NBA

Anthony Davis: Top Pick Will Face Stiff Competition for Rookie of the Year Award

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 21:  Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Hornets poses for a portrait during the 2012 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at the MSG Training Center on August 21, 2012 in Tarrytown, New York.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2012

There's just something about the sound of sneakers screeching on the hardwood that gets our hearts racing, our blood flowing, and our dander raised.

As the start to the NBA season draws ever closer, pundits and prognosticators around the world will overwhelmingly anoint Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets, the top overall pick in this year's NBA draft, as the presumptive winner of the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.

Not so fast, I say.

There's no question that Davis is an athletic freak; a more polished version of Marcus Camby when the big man came out of UMass all those years ago.

He very well may wind up winning the award.

But there are a handful of players from the 2012 rookie class who will have something to say about who takes home the hardware at the end of the year.

 

Bradley Beal: SG, Washington Wizards

He'll take the floor without his running mate, John Wall, but there's a reason the Wizards made Beal the third overall pick in this year's draft.

Beal's got game.

There's no question that he can stroke it from behind the arc as well as anyone in this year's rookie class, immediately drawing comparisons to future NBA Hall of Famer, Ray Allen.

But that's only scratching the surface of what the 18-year-old brings to the table.

He's not the most athletic player you'll see, but he might be the most flexible. He can play in any system, a testament to his dogged work ethic in the gym, and he's a more than capable defender, evidenced by his 1.4 steals per game average in his only season with the Florida Gators.

On a Wizards squad that will feature Wall (eventually), along with the slashing of Trevor Ariza and the inside play of Nene, Beal will find himself in favorable positions with the ball in his hands more often than not.

 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: SF, Charlotte Bobcats

Davis' running mate at Kentucky, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, might be the most complete player to come out of this year's draft class, even with a jump shot that needs serious work.

It won't take long for him to emerge as one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league, and what he lacks in his jumper he makes up for by attacking the rim like it owes him money. 

Some have compared him to Gerald Wallace, but those comparisons are unfair—Kidd-Gilchrist has the ability to be a far superior player.

His biggest obstacle might be the team he plays for. The Bobcats figure to be picking in the lottery yet again in 2013, and that lack of overall success could be held against him when the voters are filling out their ballots.

 

Damian Lillard: PG, Portland Trail Blazers

He's a scoring point guard in every sense of the term, though don't pay much attention to the fact that he only averaged four assists a game last year—Lillard was essentially the only viable scoring option they had.

He dished out 5.3 dimes per game in Summer League play, so that should silence some of the critics.

With LaMarcus Aldridge down low and talented wings in Nicholas Batum and Wesley Matthews, Lillard won't be asked to be the primary scoring option, allowing him to get his teammates more involved in the offense—and that will give him easier looks at the basket himself.

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