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NBA Rookie Watch: 10/16/13
Posted By Joel Brigham On October 17, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Last week we began our year-long series on the league’s top rookies as they play their way towards the Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season. It’s still early, but here are the early favorites to win the accolade, based on another week’s worth of preseason games:
#5 – Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
We’ve known all along that opportunity would give Carter-Williams a decent shot at being among the highest-producing rookies, but early in his NBA career he looks like he will be a solid playmaker for a team that is going to need all the offensive help it can get. He will not score a lot of points, and he will turn the ball over a ton, but through four preseason games he’s averaging five assists per contest and has looked like a strong leader.
#4 – Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers
The preseason started slowly for the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, but things have gotten quite a bit more interesting in the last week, as Bennett had a coming out party of sorts in a home preseason game against the Orlando Magic. Bennett finished the game having scored 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting, but what was most impressive was that 14 of those came in the fourth quarter. He showed off his offensive range, knocking down shots from all over the place, including a couple of three-pointers. At times he has rebounded well, too, showing that he could be every bit as good as his draft position suggests.
#3 – Tim Hardaway, Jr., New York Knicks
Left off of last week’s list because he hadn’t yet played a full preseason game, Hardaway has proven in his first three preseason appearances that he’ll likely be a mainstay in this column all year. His debut against the Boston Celtics was pristine, as he scored 16 points and hit a game-winning jumper in the game’s final seconds, but the following two games have been just as interesting. Hardaway’s second go-round included scoring 13 points (including three 3-pointers) on 5-of-11 shooting, while his third appearance was far from efficient (3-for-16 from the field) but involved him getting his first start of the preseason. Especially early in the season, while J.R. Smith is serving his five-game suspension, expect Hardaway to get some reasonable minutes. If he plays well enough in his audition, it’s very easy to see him becoming an integral part of the Knicks’ rotation.
#2 – Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
If McLemore continues to score with the variety and efficiency that he’s exhibited in the preseason, he’s going to be a very strong candidate for the Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season. Without question, he looks like the franchise cornerstone shooting guard the Kings have been chasing in the lottery for half a decade. Through three games, McLemore is averaging 10.7 ppg and 4.3 rpg, while knocking down 6-for-13 three-pointers. He’s still raw and in need of some requisite seasoning, but by midseason he should be among Sacramento’s top two or three scorers.
#1 – Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Last week, Oladipo was rated as the top rookie despite not having played a preseason game yet. This week, with three of them under his belt, absolutely nothing has changed anyone’s mind that he’ll be among the top freshmen in the league this year. In his debut, Oladipo scored 10 points, dished out nine assists, hauled in five rebounds, and swiped away four steals, all in fewer than 25 minutes of preseason action coming off the Orlando bench. He followed that up with 18 points and eight boards in almost 30 reserve minutes, and by game three he was starting, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with four assists and two steals. Through three games, he’s averaging 13.3 points, 8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2 steals, all while shooting 51.7 percent from the field. Those are great numbers for a rookie guard, clearly, and it’s going to be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup for long this season if he keeps that up.
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats – Without Al Jefferson, one would expect Zeller to do more with the offensive touches he’s been given. He’s going to be a good rebounder, but so far offensively he hasn’t been as good as advertised.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns – There’s a good chance Len will rise up these ranks as the season progresses, but he didn’t play in Summer League and is showing signs of rust early in the preseason.
Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder – He likely won’t get huge minutes this season, but Oklahoma City needs his offense inside. Luckily for them, Adams has shined in that regard so far.
Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics – It’s hard to know what kind of minutes this Summer League star will get in Boston’s crowded frontcourt, but having averaged 14 points in his last two preseason games, it’s pretty obvious that with decent minutes will also come very solid production. Olynyk is still a dark horse favorite to win Rookie of the Year.
Dennis Schroeder, Atlanta Hawks – That last-second shot in Schroeder’s second preseason game was notable, but this young man isn’t going to be big scorer. He will, however, be a very good point guard, and he’s already shown flashes of that in the preseason.
As always, visit the comments section to add any other rookies you think deserves consideration this early on, and make sure you check back every Wednesday night for the latest updates to the rankings.
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