NBA Predictions: Under-the-Radar Rookies Who Will Shine

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 21:  John Jenkins #12 of the Atlanta Hawks 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)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Sure things are hard to come by in the NBA draft. For every Anthony Davis, there's a Michael Olowokandi, for every Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, there's a Korleone Young.

It's that uncertainty about whether a player's game translates to the next level that results in many quality basketball players finding themselves falling on draft night—whether it be to late in the first round or to the depths of the second round—or to not being drafted at all.

But quality NBA players emerge from that group year after year, and the 2012 rookie class will be no different.

Let's take a look a handful of rookies who will make you take notice in the 2012-13 NBA season.


Bernard James, C, Dallas Mavericks

James, 27, received a standing ovation from those in attendance at this year's draft when he was selected with the 33rd pick by the Dallas Mavericks through a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A six-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, James put up solid numbers for the Mavericks at summer league where he averaged 10.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game—almost identical to his senior year numbers at Florida State.

While Chris Kaman will start in the middle for the Mavericks, James will have ample opportunity to contribute early, and his minutes figure to grow as he becomes more comfortable with the NBA game.

It's not out of the question that we will find James averaging close to a double-double by the end of the season—something that we cannot say about some of the power forwards and big men taken before him.


John Jenkins, SG, Alanta Hawks

Arguably the best shooter in this year's draft class, John Jenkins was taken 23rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks. While he's a bit undersized for the position at 6'4", what Jenkins lacks in height he makes up for with his tenacious attack of the basket.

Jenkins can drive the lane or pop it from outside, something he showed this summer by shooting better than 50 percent from the field in summer league action. 

He'll start the season buried behind Anthony Morrow and Louis Williams on the Hawks' depth chart, but he has the talent to capitalize on his opportunities to get on the floor.

As the season rolls on, Jenkins' minutes, and role, will increase for the Hawks as they make the transition from the departed Joe Johnson to their next shooting guard of the future.


Kyle O'Quinn, C, Orlando Magic

In case you missed it, Dwight Howard left town, and in his place the Magic are left with three largely unproven commodities in the middle: Gustavo Ayon, Nikola Vucevic and the 49th overall pick in this year's draft, Kyle O'Quinn.

He averaged 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds during summer league play, numbers that were decent but nothing special.

Athletic, O'Quinn has a nose for the ball when it's coming off of the glass. He knows how to use his size to alter shots in the paint and is a consistent scorer down low.

He's a work in progress, but so are the two players ahead of him on the depth chart.

There's no reason O'Quinn can't pull starters minutes this season in Orlando.