Philadelphia 76ers. They need a new, young face to man that wing position and Barnes is it.

Stephen Curry will be a good compliment to him since he struggles to create his own shot. At UNC, Kendall Marshall was a great set-up man for Barnes as well. He’ll need Curry to play a similar role and I think he will. Curry is a high IQ basketball player and will do what it takes to win games. If he must sacrifice shots to get his teammates going, he will do so. Barnes will thrive in Golden State’s up and down style of play just as he did at UNC.

Team two

 

June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; NBA commissioner David Stern speaks during the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Now, the next crop of rookies with a lot of potential. I don’t know, I think these guys may be able to beat the first team. Take a look and see for yourself, though. Don’t let me make that decision for you.

G:Dion Waiters
G:Terrence Ross
F:Royce White
F:Donatas Motiejunas
C:Andre Drummond

Dion Waiters is going to be an excellent backcourt partner to Kyrie Irving in Cleveland. He’s not a shooter, but rather, he’s a creator. That is very hard to come by in the NBA. He plays very well in space and can score the ball at will. That’s sounds like the making of someone who will make an all-rookie team to me.

As a defender, Waiters is questionable in my opinion. I’m not saying that he’s not capable of defending, but I don’t know if he can defend most of the league’s two guards. He measures in at 6’4–that’s pretty small for a shooting guard. The best shooting guard in the NBA is that height but he’s also a freak of an athlete. Waiters has a very similar game to Wade’s, but I don’t think it will measure up to that exactly.

Overall, Waiters is a very good player. He can play multiple roles, including the point guard position, and can provide a spark off of the bench if needed. He’ll likely play starter minutes, but his talents are too good to be limited by a lack of touches. Initially, I think he’ll be relegated to a bench role just as he was in Syracuse, but it will likely change by the end of the season.

Terrence Ross is an ultra athlete that can shoot the lights out. That’s exactly what they need in Toronto. Their wing players feature a lack of shooters. You think of guys like Demar Derozan and Landry Fields who have struggled shooting in the past. Ross will likely be the cure for all of that.

It will be hard for him to carve out minutes at the shooting guard position with that depth and experience that they already have. Derozan is a project that the Raptors aren’t looking to give up on and they just paid Landry Fields a pretty hefty contract. Ross will likely see some time, but it won’t be much.

Royce White is a point forward who will also struggle to find minutes initially, but will be too talented to keep on the bench. At the three position, he’s a dominant passer and a scorer. He can give you valuable time off of the bench and you can run you’re second unit’s offense through him because of his skill. He’s like a very, very, very poor man’s LeBron James. And he also fears flying in planes, which is pretty weird.

Donatas Motiejunas is also another Houston Rockets forward. The Rockets just keep coming up here, don’t they? Well, Motiejunas is a stretch four that plays very big in the paint as well. He can take his game down to the post and also hit threes from anywhere on the floor. His defending is questionable, but he will provide the Rockets with a floor spacer and will have an effect similar to that of Steve Novak in New York with Jeremy Lin.

Andre Drummond is a huge, freak athlete weighing in at about 275 and standing at 6’11. He was highly coveted coming into last season and was considered the number one prospect in the world at one point. He’s awesome defensively and is growing offensively. If the Pistons are patient with him, he’ll end up having an immediate effect on them defensively and will also provide frontcourt support to Greg Monroe.

 

Honorable Mentions

Jared Sullinger

July 17, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger (7) drives to the basket during the game against the Chicago Bulls at the Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Jared Sullinger will be a great addition to the Boston Celtics team. With this pick, they got younger and a lot more talented. Boston’s own should make a lot of noise in the NBA.

Initially, I worry about the minutes that he will get. He won’t start over Brandon Bass and he isn’t going to start at center either. Garnett obviously has that position manned. Fab Melo is also in the equation and so is Kris Wilcox. Boston has an extremely deep frontcourt and Sullinger may struggle to get minutes as a rookie.

That doesn’t change the fact that he will be learning from one of the greatest bigs to ever play the game in Kevin Garnett. There is no doubt in my mind that he will improve dramatically from the start of the season to the end of it. He’s an excellent rebounder and is also a great post player–those are both skills that are highly valued in the NBA. If Rivers can find a spot in the rotation for him, I’m sure I’ll want to edit some of the information that was written earlier in the article.

Perry Jones

June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Perry Jones III (Baylor), right, is introduced as the number twenty-eight overall pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder by NBA commissioner David Stern during the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Though Jones was picked 28th in the draft, he was still considered the number one pick for quite some time during last years draft. Also, he was considered a top five talent in the weeks leading up to March Madness. It wasn’t until the tournament that Jones started to drop on a lot of draft boards.

When the draft finally hit, it turned out that there was a report that his meniscus wouldn’t last for three or four years in the NBA. That scared most of the NBA away from him which is why Oklahoma City chose to take a chance. They have nothing to lose in this situation and have gained a potentially great player.

Brandon Roy was an All-Star before his knee injuries. If Jones can produce anywhere relatively close to what Roy did, even if his knee doesn’t hold, I think Oklahoma City got the steal of the draft.

 

Busts…yuck…

 

Austin Rivers

Remember when I mentioned River’s earlier in this post? It wasn’t too positive. It was a shot at his decision making on offense, or lack there-of, at Duke. Rivers wasn’t the best at making decisions at Duke. That’s reflected by the fact that he had 79 turnovers to only 71 assists in 34 games. That’s pretty astounding, considering how good he is at creating open looks.

I don’t think that Rivers is a bad player either. I just don’t think that he’s being put in a situation where he’s going to be able to succeed. With Jarret Jack being traded away to Golden State, it looks like Rivers will see a lot of time at point guard this season. Especially since they chose to match Eric Gordon’s offer from the Phoenix Suns. He showed plenty of progress during the Summer League, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to play as a point guard against normal NBA competition.

Maurice Harkless

Moe Harkless gives Philadelphia more of what they already have at the wing position. Simply put: he’s an athlete at the three position and can give you occasional scoring. He isn’t as consistent in his mechanics as you’d like him to be just as Evan Turner wasn’t coming out of Ohio State, but he isn’t as good of a ball handler either.

Harkless will struggle to find minutes behind Andre Iguadola, Evan Turner, Dorrell Wright, Nick Young, and Thaddeus Young. How’d they end up with two Youngs, though? What’s up with that? Anyway, Harkless probably won’t see much time this season. That could be pretty good for him seeing as he really needs to develop his game, but I don’t think that this was a good pick for the 76ers by any means.

That’s it for my 2012-2013 draft class predictions. A lot of these guys could end up making me foolish, but hey. That’s life, right? Enjoy.

Tags: 1st Rookie Team 2012 NBA Draft Predictions Rookie Of The Year 2012

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