Ranking the 5 Best NBA Rookies

Darryl FetzCorrespondent IIFebruary 11, 2012

Ranking the 5 Best NBA Rookies

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    While the 2011 NBA draft class was supposed to be lackluster, it has produced quality players who are currently making an impact on the league. 

    With the shortened season, teams are playing games at a frenzied speed and even some veteran players can not keep up, so some rookies are having a tough time adapting to the NBA.

    The rookies on this list, however, have shown both promise for the future, and the skill to affect the league right now.

5. Iman Shumpert

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    After being booed by the New York fans at the NBA draft, Iman Shumpert has settled in nicely with the Knicks rotation.

    After being asked to play point guard for the first part of the season, the emergence of Jeremy Lin as the starting point guard has allowed Shumpert to move back to his natural spot as a 2-guard. Shumpert works best playing off the ball, when he scans the floor for open areas to cut into, so Lin's progression as a point guard will only help Shumpert.

    Shumpert currently ranks fourth on the Knicks with 10.2 points per game, and is tied for second on the team with 3.5 assists per game. While he has shown the tools to succeed, Shumpert must improve his long-range shooting to be a truly effective player.

4. MarShon Brooks

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    After being compared to a young Kobe Bryant in pre-draft workouts, MarShon Brooks started the season on fire, averaging 14.8 PPG with only 1.4 turnovers a game.

    The honeymoon period ended, however, as Brooks broke his right pinkie toe and has been out the past six games. The fact that he is still on this list after not playing in the past six games is a testament to the work he put in early in the season, and the promise he shows for the future. 

    While the New Jersey Nets have been marred in another losing season, the move to Brooklyn is looking better with the scoring of Brooks helping to lead the way.

3. Kemba Walker

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    Although the Charlotte Bobacts are in last place in the NBA, Kemba Walker has been one of the brighter spots. Averaging 12.4 points per game, Walker has teamed with D.J. Augustin to make a backcourt that the Bobcats can build around. 

    Walker has been relying on his pull-up jumper this season, so assuming that he can keep up the solid shooting, he should be a cornerstone of the Bobcats for a long time.

    Walker makes this list over Brandon Knight, who has similar scoring numbers, but who has struggled to hang onto the ball at times this season and is giving away too many turnovers. 

2. Ricky Rubio

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    With the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Ricky Rubio from Spain, and many suspected that he would never play a NBA game

    Three years later, Rubio is fourth in the NBA in assists, and is chipping in with 10.9 PPG as well. Another impressive aspect of his game has been his emergence as one of the better defensive guards in the league, despite his short stature. 

    He is electrifying crowds across the NBA with his fancy passing and seems to be the perfect compliment to Kevin Love, both of whom should make the Timberwolves into a contender in the next few years.

1. Kyrie Irving

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    Kyrie Irving's limited playing time at Duke had even the biggest believer a little skeptical, but he has proven all his doubters wrong through the first half of the year. The former No. 1 pick ranks first in rookie scoring with 18.0 PPG.

    Irving has shown a great ability to get to the rim and score, but even more impressive has been his passing and jump shooting. Not known as a passer, he is averaging 5.1 assists per game, good for second behind only Rubio in rookie assists. 

    Some around the league considered Irving to be playing at an All-Star level, and even though he did not make the team, he is by far the best rookie in the league.