NBA Rookies 2011: Top 10 Rookie Impact Players

Francisco RiveraCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2012

NBA Rookies 2011: Top 10 Rookie Impact Players

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    1. Kyrie Irving: Cleveland Caveliers

    In just over 25 minutes a game, the Cavalier rookie is looking steady and primed to shine brightly for years to come.

    His 15 points and five assists with no real training camp is a sign that Irving might have plenty in store for opposing guards. He finishes extremely well around the basket with either hand and rarely looks rattled on the hardwood.  

    What separates him from last year's No. 1 pick John Wall is that Irving plays a steadier brand of basketball, and he is a more accomplished shooter whereas Wall is the better athlete. 

    Once he figures out how his game and skill set can succeed in the NBA, his numbers should see a nice boost.

    He's not a lock for Rookie of The Year but if his numbers rise to 18 points and seven assists, it will be hard to deny the former Duke star his first award in the league.

Tricky Ricky

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    2. Ricky Rubio: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Few players have come into the league with so many question marks as well as so much notoriety.

    Rubio has such a good feel for the game that it makes up for his questionable shooting and finishing skills. His passing was well known prior to entering the league and he has not disappointed, as his seven-plus dimes have shown. He has the potential to average at least 10 assists this year.

    Considered a poor shooter, Rubio is shooting about 50 percent from three point range while averaging about 10 points a game so far this year. Though not an elite athlete, Rubio is a big, fast point guard who is showing the ability to play on both sides of the court.

    At 6'4", he has shown the ability to rebound and gather steals, and that will go along way towards gaining more minutes and a resulting spike in his stats.

More Heat in Maimi

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    3. Norris Cole: Miami Heat

    The Heat saw something special in Norris Cole.

    They let veteran Eddie House walk with the anticipation that Cole would be able to provide the team with the same skill set as House and then some. The Cleveland State product has been a pleasant surprise to the organization with his shooting and defense. So far this season, Cole has averaged over ten points and four assists.

    His steady play has been a blessing for the Heat, a team in dire need of solid depth or a new starting point guard. At Cleveland State, Nole was an explosive scorer and leader, and these attributes have transferred over nicely into the big show.

    Cole has been very consistent in just over 20 minutes of play, and with the season packed with games, the Heat might have found their point guard of the future.

Fearless and Hungry

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    4. Iman Shumpert: New York Knicks

    Knicks fans were not enamored with the team's choice of the 6'5", 220-lb Georgia Tech product on Draft day. It's amazing how in two weeks of an NBA season things change drastically.

    After getting a taste of what Shumpert could do on the Garden Floor, the roar of " WE WANT SHUMPERT" blared throughout the newly renovated Garden until his coach figured out to put him back on the court.

    A powerfully built and ultra athletic 21-year-old, Shumpert, with his cat-like quickness has been able to defend the opposition's quickest players with solid results. He is averaging over 13 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and almost two and a half steals.

    Shumpert, a Chicago native, has shown a scowl on the floor that I haven't seen since Patrick Ewing and Bernard King. 

    He plays the game with great confidence and if his body holds up, he will make a solid run at the ROY award as he has become the full-time starter already.

    Knicks fans should rejoice at the new kid in town...his name is Iman Shumpert.  

Deron's Williams Future Wingman

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    5. Marshon Brooks; NJ Nets

    Marshon warranted the attention of NBA scouts after scoring over 50 points in a college game while at Providence, and he has continued his scoring ways in the NBA.

    In 25 minutes this year Brooks is putting up over 14 points a game while shooting almost 50 percent from the field. An injured ankle slowed him a bit, but he has scored over 17 points in six of his first nine games.

    The lanky 6'5" scorer will remind some of Jamal Crawford without the fancy dribbling displays before his shot attempts.

    At 25, the Nets have themselves a possible steal if his defensive game develops like his offensive game has so far.  

A Shining Knight in Detroit?

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    6. Brandon Knight: Detroit Pistons

    Having just turned 20-years-old, Brandon Knight is being thrown into the fire in his first year in the NBA.

    It's being done for a good reason as Knight has shown the ability to score and break down defenders off the dribble. He is getting the lion's share of minutes in Motown and has given his team a glimpse of what their new shoot-first point guard is capable of.

    Knight has surprisingly been an efficient rebounder for a guard as he averaged almost five boards in his second week of the season, improving his overall total to almost four a game.

    His 11.4 points per game is currently third on the team, showing the team wants him in this role until they figure out what to do with logjam of point guards that Detroit currently employs.  

Twin Billing

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    7. Markieff Morris: Phoenix Suns

    One of the bigger surprises in the league, the more unheralded twin has shined brightly for his new team so far.

    Morris has the ability to become a solid stretch four with some bonus skills. His mid-range game is solid and has shown little fear towards his competition. 

    Morris seems to have a fire to want to be great—his efforts on the courts have not gone unnoticed. At 6'10" and 245lbs, Morris has the size and the will to defend in the post.

    With Steve Nash delivering passes for the rookie, he should be able to continue his growth into a premier-type player. 

The Bronx Is Here

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    8. Kemba Walker

    The six-foot rookie has played much bigger than his frame shows.

    GM Michael Jordan knew what he was getting in Walker, which is an ultra quick attack mode guard who might look out of control at times. Walker has seen his point total in games hit a high of 19 points and sink down to two points. Has averaged 10 points in just 20 minutes a game. 

    Walker has shown the willingness to defend as well as break down defenses off the dribble. He will have to learn how to deal with getting posted up until his strength increases. As he becomes more comfortable with the NBA game, he will experience similar success as his college days.

    Walker's confidence will never be his weakness and the fire he plays with is just what the team and MJ will enjoy most. 

Parsons on the Rise!

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    9. Chandler Parson: Rockets

    The Florida product has surprised many with his play so far this season.

    The multi-skilled big man has recently supplanted Chase Buddinger and lottery pick Marcus Morris. The 6'10" small forward has used his unique skill set to get him starter-like minutes in the last week. His breakout game versus the Hornets saw him score 20 points and seven rebounds.

    He was a versatile player in college who showcased his ability to handle the rock as well as pass it. If he continues to produce, he might be able to hold onto the small forward spot. 

In Tobias We Trust

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    Sleeper on the Rise

    10. Tobias Harris: Bucks

    Just off the IR and signed to his new team, Harris has made it known he is here to stay.

    The 19-year-old hasn't been shy on the court. He has used his strong basketball IQ to make his rounds on the court and become a solid contributor.

    His stats won't blow you away, but he does many things well on the hardwood and that should warrant him some more playing time as the season progresses. Solid ball-handling skills will allow him to get by bigger defenders.