Setting Odds for 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year
With draft night nothing but a distant memory at this point, the latest batch of NBA rookies is hard at work in preparation for the 2012-13 season.
While it will be several years before most of those players hit their prime, there will be a few whose inaugural NBA campaigns will be noteworthy, to say the least.
New Orleans Hornets forward Anthony Davis figures to be one of those players, and the general consensus is that he'll be honored as the premier rookie of them all come next spring.
Meanwhile, several other first-year players—most notably Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal—will do their best to make sure that doesn't happen.
With NBA training camps set to open in less than a month, here is a look at the top contenders for the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
While it's not a lock by any means, the smart money is on the Hornets' Anthony Davis taking home the hardware at the end of the season.
You'd have to look far and wide for anyone who didn't think Davis was the best player in this year's draft class. The 6'10" forward has a diverse skill set that will allow him to contribute immediately. There's a reason why Davis was selected to represent the United States in London this summer, and his gold medal may soon have some company in his trophy case.
Recent history is working in Davis' favor as well. Three of the last four winners of the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award were the No. 1 overall pick in their respective drafts.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
No rookie looked more impressive in this year's Vegas Summer League than Portland's Damian Lillard. The 6'3" point guard dominated the competition, averaging 26.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds during his brief sojourn in Sin City.
Once the real games start, he should pair nicely with All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, and the two of them have the potential to grow into one of the league's better duos. In the short term, however, Lillard will give opposing point guards fits. He might even give Anthony Davis a run for his money.
Lillard is playing at a slight disadvantage given the fact that Portland games aren't often watched by those east of the Mississippi. That said, former Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy was able to capture ROY honors in 2007. Like Lillard, Roy was also the No. 6 pick in his year's draft class.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats aren't all that great, so Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will have a great chance to put up "looter in a riot" numbers this coming season.
Team success rarely plays into the voting for the Rookie of the Year Award, so if Kidd-Gilchrist can fill the stat sheet for the Bobcats like he did at Kentucky, there's a very good chance that he'll take home the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy.
While he's good in a lot of areas, the knock on Gilchrist is that he doesn't excel at any one particular skill. Therefore, while he might have a better chance at the ROY award if he was merely an elite-level rebounder, Kidd-Gilchrist's all-around game might be enough to raise some eyebrows in 2012-13.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Unlike most rookies, Bradley Beal will have the green light to shoot early and often for the Washington Wizards next year. If he and point guard John Wall can develop a decent amount of chemistry in the coming months, the 6'5" Beal could be the best first-year player in the 2012 draft class.
"I think our chemistry is already building," Beal said of he and Wall earlier this summer (via the Washington Post. "I really can't wait to play alongside him."
Beal is everything that most teams want in a shooting guard, and his jumper is so reliable that many scouts wondered why the 19-year-old didn't dominate during his only season at Florida. The Wizards may not have won the draft lottery, but the team got itself a steal with the No. 3 pick.
Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
Former Tar Heel Harrison Barnes may not win the Rookie of the Year Award, but he might be in the best situation of any other player drafted in the lottery this summer.
With Andrew Bogut and David Lee in the frontcourt, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the perimeter, there's little pressure on Barnes to contribute much offensively next year.
However, in regards to postseason honors, the lack of focus on Barnes is both a gift and a curse. The 6'8" Barnes figures to be no better than the No. 4 option for the Warriors. Therefore, unless he's exceptional out of the gate, it will be hard for him to get the shots (and the numbers) necessary to convince the NBA's beat writers that he's the best player in his class.
Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets
Austin Rivers has the talent to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award, but playing alongside fellow rookie Anthony Davis will make that task extremely difficult.
Furthermore, with Eric Gordon firmly entrenched at the shooting guard spot, Rivers will likely be relegated to a reserve role unless he's able to unseat starting point guard Greivis Vasquez. Either way, expect plenty of highlights from the former Duke standout, who has all the makings of a potential star.
If the ROY award was given out based on sheer bravado, Rivers would win in a landslide. Since it isn't, the 6'4" rookie (who has already nicknamed himself "Subzero") will have his work cut out for him down in the Big Easy.
There are plenty of other first-year players that could upset the proverbial apple cart and win the Rookie of the Year Award next season. The Phoenix Suns' Kendall Marshall might be the best pure point guard in the 2012 draft class, but the presence of Goran Dragic will likely deny him the minutes that he'll need to make voters take notice.
Minutes don't figure to be a problem for Dion Waiters of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the leap from collegiate sixth man to NBA Rookie of the Year is rather huge. Big men Thomas Robinson (Sacramento Kings), Donatas Motiejunas (Houston Rockets) and Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors) also have an outside shot at the trophy, provided that they make some noise early in the year.
Another dark-horse candidate for ROY honors is Houston's Royce White. If the 6'8" rookie can carve out a niche in the Rockets' rotation and/or possibly start at one of the forward positions, the former Iowa State Cyclone could make a surprise run at the Rookie of the Year Award.