Final NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings
The NBA regular season is coming to a close, and we've witnessed a great deal transpire in this lockout-shortened season.
This whirlwind of a season has been an interesting way for rookies to grow acclimated to life in the NBA. Despite the grueling schedule, a handful of rookies have stepped to the forefront of this year's class.
In this bunch, there are some unforeseen players who have emerged as promising contributors for their ballclubs. What's more, some of these players have superstar-caliber potential.
Let's cut to the chase.
Here are the final NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings for the 2011-2012 season.
Honorable Mention Slide
Here are five honorable mention players who raised eyebrows this season but still have areas to work on before they're situated next to those in the top 10.
Derrick Williams (F, Minnesota, 8.9 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game)
Brandon Knight (PG, Detroit, 12.9 PPG, 3.8 assists per game)
Bismack Biyombo (C, Charlotte, 5.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.8 blocks per game)
Gustavo Ayon (PF, New Orleans, 5.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG)
Tristan Thompson (PF, Cleveland, 8.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 BPG)
10. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
Stats: 12.2 PPG (37 percent from the field), 4.4 APG, 3.5 APG, 0.9 steals per game
Kemba Walker may be the lone bright spot for the atrocious Bobcats. He's incredibly speedy and has the ability to both create for himself and others.
He's impressed in his rookie year, but it's unlikely he'll ever jump into the league's upper echelon of point guards.
With that said, he has the tools to be a starting point guard for years, and he would greatly benefit from the Bobcats making significant upgrades to their roster (landing Anthony Davis with the No. 1 pick would be a great start).
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 14.8 PPG (41 percent from the field), 6.1 APG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 SPG
9. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
Stats: 9.6 PPG (39.7 percent from the field), 3.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.7 SPG
Iman Shumpert's numbers aren't as impressive as some of the players left off this list, but his value can often not be located on the stat sheet.
Shumpert has emerged as a lockdown perimeter defender and gives the Knicks a weapon to pester the elite guards of the league (e.g. Derrick Rose).
There are still some questions surrounding Shumpert. Is he better suited as a point or off-guard? How will his game develop offensively?
No matter what, Shumpert has revealed that he's a face we will get to know very well in the coming years. His versatility makes him highly valuable, and if his offensive game matures, he holds a scary future for the Knicks' Eastern Conference foes.
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 11.3 PPG (44.3 percent from the field), 4.3 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.0 SPG
8. MarShon Brooks, New Jersey Nets
Stats: 12.7 PPG (43.3 percent from the field), 3.6 RPG, 2.4 APG
MarShon Brooks has revealed some offensive potency in his rookie campaign, as evidenced by his 12.7 PPG average. He would be listed higher if he were playing for a quality team, but his numbers have surely benefited from playing for subpar New Jersey, where he's become one of its more featured players.
The question with Brooks is, what is his ceiling? Is he merely developing into another Nick Young? Or in a few years, will his numbers look more comparable to Joe Johnson?
It will be interesting to see the strides Brooks makes. If he works hard enough, he could soon become a perennial 20 PPG scorer.
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 15.8 PPG (44.1 percent from the field), 4.0 RPG, 3.1 APG
7. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Stats: 10.6 PPG (35.7 percent from the field), 8.2 APG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 SPG
Despite the injury, there's no way he should be left off this list. Rubio was beginning to dazzle NBA fans and has the "next Steve Nash" written all over him.
If Rubio can return well from his injury and stay healthy throughout his career, he could potentially become the best rookie in this year's class. His talent is that good, and his upside is that high.
Predicted Numbers for Next Year: 12.0 PPG (40 percent from the field), 9.5 APG, 4.5 RPG, 2.2 SPG
6. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Stats: 12.4 PPG (44.4 percent from the field), 2.4 RPG, 2.0 APG
Klay Thompson has quietly had a stellar year for the Golden State Warriors. His length (6'7'') and perimeter scoring ability make him a very difficult matchup for opponents.
Thompson has especially raised eyebrows in the last couple months, mainly due to the fact that Monta Ellis was traded and Thompson has been receiving much more playing time.
He hasn't disappointed. In the month of March Thompson averaged 16.4 PPG, and in April he posted 18.7 PPG.
It's safe to say that the Warriors have a blossoming star in Thompson. He has all the tools to become an All-Star shooting guard.
Predicted Numbers for Next Year: 18.1 PPG (44.5 percent from the field), 3.7 RPG, 2.9 APG
5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Stats: 7.9 PPG (49.3 percent from the field), 5.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG
Kawhi Leonard's numbers are not overly eye-opening, but similar to Shumpert, his value doesn't always show up on the stat sheet.
Leonard is developing into a "coach's dream" for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Leonard is already emerging into a formidable perimeter defender, and he's also shown remarkable maturity on the offensive end.
Plus, while Leonard may not be tallying lofty scoring numbers, his stats are highly efficient. He's shooting close to 50 percent from the field and has become a reliable rebounder.
Most importantly, he's playing a significant role for a team that has a legitimate chance to win the title. He's the only rookie who can say that.
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 13.1 PPG (48.9 percent from the field), 7.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG
4. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings
Stats: 11.5 PPG (44.4 percent from the field), 4.0 APG, 2.6 RPG, 0.8 SPG
Isaiah Thomas was the last overall selection in the 2011 draft, and it's only natural to think of all the general managers who are kicking themselves for passing on the 5'9'' guard.
Thomas' play has not only placed famed rookie Jimmer Fredette on the bench, but it also raised questions about Tyreke Evans' (2010 Rookie of the Year) future in Sacramento.
It's safe to say that Thomas has made some major statements with his play in the past couple months. He may be small, but his game is big. It's hard to know how high his ceiling is, but he's already proved plenty of people wrong, so don't be surprised to see Thomas develop into an All-Star.
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 15.5 PPG, 6.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG
3. Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
Stats: 9.5 PPG (45.2 percent from the field), 4.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Chandler Parsons, like Thomas, was a second-round pick who surely has general managers who passed on him puzzled. He's surprised many by becoming perhaps the most versatile rookie in the league.
He contributes in a bevy of ways, and his flashes of potential should lead to a solidified role next season and beyond.
Expect him to develop into a consistent, potent threat on both ends of the floor. He's certainly a quality piece for the Rockets' starting lineup.
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 12.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.9 BPG
2. Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
Stats: 10.1 PPG (58.5 percent from the field), 7.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 0.8 SPG
Kenneth Faried has played beastly in the past couple months. His defensive and rebounding abilities warrant any comparisons to Dennis Rodman.
What's more, he's shown some offense sprinkled in beside his remarkable defense.
Faried's all-around potential is staggering, and he'll almost surely average a double-double, most likely beginning next year.
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 12.4 PPG (57.8 percent from the field), 11.4 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 1.3 SPG
1. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Stats: 18.8 PPG (46.8 percent from the field), 5.5 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG
There's not much debate who the top rookie is. Kyrie Irving has been sensational and has given Cleveland fans bright hope for the future.
It will be interesting to see how fast Irving continues to develop. Will he jump into the league's upper echelon of point guards in the next couple seasons? It's certainly possible, as his rookie numbers are actually more impressive than what Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook recorded as rookies.
Irving's already an All-Star-caliber player, and his potential remains through the roof. His face is something we should grow familiar with, because he's a budding NBA superstar.
Predicted Numbers for Next Season: 22.3 PPG (45.7 percent from the field), 6.7 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG