NBA Report Cards: Grades for Every Key Rookie Through First Quarter of Season

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2012

NBA Report Cards: Grades for Every Key Rookie Through First Quarter of Season

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    Now that we're a quarter of the way through the 2011-2012 NBA season, let's take a look at how the newest class of rookies has performed thus far. 

    Using my preseason projections for the players as a starting point, I've provided grades for each of the rookies who have played an average of 15 minutes or more per game. 

    Please keep in mind that these "rankings" are merely rankings for the grades that I've given them. And as for those grades, they're scaled according to the original expectations associated with each player. 

    Read on for the players and grades. 

20. Jimmer Fredette

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    Team: Sacramento Kings

    College: BYU

    Preseason Projections: 14.1 points, 3.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 7.6 points, 2.1 assists, 1.5 rebounds per game

    PER: 8.99


    Jimmer Fredette has been awful this season. 

    I don't want to talk about it. 


    Grade: F

19. Darius Morris

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    College: Michigan

    Preseason Projections: 8.4 points, 5.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 3.6 points, 1.6 assists, 1.7 rebounds per game

    PER: 4.45


    Darius Morris started the season behind Andrew Goudelock in the Los Angeles Lakers backcourt, but the team seems to be realizing the error in its ways. Now, Morris is actually starting to find himself on the court. 

    Unfortunately for the purple and gold, though, he's been terrible on the court thus far. Morris is shooting only 40 percent from the field, and he has a ridiculous 1.6 turnovers per game in just over 17 minutes of action. 


    Grade: C-

18. Brandon Knight

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    Team: Detroit Pistons

    College: Kentucky

    Preseason Projections: 11.8 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 12.5 points, 3.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game

    PER: 11.07


    Brandon Knight probably made the right decision coming out of college early because his draft stock would never have gotten any higher if he'd stayed. That said, he entered the NBA as an incredibly raw prospect. 

    Now that he's been immediately thrust into a prominent role, Knight looks worse than he actually is. So far, he's played terribly, shooting poorly from the field and averaging 3.2 turnovers per game. 


    Grade: C-

17. Jeremy Pargo

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    College: Gonzaga

    Preseason Projections: N/A

    Current Stats: 4.5 points, 2.5 assists, 1.3 rebounds per game

    PER: 7.51


    After going undrafted out of Gonzaga in 2009, Jeremy Pargo decided to play overseas rather than make his living in the D-League.

    After spending the 2009-2010 season with Hapoel Gilboa Galil Elyon and the 2010-2011 campaign with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, the former Bulldog finally made his way into the NBA. 

    Now, Pargo actually has a surprisingly large role with the Memphis Grizzlies. He hasn't shot the ball well at all, and his defense has been, well, lacking. But at least he's in the NBA. 


    Grade: C

16. Chris Singleton

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    Team: Washington Wizards

    College: Florida State

    Preseason Projections: 4.3 points, 0.3 assists, 2.1 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 5.1 points, 0.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds per game

    PER: 10.15


    I've had quite a few people tell me that Chris Singleton looks really good during his rookie season. Really? Have we been watching the same forward for the Washington Wizards? 

    Singleton has been terrible this season. He just looks better because of the putridity of the rest of his team. 

    The former Florida State Seminole has shot fairly efficiently from the field, but he's not really taking many attempts. Then again, he was drafted for his defensive abilities, not his offensive prowess. 

    With a defensive rating of 104, Singleton has been only slightly better than average on the defensive end of the court. Sure, he's stealing the ball 1.2 times per game, but there's more to defense than just that one number. 


    Grade: C

15. Klay Thompson

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    College: Washington State

    Preseason Projections: 4.3 points, 1.1 assists, 0.8 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 6.7 points, 1.5 assists, 1.5 rebounds per game

    PER: 9.78


    Klay Thompson's long-range jumper has been clicking for him—45.5 percent from downtown—through the first quarter of the season, but that's about it. 

    The former Washington State guard's field-goal percentage is still only 42.9 percent, and he isn't doing much else. You can chalk up the 1.5 rebounds per game to the fact that he's 6'7" and unfairly tall for a guard. 


    Grade: C

14. Josh Harrellson

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    Team: New York Knicks

    College: Kentucky

    Preseason Projections: 3.2 points, 0.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 5.3 points, 0.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds per game

    PER: 12.52


    Josh Harrellson never even received much playing time for the Kentucky Wildcats, so it's a bit surprising that he's gotten a significant amount of run with the New York Knicks. Usually, it just doesn't work that way. 

    Harrellson, as was expected, hasn't panned out too well. While he hasn't shot tremendously, or even decently, the former Wildcat has been a force on the glass while he's on the court. 


    Grade: C+

13. Iman Shumpert

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    Team: New York Knicks

    College: Georgia Tech

    Preseason Projections: 2.6 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists per game

    Current Stats: 12.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists per game

    PER: 12.61


    Iman Shumpert was incredibly raw coming out of Georgia Tech and shouldn't have been thought of as anything more than a seldom-used backup guard. But the New York Knicks clearly don't listen to my advice, as they've been giving Shumpert 32.5 minutes per game. 

    Don't be deceived by Shumpert's 12.3 points per game, as he's shooting way too much to get those points, as evidenced by his 38.4 percent from the field on 12.2 field-goal attempts per contest. 

    Just look at Shumpert's PER of 12.61, and you'll realize that he hasn't even been a league-average player. 

    He's going to improve (see the rawness I talked about in the beginning of this description), but he's been pretty awful so far. 


    Grade: B-

12. Tristan Thompson

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    College: Texas

    Preseason Projections: 6.5 points, 0.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 8.0 points, 0.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds per game

    PER: 14.31


    Right after Tristan Thompson was drafted fourth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 NBA draft, I asked a simple question: "Why exactly did this guy get drafted so early?"

    I'm still waiting on the answer. 


    Grade: B-

11. Norris Cole

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    Team: Miami Heat

    College: Cleveland State

    Preseason Projections: 5.1 points, 1.6 assists, 1.2 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 8.8 points, 2.8 assists, 1.6 rebounds per game

    PER: 11.09


    Norris Cole is a guy that I liked a lot going at Cleveland State, but I didn't expect him to get much playing time while Mario Chalmers was running the show in South Beach. 

    Cole has had a few dynamic performances during the first quarter of his rookie season, but he's shooting 41 percent from the field and has two turnovers per game in just over 20 minutes per contest. 

    Even though his spot on the Miami Heat has made him into a recognized name, he just hasn't been that good. 


    Grade: B-

10. Derrick Williams

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    College: Arizona

    Preseason Projections: 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists per game

    Current Stats: 7.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists per game

    PER: 15.90


    Derrick Williams hasn't exactly lived up to his status as the reigning No. 2 pick in the NBA draft.

    He's been good but not great, despite what the ridiculous amount of Ricky Rubio to Williams highlights would have us believe. 

    Gone from his game is the trademark efficiency that carried him at the University of Arizona. Williams is shooting just 42.1 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from downtown while turning the ball over more often than he's racked up assists. 


    Grade: B-

9. Markieff Morris

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    College: Kansas

    Preseason Projections: 7.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

    Current Stats: 7.7 points, 4.9 rebinds, 1.1 assists per game

    PER: 13.66


    Markieff Morris was deemed as one of the most NBA-ready players in the 2011 rookie class, which made it fairly easy to predict how well he'd play during his rookie campaign. 

    The former Kansas Jayhawk has overcome the separation from his twin and carved out a larger role for himself with the Phoenix Suns.

    Despite his recent slump, Morris is still averaging respectable numbers. 


    Grade: B

8. Kemba Walker

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    Team: Charlotte Bobcats

    College: Connecticut 

    Preseason Projections: 15.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists per game

    Current Stats: 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game

    PER: 15.21


    Kemba Walker was my preseason pick for Rookie of the Year, but that's not looking likely now that Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio have exceeded expectations and then some. 

    The former Connecticut standout struggled to start the year, but he still put together a number of "how did he do that?" plays in his brief time on the court.

    Since becoming a starter, he's been much better for the Charlotte Bobcats.


    Grade: B

7. Kawhi Leonard

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    College: San Diego State

    Preseason Projections: 6.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game

    Current Stats: 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists per game

    PER: 15.30


    Never doubt any player decision that the San Antonio Spurs make. 

    Going into the 2011 NBA draft, I thought Kawhi Leonard and his massive hand size would quickly become a bust thanks to his ability to do everything well and nothing extraordinarily well. 

    But the former San Diego State Aztec has quickly carved out a role for the Spurs off the bench and has played admirably in limited minutes. 


    Grade: B+

6. Chandler Parsons

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    College: Florida

    Preseason Projections: 6.5 points, 1.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 6.9 points, 1.3 assists, 5.5 rebounds per game

    PER: 15.20


    Chandler Parsons is an example of a player who is versatile enough that he's going to get on the court no matter what. 

    Even though he's only playing 22 minutes per game, Parsons is contributing in almost every category and quickly making a name for himself within the Houston Rockets organization. 

    He still needs a haircut, though. 


    Grade: A-

5. Jon Leuer

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    Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    College: Wisconsin

    Preseason Projections: 6.5 points, 1.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 6.6 points, 0.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds per game

    PER: 17.66


    Jon Leuer is doing exactly what I expected from him during his rookie season. 

    The former Wisconsin Badger is playing incredibly efficiently, shooting over 50 percent from the field (with contributions coming from both inside and outside) and almost 90 percent from the charity stripe. Plus, he's not turning the ball over. 


    Grade: A-

4. Nikola Vucevic

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    College: USC

    Preseason Projections: 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists per game

    Current Stats: 5.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists per game

    PER: 18.11


    On court for just 15.3 minutes per game, Nikola Vucevic barely made it onto this list. But now that he did, I get to say some good things about him. 

    The true seven-footer from USC has been terrific in his relief role for the Philadelphia 76ers. He's shooting 53.3 percent from the field and grabbing an insane number of rebounds in such a limited amount of action. 

    His PER is fourth among all rookies, which is pretty impressive for someone drafted outside of the lottery. 


    Grade: A

3. Kyrie Irving

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    College: Duke

    Preseason Projections: 12.3 points, 4.8 assists, 2.0 rebounds per game

    Current Stats: 17.4 points, 4.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds per game

    PER: 21.28


    The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, Kyrie Irving was supposed to be good. He just wasn't supposed to be this good right away. 

    Irving has been dynamic on both ends of the court and has already become one of the better point guards in the entire NBA.

    In fact, only eight point guards have a higher PER than the rookie for the Cleveland Cavaliers. 


    Grade: A+

2. MarShon Brooks

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    Team: New Jersey Nets

    College: Providence

    Preseason Projections: 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game

    Current Stats: 15.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game

    PER: 19.52


    I was higher on MarShon Brooks than almost anyone going into this season, placing him third on my preseason rankings of all 60 rookies drafted in the 2011 NBA draft. 

    He's exceeded even my lofty expectations and has become the New Jersey Nets' second-best player while reminding people of a young Kobe Bryant


    Grade: A+

1. Ricky Rubio

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    College: N/A

    Preseason Projections: N/A

    Current Stats: 11.0 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds per game

    PER: 18.59


    Ricky Rubio has been absolutely sensational during the first quarter of his rookie season. He's proven all the doubters wrong (myself included) and then rubbed their noses in the dirt while they're down. 

    Plus, he's actually made the Minnesota Timberwolves watchable. 


    Grade: A+