What's up, B/R?!
With every new NBA season comes a new set of rookies, and with every new set of rookies comes a brand new set of rookie rankings by yours truly.
Now, I didn't catch every single Summer League game, but I was able to formulate a ranking system using what I did see, along with the general consensus around the web. (Shout-out to SBNation's Mike Prada for his super in-depth dissection of this year's Summer League play)
It's a tentative list that'll be updated as the pre-season and regular season rage on, but for now let's just get started.
26. John Jenkins: G, ATL (Drafted 23rd overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 28.6 MPG, 15.6 PPG, .444 3P%, .508 FG%
Deadly shooter. That’s about all. Definition of a specialist.
25. Will Barton: G, POR (Drafted 40th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 32.8 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, .313 3P%
I didn’t know much about, nor was I expecting much from Will Barton in the Summer League, but he played himself right into Portland’s rotation. He was getting great shots that just wouldn’t drop in the first few games, but his fortune turned in his 21- and 27-point games against Denver and Miami. Not a lot of minutes after Wes Matthews and Elliot Williams, but he’ll make the roster for sure.
24.Andrew Nicholson: PF, ORL (Drafted 19th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 26.2 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG
Nicholson still needs to develop on the defensive end, but his skilled post-game and pick-and-pop prowess make him a great pick-up for Orlando. Still must develop to be effective in the NBA.
23. Tyshawn Taylor: G, BRK (Drafted 41st overall)
Summer League Stats: 4 games, 29.8 MPG, 15.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, .364 3P%
Taylor couldn’t generate many assists in his time on the floor, but his scoring ability and surprisingly great defense is what’ll earn him some minutes behind Deron Williams and C.J. Watson.
22. Meyers Leonard: C, POR (Drafted overall)
Summer League Stats: 4 games, 29.8 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.5 BKPG, .778 FT%
With Joel Przybilla signing elsewhere (MIL), Leonard has essentially been drafted into a starting job. Thankfully, he showed a lot of promise running the pick-and-roll with Damian Lillard and crashing the boards. I would’ve liked to see more blocks from the touted shot-blocker, though.
21. Doron Lamb: G, MIL (Drafted 42nd overall)
Summer League Stats: 4 games, 29.0 MPG, 14.0 PPG, .889 FT%, .455 FG%, .000 3P%
Lamb couldn’t find a three for free in the few games he played, but he found other ways to score and make plays for his teammates. He won’t be better than Jeremy, but if he improves his ball-handling a bit, Milwaukee could have a steal on their hands.
20. Jae Crowder: G, DAL (Drafted 34th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 32.2 MPG, 26.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.0 SPG, .591 FT%
Crowder forced his way into the Dallas rotation by being Mr. Do-It-All for their Summer League team. He’s not a great one-on-one player, but his off-ball movement, passing ability and defensive weak-side positioning have forced Rick Carlisle’s hand.
19. Tyler Zeller: C, CLE (Drafted 17th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 22.6 MPG, 11.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.0 BLKPG, .905 FT%
Zeller is a horse on offense. He knocks mid-range jumpers down out to around 18 feet and runs the floor incredibly well for someone his size. He’s got to develop a post-game and show some more effort on defense, but he’ll earn some PT in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving attacking the paint.
18. Evan Fournier: G, DEN (Drafted 20th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 31.2 MPG, 14.8 PPG, 1.2 SPG, .826 FT%, .367 3P%
Great depth in Denver will cost Fournier much PT, but he did a lot of things right and few things wrong in Summer League play. Especially in their offensive scheme, Fournier’s complete offensive game would thrive.
17. Royce White: F, HOU (Drafted 16th overall) Summer League Stats: 5 games, 25.4 MPG, 8.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, .474 FG%
In the very best, Royce White could be Josh Smith meets Andre Iguodala. He’s got a long road ahead of him to get there, but he’s got all the tools. Behind Kendall Marshall, he’s the best passer in the class, and White’s an incredible rebounder, as well. Let’s hope Kevin McHale sees the same thing we do.
16. Jared Sullinger: PF, BOS (Drafted 22nd overall)
ORL Summer League Stats: 4 games, 28.3 MPG, 13.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, .900 FT%
Vegas Summer League Stats: 5 games, 11.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG
I love Jared Sullinger’s game, and the “red flag” debacle did nothing but put him into a better situation with Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics. He’s like Big Baby 2.0, and I know he’ll see at least 10-12 minutes per game with his skills.
15. Perry Jones III: F, OKC (Drafted 28th overall)
Summer League Stats: 2 games, 26.0 MPG, 12.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.5 BLKPG
He’s got a long way before living up to the hype, but Perry Jones III showed a few flashes of greatness in his two games. He failed to take advantage of clear mismatches, but he still impacted the game a few ways while merely going through the movements.
14. Andre Drummond: C, DET (Drafted 9th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 24.2 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.0 BLKPG, .500 FG%
Drummond proved everything we already knew. He’s super raw—uncooked if you will—on offense, but he’ll make a name with his shot blocking and, hopefully, rebounding. He got bullied around by Kyle O’Quinn early in the Summer League, but playing alongside Greg Monroe will help him out for sure.
13. Austin Rivers: G, NOH (Drafted 10th overall)
Summer League Stats: 2 games, 32.0 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.5 RPG, .125 3P%, .211 FG%, .611 FT%
It’s going to be a long, difficult road for Austin Rivers, but the transition to the point guard position just might work out in New Orleans. He was too busy trying not to mess up rather than being aggressive in getting his shot, and he read the defense awfully slow off pick-and-rolls, but over time he’ll get better. I think Monty Williams will be a great mentor for him.
12. Dion Waiters: G, CLE (Drafted fourth overall)
Summer League Stats: 3 games, 30.0 MPG, 12.3 PPG, .300 FG%, .167 3P%
I was really disappointed with Dion Waiters’ perimeter game. We all knew he’d be able to get to the rack and finish, but his lack of a three-point stroke could cause issues in how he and Kyrie Irving will mesh in the regular season. Several sources believe he also may have gained some weight, and dropping 10 pounds would make him more explosive.
11. Terrence Ross: G-F, TOR (Drafted 9th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 27.2 PPG, 14.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG
Ross attempted way too many threes (24) and has already labeled himself as a high-volume scorer, which won’t earn him many minutes behind or next to DeMar DeRozan. Regardless, he played impeccable isolation defense and could be a complimentary piece in Toronto.
10. Thomas Robinson: PF, SAC (Drafted fifth overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 29.5 MPG, 13.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, .344 FG%
Thomas Robinson grabbed a whole lot of rebounds, but it was his shot selection that didn’t sit well with me. He threw his body around at Kansas, putting up points by making athletic plays on the inside, but in his Summer League games, he was caught drifting out to the perimeter and turning the ball over (5.0 TOPG). If John Hollinger did a PER for Robinson, it would’ve been sub-paltry.
09. Harrison Barnes: F, GSW (Drafted 7th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 33.3 MPG, 16.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.8 SPG, .571 3P%
He still can’t create on his own (or hasn’t shown that he can, yet), but his ability to get open off the ball and knock down shots make Barnes a picture-perfect pick-up for the Warriors.What more could you ask for than an upgraded Dorell Wright?
08. Terrence Jones: PF, HOU (Drafted 18th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 25.2 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, .333 3P%
Jones came off the bench, so a lot of his dirty work came against tired starters and second-string players; but he did prove his value as an isolation threat on the low block. Think a younger version of Zach Randolph, minus the technical fouls.
07. Bradley Beal: G, WSH (Drafted third overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 30.6 MPG, 17.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, .3003P%
Even though he was touted the second-coming of Ray Allen, Beal took an insane amount of threes, yielding a poor three-point percentage. However, he found other ways to score, attacking the basket and getting to the charity stripe (72.2 percent from the line). He’ll easily start alongside John Wall in Washington, giving the Wizards a perimeter threat on a team full of slashers.
06. Donatas Motiejunas: F, HOU (Drafted 20th overall in 2011)
Summer League Stats: 4 games, 25.0 MPG, 16.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, .286 3P%, .622 FG%
Motiejunas was drafted 20th overall by the Rockets in the 2011 NBA Draft, but, as many European players tend to do, took a year before coming over to the U.S. He showcased an incredible touch around the basket, especially with his elite post array, as well as consistency from downtown. He just might be the perfect replacement for Luis Scola.
05. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: F, CHA (Drafted second overall)
Summer League Stats: 1 game, 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 7-12 FG
It only took Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats scouting staff one game to realize that MKG is the real deal. And though we all have our pause about MJ’s executive decision-making, I think he was spot-on with this one. Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t have ball-handling skills, nor is he a decent shooter or a lethal post player. What he does is bring energy, intensity and toughness to every game, which is exactly what this wallowing, bottom-feeding Bobcats squad needs.
04. John Henson: PF, MIL (Drafted 14th overall)
Summer League Stats: 4 games, 18.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.5 BLKPG, .534 FG%
Henson exhibited the best all-around game out of any big man in Summer League Basketball. Showing his range, low-post repertoire, and defensive prowess, Milwaukee got a steal at No. 14 in the Draft. He’ll come off the bench behind Ersan Ilyasove, but the Bucks could go big by moving him to the three, and putting Henson in at the four with Samuel Dalembert running center.
03. Jeremy Lamb: G, HOU (Drafted 12th overall)
Summer League Stats: 5 games, 29.2 MPG, 20.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, .296 3P%
Because Brad Beal shot so poorly from downtown, scouts are touting Jeremy Lamb as the best shooter to come out of this year’s draft. And even though he, too, shot a paltry 29.6 percent from three, coming off screens and spotting up for open threes will be his ticket in the NBA
02. Damian Lillard: G, POR (Drafted 6th overall)
Summer League Stats: 4 games, 32.8 MPG, 26.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.0 RPG, .379 3P%, .438 FG%, .893 FT%
Sharing the MVP Award with Memphis’ Josh Selby, Damian Lillard leapfrogged ahead of the pack as the top rookie, by far, in Summer League play. Lillard confirmed everything we had already known. He’s a deadly shooter from everywhere on the floor, has speed and quickness to blow by defenders, and athleticism that allows him to finish at the rim like he did so many times at Weber State. 3.8 turnovers per game is still very high, but when he gets used to the speed of the NBA game, “D-Lill” will be the blessing that Portland so desperately needed.
01. Anthony Davis: PF, NOH (Drafted first overall)
Olympic Basketball Stats: 4 games, 11.3 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG
Any time a rookie gets called to Team USA before playing a single game, you know he’s destined for greatness. Anthony Davis hasn’t seen much action so far, but I’ve gotten a good enough feel for his game to know what he can and can’t do. He’s got a lanky frame that exudes a weak appearance, but the kid has strength to finish under the bucket with other bigs on top of him. Davis also has great athleticism and leaping ability to finish at/above the rim, and appears to have a semi-functional jump shot ranging out to around 17 feet (no, that four-point play vs. DR wasn’t enough).
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