Austin Rivers was one of several players whose names caused fans to get excited when they were announced by David Stern on Thursday during the 2012 NBA draft. Rivers is one spectacular scorer. That trait will make a huge difference for the offensively challenged New Orleans Hornets.
Rivers is one of many players teams will be counting upon to be difference makers right away. Lottery teams will be looking to players they drafted in the first round to help turn things around. Some will be expected to make an all-around impact, while others will be expected to bump the team up in specific areas.
Following are the players who will help their teams out the most as rookies.
Most fans were unaware of Andrew Nicholson before the draft, and very few were before he nearly led St. Bonaventure to upset Florida State in the NCAA tournament. Still, the big man who wore Franciscan brown for four years is more than just a mid-major star.
Nicholson is a true all-around talent. He can hit three-pointers, outside twos and bang it down low to dump it in with a soft touch. Also, Nicholson plays above the rim in a special way. He'll throw it down in traffic or run ahead in transition and blast an electric dunk in the hole.
For a Magic team facing uncertainty with Dwight Howard trade rumors and the free agency possibilities with Ryan Anderson and Jameer Nelson, Nicholson ensures some of the athletic scoring it needs.
Nicholson will come out and be an immediate starter, helping pace the Magic offense and reduce the scoring burden on Howard if he's back next season.
The first pick the Hornets made in Thursday's draft, Anthony Davis, might have been the one more people have talked about, but Austin Rivers will be the game-changer in 2012-13 for the team. Rivers' scoring ability will transition more quickly than that of Davis.
Rivers has more tools with which he can blow up opposing defenses. He can work isolation situations, play off pick-and-rolls and drive off the dribble, among other things. For Davis, it's basically about dunking.
Also, Rivers is more ready physically to be effective at his position than Davis. At 6'5" and 203 pounds, Rivers has just what it takes to be strong for a 2-guard, even while he'll continue to mature physically. Davis, who's a tame 222 pounds while standing 6'10" and maintaining a 7'5" wingspan, has much growing to do to be a strong power forward.
Whether Davis can put up a fight against veteran big men is questionable.
Rivers will be able to score in bunches as a rookie. Watching him take passes from Jarrett Jack will be interesting. Also, seeing the type of tantamount scoring duo that he and Eric Gordon can create will be exciting to say the least.
The son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be a high impact scorer from day one without a doubt.
There's not much keeping Tyler Zeller from being a starter immediately for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anderson Varejao played just 56 games last year, and one can't rule out the possibility that the Brazilian center will be plagued with injuries once again.
Zeller will quickly replace Varejao as the Cavaliers' front man. He possesses the athleticism and scoring ability that Varejao lacks. Also, he rebounds just as well as Varejao.
Zeller is an excellent athlete who shoots well and plays well off the ball. He isn't a classic post player, but he takes fouls like a real big man and hits his shots when he reaches the line.
The Cavaliers needed more than anything else a player who would bring the scoring to complement Kyrie Irving. The team found that in Zeller. From the start, Cleveland fans will enjoy seeing Zeller stack up points.
The Sacramento Kings have toiled in vain for the last six years, rebuilding with bits of talent here and there. They've slowly assembled a talented group with DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Travis Outlaw and Isaiah Thomas.
With the selection of Thomas Robinson at No. 5, the Kings have the full package to be a competitive team. Robinson is a solid player on both ends. He's a dynamic inside scorer who should be able to develop an ability to iron out his moves to be a smooth shooter near the rim.
On the boards, Robinson has all the tools to be a rapacious threat. He'll scoop up rebounds with his great wingspan and strong hands. His overall strength is too impressive to believe he could lose many battles in the post. Also, he's extremely competitive, putting himself in position to clean up numerous misses.
Robinson knows he could be the best player in the draft, and he'll show that as he jumps out to help make the Kings a playoff team in his rookie season.