Updated NBA Rookie of the Year Odds, Post-Summer League
It's still far too soon to tell who will follow in Kyrie Irving's footsteps, but next season's Rookie of the Year race promises to be a tight one.
If the Las Vegas NBA Summer League action is any indication, there will be more than a few rookies ready to contribute right away.
From big men like Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson and Johnson Henson to skilled scorers like Bradley Beal and Jeremy Lamb, there's a wide variety of talent on which fans should keep a close eye.
Then there are guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who seemingly fall into a category of their own.
Now that we've seen upcoming rookies in action for the first time since the NCAA tournaments, what kind of odds do these guys have to walk away the best of their class?
Anthony Davis–F/C, New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis was too busy preparing for the London Summer Olympics to get involved with any Summer League action, but he obviously remains one of the top rookies in his class. Being selected with the first-overall pick in June's draft should have told you as much.
It's not entirely clear how successful he'll be on the offensive end of the floor, but he has the potential to develop a pretty consistent jumper. His quickness and explosiveness in the paint will ensure he scores at least 10-12 points per game.
But, his real selling point will be his rebounding and defensive ability. Those contributions won't go unnoticed.
Davis may not lead rookies in scoring, but he'll be by far the most dominent defender of the group. That alone could give him the edge he needs.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist–SF, Charlotte Bobcats
You really couldn't pick a better situation for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist than the Charlotte Bobcats. That might sound absolutely absurd given how historically awful this team was last year, but a few things could work to his advantage.
New head coach Mike Dunlap is one of those defense-first types, and he'll do everything he can to turn Charlotte into an up-tempo machine.
In other words, he'll be molding the Bobcats into the perfect vehicle for Kidd-Gilchrist's open-court proficiency.
The rookie only got one Summer League game in, but he looked awfully good in the process. He chalked up 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in 22 minutes.
His production won't look quite that good over the course of an NBA season, but it provides another glimpse into just how multi-talented he is.
In addition to how well the new-look Bobcats will fit with Kidd-Gilchrist's skill set, he's also likely to have plenty of opportunity on a roster that's short on talent. He'll fill up the stat sheet, and his intangible contributions will factor in as well.
If Charlotte makes any kind of significant improvement, this guy will get a lot of the credit.
Bradley Beal–SG, Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards will be more than happy with Bradley Beal in time. He may even emerge as the biggest star of his draft class.
How soon he looks the part is less certain, though.
The 19-year-old was plenty productive during his five Summer League games (17.6 points per game), but he only shot 42 percent from the field. That efficiency could improve when he's less depended upon to be the featured scorer, but there's also a very real possibility that it takes him some time to translate his impressive talent to the NBA game.
The Wizards' much-improved depth could also mean Beal remains more of a complementary player for now, even if he's destined to take on a starring role eventually.
For the moment, Beal is a great scorer who rebounds well for his position. However, he probably won't be instrumental enough to Washington's improvement this year for him to set himself apart from other elite rookies.
Dion Waiters–SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
When will this guy's sudden hype subside? His below-average Summer League play should bring his stock back down to earth for the moment, but the Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot on the line with this risky pick.
Taking him with the fourth-overall selection could be viewed as a head-scratcher a few years from now.
Or, it could be proven a stroke of genius.
In three Summer League games, Waiters shot just 30 percent from the field while adding three rebounds and three assists a game. Given the preseason circumstances, you can't make too much of those numbers.
But, they are consistent with the notion that this kid has a lot of work to do before he justifies his draft position.
If Waiters learns incredibly quickly on the job, he might have a chance. Otherwise, he'll look like a guy who should remain a sixth man for some years to come.
Thomas Robinson–PF, Sacramento Kings
There's a good chance Thomas Robinson makes the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers regret passing him up.
He's a hard-working, tough-minded power forward who can score, rebound and fight on the defensive end. His energy and skill level are so obvious that it's hard to imagine him not making at least a couple of All-Star games down the road.
His ability to make an immediate impact is also without question. The only concern is just how much of an impact he'll actually make.
He averaged 13 points and 9.8 rebounds during five games of Summer League play, but he only made 34 percent of his field-goal attempts. That is bound to improve with some polish and the more controlled setting of NBA play, but it's not an ideal first impression for a big man.
The Sacramento Kings are a young team, so Robinson should get plenty of opportunities. His ability to rebound will also help his case.
Damian Lillard–PG, Portland Trail Blazers
No one did more for his credibility in the Summer League than the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard. He did so well in fact, that he shared league MVP honors with the Memphis Grizzlies' Josh Selby.
Lillard led the Summer League in scoring with 26.5 points a game, and made a fairly respectable 44 percent of his shots, a figure that isn't half-bad for a perimeter player. He also added four rebounds and 5.3 assists over the course of those four games.
The speedy point guard can score in a number of different ways, and he'll have no problem stepping in as the engine that keeps Portland's offense running.
If that sounds a bit charitable, remember that Lillard will be one of Portland's primary options next season. He'll have the ball in his hands a lot, and he'll have endless opportunities to create for himself and others like.
Harrison Barnes–SF, Golden State Warriors
Harrison Barnes may be among the most NBA-ready rookies out there, and he may also be the most well-rounded forward of his draft class (although an obvious argument could be made for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).
Barnes averaged 16.8 points and 5.6 rebounds through five Summer League contests, and his 1.8 steals weren't bad either.
The Golden State Warriors look to be priming their rotation to feature Barnes prominently, so he could have a surprisingly impressive year. After spending two seasons at North Carolina, he's more polished than many of his peers, and there's no question he can spot up for jumpers.
Barnes may not have the most upside, but he could still put together an incredibly respectable rookie campaign. Golden State will depend upon his scoring, even if he's the third or fourth option. He'll get his looks.
Terrence Ross–SG, Toronto Raptors
Terrence Ross didn't have the most impressive Summer League showing, but you probably shouldn't read too much into that.
He's a better shooter than his 37 percent average through five games would indicate, and the Toronto Raptors are sure to give him minutes with Landry Fields and DeMar Derozan as the other alternatives on the wing.
Ross also rebounds well for a shooting guard and plays solid defense.
Don't be at all surprised to see him make huge strides over the course of his rookie year.
If Ross were on a team with a bit less depth, he'd have a better chance. He's an excellent perimeter shooter, and he's a strong enough defender to stay on the floor.
John Henson–PF, Milwaukee Bucks
Though John Henson didn't walk away with Summer League MVP honors, he had to be among those considered.
In four games, he averaged 18.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Most impressively, he made 53 percent of his field-goal attempts. Though he won't continue to produce that much throughout the regular season, it gives you some sense of what this guy is capable of.
Often overshadowed by teammates Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes at North Carolina, it appears that we've only scratched the surface of what Henson can do.
The only thing holding Henson back is that no one ever seems to excel with the Milwaukee Bucks. It's a team deep with above-average players, and it's unlikely that anyone outside of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will really stand out from the crowd.
Jeremy Lamb–SG and Terrence Jones–F, Houston Rockets
Two of the Houston Rockets' first-round draft picks had outstanding Summer League performances.
Jeremy Lamb averaged 20 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the field, and Terrence Jones averaged 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds on 50 percent shooting. The Rockets may not be contenders next season, but Houston fans should have some hope for the future with these kind of young assets on board.
It wouldn't be at all surprising to see Kevin Martin traded in the not-too-distant future so that Lamb gets some additional playing time. With Luis Scola already amnestied and Chase Budinger sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jones is already set to play a big role.
Either one of these guys could wind up having a big year. The Rockets are a young team, and they'll be relying heavily on these rookies to start performing sooner rather than later.