NBA Rookie Watch: 10/24/13
Just like we do every week, here’s a look at the way the rookie class is shaping up in terms of the Rookie of the Year race. Victor Oladipo has a put a stranglehold on this conversation based on his play in the preseason, but starting next Wednesday we’ll have real, regular season games to start using for this debate, and that’s when things get real.
Here are the current standings, including honorable mention below:
#5 – Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Currently leading all rookies in rebounds (at least for the preseason), Adams is also scoring 7.3 PPG on 61.3 percent shooting from the floor. Kendrick Perkins and Hasheem Thabeet are not helpful for this team offensively, particularly in the paint, which is why Adams is such a perfect fit for the Thunder. As he continues to earn the coaching staff’s trust, he should get more minutes and a bigger opportunity to really contribute to an offense that will need help, particularly while Russell Westbrook gets himself healthy.
#4 – Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
Carter-Williams, predictably, is not shooting the ball well, but is really Philadelphia’s only point guard and so should get plenty of time to develop and grow over the course of the season. He’s currently at 33 percent from the field and 27 percent from three, but he’ll probably be at the top of the list for rookies in terms of minutes and assists. We can only assume he’s one of the “Six NBA Players” Brett Brown thinks he has on his team. Also a strong sign: he’s only got seven turnovers in first five preseason games.
#3 – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
Zeller didn’t get off to a great start this preseason, averaging only six points and 4.7 rebounds in his first three games, but he has been better of late, averaging 12 points and 7.5 rebounds over his last two preseason contests. With Al Jefferson missing as much time as he has during training camp, it would have been nice to see Zeller be a little more effective, but it looks like he’s catching on, and he should be one of the better rookies this upcoming season.
#2 – Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
As we’ve said all preseason, McLemore is going to be off and on throughout 2013-14, but his flashes of brilliance are going to be pretty impressive. He’s great off the ball and is going to do a ton of scoring this year, which should give him a prime opportunity to end up on the All-Rookie First Team before this thing is all said and done. He’s also pretty fun to watch when he’s hot, and when “NBA Inside Stuff” comes back this year, his athleticism should be on fine display in the resurgence of Jam Session.
#1 – Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Vegas odds for Oladipo to win the Rookie of the Year trophy are currently 12/5, which means the people in charge of making sure casinos make money aren’t going to let you bring home any easy cash on the young Magic guard. In 27 minutes per preseason contest, Oladipo is averaging 14.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG, all of which still doesn’t take into account his athleticism, leadership and calming presence in the locker room. This kid is on the upward swing and has been for the better part of the last year. There’s a reason he’s moving up fantasy basketball drafts the last week or two, and that ADP will climb all the way to opening night. This kid is absolutely for real. Magic fans are in for an entertaining season.
Tim Hardaway, Jr., New York Knicks
Hardaway leads all rookies in three-pointers, having hit 14-of-33 in preseason, but it may be hard to find minutes behind J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Woodson wants to get him on the floor, though, and he’s certainly talented enough to contribute.
Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers
It’s probably safe to expect some inconsistency from Bennett this year, but he will absolutely have some big games along the way. He can shoot from all over, including from three (7-of-20 in preseason), but needs work on inside game. He also fouls a lot, but that’s something he’ll likely fix with experience.
Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
Before everything is all said and done, he’ll be in the Rookie of the Year conversation. He hasn’t had as strong a preseason as he did Summer League, but he shoots a high percentage and will almost certainly get decent minutes. There’s still a lot to like here.
Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks
Schroder has been a little banged up in the preseason, but he has absolutely had his shining moments. He should help tempo the offense off the bench, though his outside shot needs a ton of work. A poor man’s Rajon Rondo is a fair comparison for now.
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.