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Predicting Which 2012 NBA Rookies Will Be Studs and Which Will Be Duds

Zach HarperContributor IIISeptember 19, 2012

Predicting Which 2012 NBA Rookies Will Be Studs and Which Will Be Duds

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    Every season, a new rookie class comes into the NBA, and every year we have guys that either exceed or completely miss expectations.

    There are plenty of reasons why guys don't make an immediate impact. Sometimes, the opportunities for minutes aren't there right away. Various depth charts, coaching tendencies toward playing or not playing rookies and how far along a player is coming into the league can affect whether a guy will set the NBA on fire right away.

    This year, we have an exciting rookie class with plenty of chances to show they belong right away. Some guys will be great right away, some guys will take a while to develop, and some guys will never quite live up to their draft selection.

    I've highlighted the five players who I think will be great rookies right away and five guys who I think will be duds in their first year. It doesn't mean the duds will never be good in the NBA; it just means it might take them a bit longer to get their careers going.

    Let's dive right in. 

Stud: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    Fighting for minutes with: Robin Lopez, Jason Smith, um... Monty Williams deciding to play Austin Rivers exclusively at center?

    There is absolutely no reason for Anthony Davis not to log big minutes this year. Barring injury or foul trouble because of fighting for position as he builds up strength, we should see Davis take a stranglehold as the defensive anchor in the middle for New Orleans and never let go.

    There is absolutely no threat of Robin Lopez or Jason Smith cutting into the rookie's minutes. Any good play from them will only move him to the power forward position, where he can be a little more active against guys who weigh less than centers (typically). I actually think the more agile a player you put against him, the better off he'll be. Nobody is going to challenge his agility and length.

     

    Why he's going to be a stud

    Seriously, the defensive ability alone is going to make this guy a great rookie right off the opening tip. We could go through the shot-blocking stats and how he blocked something like a dozen three-point attempts in his year at Kentucky, but just watching the way he shadows a side of the floor while still being within arm's reach of his man is pretty incredible.

    It's possible that his inability to fight for defensive positioning right away won't even be an issue. He's so long and his timing is so good that he'll still challenge shots, even when he's pinned on the low block.

    The thing about Davis' ability to contest shots is he doesn't wait for the ball to get into the air to try to block it. He's a quick jumper and lets his wingspan take over by going straight to the shooting hand.

    There's almost no room for error on the offensive player's part because they don't have the space to move the shot over the outstretched hand, which is practically slapping five with the offensive player as the shot is leaving the fingertips.

    Aside from the defense, he's going to rebound well and be a threat to score inside. His post game will probably start too far out from the basket until he learns how to pin guys on the block with his legs. But he's quick enough to spin off of guys, and he moves really well without the ball. His offensive rebounding could end up being the best in the league right away.

    If he shows a jumper that he seems to have or if he can keep a low dribble and put the ball on the floor to create offensively, we could see a nice offensive weapon to complement Eric Gordon's ability on the perimeter.  

     

    What could possibly make him a dud

    The only thing that could possibly make him a dud is an injury. His defense and rebounding will be there. Even if he's a slightly more agile version of Tyson Chandler right away, is that something that would disappoint the organization? How much do athletic, roaming big men affect today's schemes on both ends of the floor?

    It doesn't matter if he's not a good offensive player right away; he'll still affect the game on at least one side of the court. No reason other than zombie apocalypse or poor knee ligaments will make him a dud in Year One.

Dud: Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    Fighting for minutes with: Jason Maxiell, Jonas Jerebko, Slava Kravstov, Lawrence Frank deciding to go with Greg Monroe at center while Drummond develops.

    Greg Monroe's versatility and improved defense from his rookie year to his sophomore season could be the undoing of Drummond's rookie campaign. Since Monroe can play center with relative ease, the Pistons may look to go with a more versatile lineup, taking advantage of their bevy of lanky, small forwards. In fact, Jonas Jerebko as a stretch-4 makes probably the best lineup the Pistons can go with right away.

    Jason Maxiell is just good enough to stick within a rotation, and he's a tenacious enough player to garner a few minutes at the center in small lineups. But Kravstov could be the dark horse in receiving minutes at the 5 this season. Lawrence Frank has played experienced Euro centers before with Nenad Krstic in New Jersey, and Slava fits a similar mold in an offensive center who can rebound decently and finish on offense.

     

    Why he's going to be a dud

    The Detroit Pistons know they have a project in Drummond, and there's no reason to rush his development right away. It could be as simple as the rookie quickly fixing his stroke at the free-throw line, where he was an embarrassing 29.8 percent from the line last season.

    It may seem like horrendous airballing is redundant, but with Drummond it's the only way to describe it. He not only misses short on airballs, but sometimes it's way off to the left.

    If Drummond isn't able to even become a passable free-throw shooter right away, opposing teams will give him the Andris Biedrins/DeAndre Jordan treatment and just put him on the line to shatter his confidence. Since the Pistons are trying to build up that confidence, it may be wise to be very strict with his minutes.

    The poor free-throw stroke could also lead to him not being very aggressive with the ball on offense. If he's afraid of getting put on the line, then he's probably going to make the Pistons feel like they're playing four-on-five out there. And if he's in the same lineup at Charlie Villanueva, then it's really like playing three-on-five offensively.

    There just isn't a big rush to get Drummond on the court and into the flow right now. Monroe can fit the bill inside, and this team might be better off going small and playing more uptempo. It's more about playing time than Drummond being good enough to be on the floor.

     

    Why he could be a stud

    Let's say Drummond does have a decent free-throw stroke by the time the season begins and is able to log some minutes next to Monroe.

    Drummond will be a very good defender right away. His shot-blocking timing is fantastic, and he's so big that you probably can't get decent post position. Even in college, he fought through screens nicely when they picked across the lane to free up a big man on the block. Drummond is very nimble for a man his size, so he won't have issues getting into position.

    Additionally, in roughly 28 minutes per game in college, Drummond fouled just 2.2 times per. Showing a low foul rate this early into his career could definitely transfer over to his rookie year in the NBA. He just doesn't go for a lot of fakes and is quick enough to wait to react.

    He also has a very solid offensive game. He drives to the rim like a center version of Amar'e Stoudemire (in light form, of course) and has a nice jump shot, which makes you think the free-throw debacles are strictly a mental game with him.

    IF he can find a way to not be a liability at the line and get minutes, he'll fit in nicely next to Monroe. But that's a big if for a big guy.

Stud: John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Fighting for minutes with: Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ekpe Udoh and Scott Skiles' irrational love towards veterans that aren't very good.

    I'm not sure we can really describe Milwaukee's frontcourt as deep. Sure, there are a lot of players to dole minutes to, but it's a lot more crowded than deep. "Deep" would imply there are a lot of players on the roster you really want to give minutes to, and I don't think Gooden and Sanders really qualify for that right now.

    The tricky part for Henson is showing he can play center. If he can, despite his thin frame and high butt (more on this in a minute), then it allows Skiles to play Ilyasova and Henson at the same time. That's the best-case scenario for their lineup configurations at the 4 and 5 positions. 

    But Dalembert is a veteran, and a cranky one if he's not getting minutes. Ekpe Udoh is very good at what he does and will be hard to keep off the floor. Mbah a Moute's defense can't just be left on the bench, and Drew Gooden...well, we can still see his weird hair decisions from the bench. He doesn't need to be out there.

     

    Why he's going to be a stud

    Henson can flat-out ball. Two years ago, I was curious how he was going to even be good enough to play at the NBA level. His improvement over those two years make those former feelings of mine seem completely ludicrous. He has an outside game and a surprising post game, even though he has a high butt (almost there).

    His touch around the basket is incredible and translates to him tipping offensive rebounds away from the defenders and into his hands or the basket. He's another one of these young hybrid big men who has a wingspan that won't quit.

    Defensively, he should be able to guard three positions. In fact, he may be the new Andrei Kirilenko in the way he roams defensively and swats away shots from the weak side. You can definitely get away with playing him at the 3. His wingspan and quick feet allow it.

    He has every tool available, and that should guarantee him playing time right away. He just needs Scott Skiles to have a clear mind and realize Drew Gooden is not the answer. He's never the answer.

     

    Why he could be a dud

    Okay, here's the thing about a high butt. I have a theory that players who have butts higher in proportion to their natural waist line than the average athlete struggle in the NBA. Now, I once floated this to David Thorpe, and he responded with, "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a high butt and he turned out okay."

    I had no response to that, but maybe I do now. Kareem's game wasn't contingent on having deep post position. He was so lanky, and his sky hook was so deadly even out to 15 to 17 feet that he could overcome his high-buttedness (made it up).

    Guys like Hasheem Thabeet and Randy Foye both have high butts. Numerous other players have had the same affliction, and it seems to cut down on not only their leverage as a player but also their ability to move quickly and smoothly on a basketball court.

    They end up walking like those aliens in the movie The Arrival, and I keep waiting for Charlie Sheen in hipster eyeglasses to rescue us all from their invasion. (Okay, this may have gotten away from me.)

    So what if my theory is correct and John Henson can't overcome having a high butt? If the defenders in the NBA can take away his perimeter game, he'll need to fight for position on the low block. He can't get leverage as constructed, unless he's able to make his legs into powder kegs of power.

    It's the only thing, outside of Scott Skiles' love for veterans, that can keep Henson from being a stud in his rookie season.

Dud: Kendall Marshall, Phoenix Suns

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    Fighting for minutes with: Goran Dragic, Sebastian Telfair, maybe even Shannon Brown.

    With lottery picks, fans often want a guy that can come in right away and maybe even surprise everybody by being the next Amar'e Stoudemire or Paul Pierce. Kendall Marshall will not be allowed to even have that as an option. Even if the Suns had managed to keep Steve Nash around, Marshall probably wouldn't have had much opportunity to win playing time.

    You can't take too much out of summer league, but it was quite alarming to see how poorly Kendall played against much lesser talent than he'll see throughout his NBA career. He was too slow and couldn't make a shot, and even his passing and leadership of the offense looked horrendous.

    Now he'll be fighting Sebastian Telfair for the backup job behind Goran Dragic, and it doesn't seem like he's even on Bassy's level right now. Telfair knows how to be a point guard in the NBA. He's not a very good one, but he's a serviceable backup. He has a fairly steady hand with the offense and a good feel for the game.

    Can Marshall prove to Alvin Gentry right away that he's not only as capable as Telfair but that he's even more deserving of backup status? It's just hard to see how he'll get minutes, unless there's an injury he can take advantage of for playing time.

     

    Why he's going to be a dud

    He can't shoot, and he's slow. When/if he learns the NBA game and figures out the angles to get around that, those two problems won't be an issue anymore. Look at guys like Eric Snow and Andre Miller: They both carved out really solid careers, even though they weren't fleet-footed and had poor shooting forms.

    Miller figured out how to get around guys by using angles and his own strength to move a defender off the spot. Will Marshall be able to do that right away? He couldn't do it against summer leaguers, and he certainly wasn't making good passing decisions. Against complex defensive schemes and better athletes, this could pose as a big problem.

    If he can become a passable shooter, Marshall can figure out how to earn time on the court, but I'd be shocked if he does that in his first year.

     

    Why he could be a stud

    In college, he made great decisions with the ball all the time and put up historic passing numbers. If he can find that rhythm in training camp and carry some momentum into playing time during the regular season, he may be able to develop some chemistry with guys like Shannon Brown, Wes Johnson, Jared Dudley and Markieff Morris in the first/second units. 

    Getting the ball to guys in position to shoot, especially in Gentry's offense, is going to be a key for the backup point guard. If he is able to figure out how to do that right away and put all of the summer's malaise behind him, then it would benefit the Suns to put him in over Telfair. But you can't force him into the lineup and expect decent results.

    He has to show growth and earn the trust of running a team that may struggle to score.

Stud: Royce White, Houston Rockets

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    Fighting for minutes with: Terrence Jones, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Jon Brockman, JaJuan Johnson, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas, Otis Thorpe, Carl Herrera, Charles Barkley, Matt Bullard, Maurice Taylor, Kenny Thomas.

    Gluttony of Power Forwards is not only the name of a fantastic Alt Rock, R.E.M. cover band from Pasadena, but it's also the situation the Houston Rockets have this year. There are a lot of ways this lineup can go because they have a lot of power forwards available.

    Some of them can play the 3 and maybe some of them can play the 5, but earning time at the 4 could really be tough for the young guys this year.

    White is going to have an advantage because he's a rebounding machine and provides a skill that Kevin McHale is going to love out of the high post: passing. White can sling the ball all over the court, and if his jumper is falling at all (his form worries me), he'll be a great pick-and-roll/pop option to run with Jeremy Lin.

    He shouldn't have too much trouble earning minutes, but the frontcourt is crowded.

     

    Why he's going to be a stud

    I don't want to play the "he's so intelligent" angle because it seems to be the suffocating storyline that comes around with Royce White this offseason, but he really knows how to think his way through a basketball game.

    He has a vision you don't get out of most power forwards, and he can see plays develop. His ability to grab a rebound, bring the ball up the floor and lead the break will be a weapon that lets Houston push the tempo when the defense least expects it.

    With Asik and White on the floor together, the Rockets should dominate the boards, and that's high on McHale's checklist of things he'll want his team to do. White's incredibly strong while using just one arm to rebound. He's capable of keeping a player boxed out and using his catcher's-mitt hands to secure the board.

    There are probably guys with bigger upsides on the Rockets, but nobody will be able to give the consistent production right away like White should. If he's a solid defender in the post and in help, there isn't much reason to take away his minutes to give to the gluttony of 4s (also my favorite Antoine Walker Tumblr page).

     

    Why he could be a dud

    Two things are there to keep Royce White from shining through as a rookie: the anxiety issue and his shooting. It's kind of hard to project anxiety issues, and it's fantastic that White has been so open to discussing what he deals with to help people understand how to maybe deal with something they don't fully understand in their own lives.

    I'm not going to pretend I can predict if it will be an issue for White as a rookie (or at all in his career), but it is going to be hanging in the air for a lot of people. What we can do is look at his shooting ability. He's going to have to master that midrange jumper to be truly unstoppable out of the high post, and he's also going to have to make more than half his free throws.

    White shot 49.8 percent from the charity stripe in his year at Iowa State, and his jump shot form looks unpolished and unbalanced. His release isn't very smooth at all, and you can see mechanics that could send him into big shooting slumps from time to time. But that's also something that is very fixable with proper coaching.

    If he becomes a complete liability at the line, it might make McHale think twice about giving him big or even consistent minutes.

Dud: Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets

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    Fighting for minutes with: Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Brian Roberts, Xavier Henry

    Greivis Vasquez is not a starting point guard in this league. I mean, he is because the Hornets don't really have anybody to put there, but if the point guard talent was evenly distributed across the league, then he wouldn't have a starting spot on any of the teams. No, not even you, Bobcats.

    Because of that, there is a good chance that if Austin Rivers can be competent taking care of the ball and running the offense, he'll see significant minutes playing the point guard for the Hornets. Brian Roberts could end up being a decent backup point guard, but mostly the minutes as the lead guard are there for the taking.

    With that said, if he can't show he's capable of playing point guard, then he has to find minutes at the shooting guard spot. With Eric Gordon on board, that's going to be difficult to do.

    Of course, Gordon has been about as durable as tortilla chips the last three seasons, so maybe he'll get hurt and Rivers will be allowed to play some 2. But if not, he's going to have to find backup minutes behind Gordon and fight off Xavier Henry, too.

     

    Why he's going to be a dud

    It's going to be really hard for him to grasp the point guard position as a distributor to two more important players right away. I don't even think Austin Rivers will be bad in the NBA; he just doesn't fit very well as a rookie on this team if Gordon is healthy. Rivers may not be a perennial All-Star in the NBA, but he has the skills to be a solid scorer.

    The problem is, they have a better scorer in Gordon, so it's imperative that Rivers succeeds as a lead guard and makes the combo guard role a success. When we got a glimpse of him trying to play the point in NBA Summer League, his ability to run a pick-and-roll wasn't great. He wasn't Tyreke Evans out there, but he also seemed to be hesitant when making passing decisions out of the attack.

    That all has to change with Monty Williams' tutelage. Studying Jarrett Jack film from last year might be the right way to get him familiar with the position in that system. Jack can be more of a scorer at times and isn't always your traditional point guard. He did a great job last year of being a scorer and a distributor. He found a balance, and if Rivers can't do that, what good is he out there as a rookie?

     

    Why he could be a stud

    Let's not forget that scoring is still a big skill in the NBA, and Rivers can score. He has a solid stroke from outside and is good at pulling up for his jumper after creating space with the dribble. He should be quick enough to get into the lane and put up a solid floater once he's there.

    His offensive game has a lot of versatility to it when he's trying to score, and that will benefit him at the NBA level. He isn't a one-trick pony. Now, if he can be a better free-throw shooter than the sub-70 percent we saw from him at Duke, he should be a big threat getting into the lane, absorbing contact and getting to the line.

    Gordon is definitely not a lock to play a full season, so this could open up a lot of chances for Rivers to get minutes in a role more conducive to the position he'll be comfortable playing in the NBA. Put Rivers in the right role and he'll have a fine rookie season. He just has to figure out what that role is going to be now.

Stud: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Fighting for minutes with: It's the Bobcats.

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn't going to have any problems staying on the court. Playing him with Gerald Henderson or Jeff Taylor are the two best wing combinations you can put on the floor if you're Mike Dunlap. You could put Henderson and Taylor out there together, but then you'd be taking your best defender and best player off the floor.

    The fact that MKG is already the Bobs' best player shows that he won't have much trouble finding minutes. The only real concern for him is staying healthy. He has a little Gerald Wallace to his game in that he's a bit reckless out there.

    He'll throw himself into the fray and crash into guys going to the hoop. The bumps and bruises may take their toll, and his style of play could earn him a turned ankle or two.

    But other than that, he'll have no issues staying on the court.

     

    Why he's going to be a stud

    Yes, MKG is on the crappy Bobcats, but that doesn't mean he won't have a great rookie campaign. He's never going to get pulled for poor defense because he might end up being an elite wing defender right away. His instincts are impeccable for a rookie, and he isn't just some gambler that will get burned. It shouldn't shock you if he ends up earning top-five marks in steals at the end of his first season.

    The big question for MKG is offense, and it shouldn't even really be a question. Until MKG irons out his shot hitch, he's going to very much be a rhythm scorer. The way you get rhythm scorers into a good rhythm is by getting them baskets at the rim and the free-throw line. 

    Despite not dominating the ball on that loaded Kentucky team, MKG still got to the charity stripe nearly five times per game last season and made 74.5 percent of his freebies. He's a competent free-throw shooter right away, and with his ability to slash into the lane and be aggressive at the hoop, he should see those attempts go way up.

    He's also going to get a lot of steals that lead to transition buckets in that pressure style of defense Charlotte will play. That leads to a lot of dunks and layups on the break. If anything, the hectic style that will probably lose Charlotte a lot of games most nights will help MKG stay in rhythm on offense. 

    Don't forget, he rebounded extremely well for his position (7.4 rebounds per game) and shot 49.1 percent from the field. There aren't many things on a court he won't be able to do.


    Why he could be a dud

    If for some reason the jumper isn't falling and teams play so far off of him he can't get into the lane, MKG will have to figure out how to be a smart scorer in this league. That still doesn't seem like something that will plague him, though, because of his ability to cut into the lane.

    The scariest thing for him will be how the wear and tear of the season and his style of play will affect his body. He has all of the tools to be a wrecking ball on both ends of the floor, but will his body hold up? Turned ankles, sprained ligaments, torn tendons and various ailments could really strike him down.

    The Bobcats were cautious with him in the summer league when he tweaked his knee, but will they manage the damage he endures on a nightly basis?

    He seems like the biggest injury risk out of any of the rookies, simply because he throws his body into the mix without seeming to care about the consequences. 

Dud: Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Fighting for minutes with: C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Kelenna Azubuike and maybe Daniel Gibson.

    Waiters won't have a ton of talent to fight against for minutes. C.J. Miles is a better option next to Kyrie Irving right now, but a little experience for Waiters playing off the ball could change that quickly.

    Waiters seems to be a guy that needs the ball in his hands. His style of attacking reminds me a lot of Tyreke Evans.

    But is that what Irving needs next to him right now? Gee, Azubuike and Miles are all experienced playing off the ball and are very comfortable playing that way. They move well without the ball and space the floor well. That's not something that was seen a lot with Waiters in his two years at Syracuse.

    But being a spot-up shooter and a slasher instead of a ball-dominant perimeter player could negate any potential fight for minutes with this Cavs team.

     

    Why he's going to be a dud

    The styles of Irving and Waiters don't mesh well right now. Both guys need the ball in their hands, and would you rather have Irving handling the rock the majority of the time or Waiters? It doesn't mean they can't learn to play together; Irving will be able to adapt to just about anybody throughout his career.

    But can Waiters adapt right away?

    His shooting has to be fantastic. He was a very solid scorer at Syracuse, making 47.6 percent of his field-goal attempts in his sophomore season. However, he's undersized for the shooting guard position in the NBA. Defense will be an issue because of his lack of size, and Byron Scott isn't likely to throw a guy out there that acts like a saloon door on the perimeter.

    Waiters may not be the bust people instantly projected him to be when the Cavs drafted him fourth, but he seems like the type of player that needs quite a bit of seasoning before he figures out his role in the NBA.

    If he was going to a team that didn't have a great guard playing next to him, I'd expect more of a Evans type of rookie season for him. Let him create constantly and on his own and you might see 14 points, four assists and a few rebounds per game.

    Unfortunately for him, he won't be in that situation. It's a good thing in the long term for his career, but it could make his rookie campaign pretty frustrating.

     

    Why he could be a stud

    This guy can create off the bounce and when used as a scorer in the second unit, he may find a niche with this team. He's a powerful guard with a solid first step. His handle is a little sloppy and he has a high dribble, but he's quick enough to keep defenders from swiping the ball.

    If defenders do gamble against him, it will allow him to get moving toward the basket and get himself into a rhythm. When he has a flow to his game, his jumper can get pretty wet. He doesn't look like he has definite NBA three-point range, but it's something that could develop pretty quickly with his shot mechanics. 

    Allow him to have a definite role in the second unit in which he's allowed to freelance a little bit on offense and he could have a very nice rookie season. But will it be enough time to make an impact when Irving is ready to come right back into the game and take over? That remains to be seen.

Stud: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Fighting for minutes with: Ronnie Price, Nolan Smith. Seriously, that's it.

    There really isn't competition for Damian Lillard in regards to getting playing time in Portland. Nolan Smith is a serviceable backup and Ronnie Price is a good fringe backup point guard, but neither of those guys will ever warrant the playing time over Lillard.

    The job is his to have, health willing.

     

    Why he's going to be a stud

    He can score, score and score some more. The most impressive thing with Damian Lillard on offense is watching his balance.

    Coming off a pick-and-roll, he rises up for a pull-up jumper and everything is in perfect alignment. Getting into the lane for a floater, his body is squared up and releasing a perfect attempt. When he gets into the lane, he's absorbing contact and getting his body facing the basket. If he can't get his body to face the basket, his shoulders square off to give him proper balance to spin a shot off the backboard.

    Everything about the way he carries himself in the offensive part of the game just screams balance. Because of this, he's going to score a lot of points as a rookie. Don't put him down for 20 points per game as a rook (it's only happened 24 times in the three-point era), but would it shock you if he ended up in the 18 to 20 points-per-game range in his first year?

    Other than LaMarcus Aldridge, who are going to be the scoring options on this team? Why give Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews shots over Lillard? If Portland is still willing to be a bit patient and use one more year to rebuild/retool, giving Lillard freelancing capabilities on offense throughout his rookie season could be the exact type of trial-and-error system that catapults him quickly toward being an elite scoring point guard in this league.


    Why he could be a dud

    It's technically possible that he won't be able to shoot a lick at the NBA level. Maybe he's going to develop a recurring hangnail issue that will throw his form off? Or maybe teams will overplay him, get the ball out of his hands and make everybody else on Portland beat them.

    I'm having a hard time (other than the requisite injury concern with any rookie) thinking of a way in which Lillard won't be successful right away in Portland. Seems likes a lock.

Dud: Jeremy Lamb, Houston Rockets

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    Fighting for minutes with: Kevin Martin, Carlos Delfino, Toney Douglas (just kidding) and maybe Chandler Parsons.

    Right now, Kevin Martin is a better player than Jeremy Lamb. Will that be the case in a year? Two years? By the end of Lamb's rookie contract? I would imagine so. But you're going to want to surround Jeremy Lin with shooters on the outside, and Martin and Delfino fit that role a lot better than Jeremy Lamb does. Lamb shot just 34.8 percent from downtown in his two years at Connecticut.

    Ideally, Martin will become upset when the ball isn't going through him for scoring opportunities, and it will cause him to force his way out of town. Considering he has an expiring contract this year, that's not a totally unlikely scenario.

    Then it will be Lamb fighting with Delfino for minutes at the 2, and Lamb is probably a more natural shooting guard than Delfino is at this stage in his career.

    Minutes can be had for Lamb, but a few dominoes have to fall first.

     

    Why he's going to be a dud

    He's just not going to get a ton of minutes right away, and that will really hurt his chances of making an impact. But the problem with him being a consistent weapon right away has much more to do with his game than it does with Kevin Martin standing in the way.

    Lamb is incredibly gifted as a natural scorer, but there are a couple parts of his game that are red flags when thinking about instant success.

    Lamb has a great handle of the basketball for a college player, but his dribble is sloppy. It's mainly sloppy due to a lot of noise in his movements on the court. It's something a lot of young players end up developing because the AAU circuit is more about flash than developing direct movements to the basket.

    He has a lot of unnecessary body motion when making a move. When this happens against lesser players, it's not a big deal. Throw him in against NBA defenders with the quickest and sharpest athletes digging down to help out on drives and that might be an issue. But this is something that could vanish with playing against his teammates in his first training camp. It doesn't project to be a long-term problem.

    The other issue is his slight build. His 6'11" wingspan makes up for his 6'5" height, but he's barely 180 pounds soaking wet. If he's going to be a guy that attacks the basket as a rookie, he's going to be bumped out of position to get off good shots. Unless he can be one of the rare rookies to draw a high number of shooting fouls, I'm not sure how he gets through that.

     

    Why he could be a stud

    If he got significantly stronger this summer and ironed out the unnecessary movement issue with his dribbling, there isn't really a big problem keeping him from being a good scorer right away. There's still Martin being ahead of him on the depth chart and his poor three-point shooting, but those aren't things that will definitely keep him from being good if given the chance to play.

    You can see Houston moving Martin before the trade deadline and giving the shooting guard duties to Lamb. Even if he can't shoot from outside, he could end up being fantastic at attacking the basket on drives and slashing into the lane. He's not really a guy you worry that much about long-term. It's just a matter of him putting it all together right away that seems to be a difficult task.

    Overall, he's a very talented scorer who provides a level of attacking nobody else on the team can, in theory. Could be a quick learning curve for Lamb at the NBA level, if he's given the minutes.

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