NBA Rankings: Preseason Rookie Top 25
The NBA preseason has come to a close and our newly-born stars have begun to settle into their lives as professional basketball players.
We've got some athletes with plummeting stocks and others who are quickly rising among the ranks. Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard, of course, sit at the top, but there are also some rags-to-riches stories happening right under our noses.
So without further adieu, let's get to the Top 25 rookies of preseason basketball.
Rookies No. 25-19
Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
Honorable Mentions: Miles Plumlee: F/C, Indiana Pacers; Arnett Moultrie: F, Philadelphia 76ers; Evan Fournier: G, Denver Nuggets; Moe Harkless (Hernia): F, Orlando Magic
25. Kendall Marshall: Point Guard, Phoenix Suns
Preseason Stats: 3.0 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.3 RPG
Last 3: 8 pts, 2 ast vs. GSW; 5 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl vs. OKC; 4 ast vs. POR
Kendall Marshall can’t shoot, and that’s always a red flag for point guards. But he’s easily the best passer/playmaker in his draft class and has kept his assist-to-turnover ratio positive by making good decisions.
24. Victor Claver: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers
Preseason Stats: 3.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG
Last 3: 1 stl, 10 min vs. UTAH; 2 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl vs. GSW; 13 pts, 3 reb, 2 stl, 13 min vs. DEN
Victor Claver makes this list solely because of his performance against the Denver Nuggets. He's been aggressive on defense and has shown an ability to score in a variety of ways.
If you don't remember him, it's probably because he was drafted all the way back in 2009.
23. Meyers Leonard: Center, Portland Trail Blazers
Preseason Stats: 6.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.0 BLKPG
Last 3: 8 pts, 4 reb, 1 blk vs. UTAH; 4 pts, 6 reb, 1 blk vs. GSW; 6 pts, 3 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk vs. DEN
Many argued that the Blazers should've gone with Tyler Zeller over Meyers Leonard at No. 11, but he does everything Portland needs. He gets into heavy foul trouble (just like Greg Oden), but Leonard has been active on defense, somewhat crashes the boards and is super athletic, especially off the pick-and-roll.
22. Austin Rivers: Guard, New Orleans Hornets
Preseason Stats: 7.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.0 APG
Last 3: 6 pts, 4 ast vs. MIA; 0 pts, 14 min vs. DAL; 11 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl vs. ATL
I’d go out on a limb and call Austin Rivers the least efficient player in this draft class, and I’m probably right. He took 59 shots in the preseason and only nailed sixteen (16) of them—that’s a droplet over 27 percent from the field over eight games.
What makes it worse is that coach Monty Williams is being extremely patient with him. Rivers has played more minutes than any guard drafted with him not named Damian Lillard and only has 7.3 points per game to show for it. He’s quickly falling down my power rankings, and if he doesn’t step it up, he’ll fall right out of it.
21. Terrence Ross: Shooting Guard, Toronto Raptors
Preseason Stats: 6.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG
Last 3: 10 pts, 2 stl vs. MEM; 2 pts, 5 min vs. NYK; 5 pts, 2 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk vs. DET
I haven't seen Terrence Ross play yet, but his stats have proven him to be more efficient than Austin Rivers in significantly less playing time.
20. Jeremy Lamb: Shooting Guard, Houston Rockets TRADED TO OKC
Preseason Stats: 6.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 APG
Last 3: 0 pts, 2 reb, 6 min vs. ORL; 5 pts, 3 ast vs. NOH; 2 pts, 1 stl, 12 min vs. MEM
I love Jeremy Lamb in Oklahoma City. He gets to be on a winning team that will demand nothing but the absolute best from him. This is exactly what he needed for him to get out of his shooting funk.
19. Royce White: Forward, Houston Rockets
Preseason Stats: 2.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.0 APG
Last 3: 2 pts, 2 ast, 13 min vs. ORL; 7 pts, 3 reb, 1 blk vs. DAL
I'm probably the only guy who still has faith in Royce White, but he hasn't gotten playing time to show his skills. He needs to somehow beat his anxiety disorder and travel with the team, but I think that, once he gets settled in, White will become the dominating player we saw at Iowa State.
Rookies No. 13-18
Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
18. Khris Middleton: Forward, Detroit Pistons
Preseason Stats: 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.0 APG
Last 4: 3 pts, 1 ast, 1 stl, 4 min vs. ATL; 5 pts, 3 reb, 10 min vs. MIA; 5 pts, 1 reb, 8 min vs. ORL; 11 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl vs. MIL
I've been so impressed with Khris Middleton's ability to do so much in such a short bit of time. Lawrence Frank absolutely has to give this guy a solid spot in the rotation if he wants the Pistons to start turning the ship around.
17. Tyler Zeller: Center, Cleveland Cavaliers
Pre-Season Stats: 8.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG
Last 3: 13 pts, 7 reb, 1 blk, 1 stl vs. IND; 6 pts, 2 reb vs. PHI; 8 pts, 5 reb vs. ORL
Zeller hasn't made much happen on defense, but we expected this. He's a center that can pop out to around 15-18 feet and knock down jumpers. Great for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters to have someone to dump the ball out to.
16. Dion Waiters: Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers
Preseason Stats: 8.6 PPG, 2.1 APG, 2.0 RPG
Last 3: 12 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl vs. IND; 5 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl vs. PHI; 8 pts, 2 ast vs. ORL
Not impressed with Dion Waiters one bit, especially since he skipped the line to get picked up third in the draft. They've given him every chance to show what he's worth, and he still hasn't lived up to the hype.
I didn't watch much of him at Syracuse either, so here's to hoping Cleveland didn't blow it with their 2012 NBA Draft pick.
15. John Henson: Forward, Miilwaukee Bucks INJURED
Preseason Stats: 7.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.6 BLKPG
Last 3: 4 pts, 1 reb vs. CHI; 12 pts, 6 reb, 4 blk, 4 ast vs. DET; 6 pts, 7 reb, 1 blk vs. CLE
Henson looked so promising until he sprained his left knee. Hopefully he doesn't lose any of that bounce he had when he gets back to the court.
14. Perry Jones III: Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder
Preseason Stats: 9.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG
Last 3: 2 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast vs. DAL; 14 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast vs. CHI; 4 pts, 2 reb, 1 stl vs. DEN
I haven't seen Perry Jones play once this entire preseason, but the general consensus is that OKC got a steal for him late in the first round. I'll come back next time with a better analysis after I've seen him play a few games.
13. Andre Drummond: Forward/Center, Detroit Pistons
Preseason Stats: 9.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG
Last 3: 13 pts, 10 reb, 2 blk vs. ATL; 2 reb, 9 min vs. MIN; 8 pts, 7 reb vs. CHA
People talk about Andre Drummond the same way they talk about Perry Jones. They can play at a high level if they feel like it. Their stats reflect that same mentality. Some games they put up monster numbers, and the next day, you can't even find them on the court.
I do think, though, that Drummond will develop into the best center in this draft class.
Rookies No. 12-6
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12. Donatas Motiejunas: Forward-Center, Houston Rockets
Preseason Stats: 9.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Last 3: 12 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast vs. ORL; 8 pts, 5 ast, 1 blk vs. DAL; 16 pts, 8 reb vs. SAS
I almost forgot to include Motiejunas in this list because he was picked up in last year's draft. I had him pegged as a sort of Dirk Nowitzki 2.0, but he'll have to develop his jumper a lot more before earning that honor.
Motiejunas does many things well. He'll have to bulk up to avoid getting shoved around down low, but his offensive game is so well-rounded, it more than compensates for his frame. Still, at seven feet and only 22-years old, the Lithuanian big man has a chance to become one of the better shooting bigs in the NBA.
11. Terrence Jones: Power Forward, Houston Rockets
Preseason Stats: 10.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.2 BLKPG
Last 3: 4 pts, 2 blk vs. ORL; 15 pts, 9 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk vs. NOH; 9 pts, 5 reb, 2 blk vs. MEM
Terrence Jones has been a great blue-collar type of player who's getting his minutes by doing all the grunt work down low. I'd like to see him get a few more looks in the low post, though.
10. Jae Crowder: Forward, Dallas Mavericks
Preseason Stats: 11.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.875 STLPG, 1.6 APG
Last 3: 11 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk vs. CHA; 21 pts, 9 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl vs. OKC; 12 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk vs. NOH
Crowder made a name for himself as a do-it-all kind of guy in the Summer League, and has kept his reputation in tact. He's rebounding better than some of the bigs drafted next to him and has been a better scorer than many of the bigger named guards picked up in the first round.
Talk about a steal for Dallas.
9. Thomas Robinson: Power Forward, Sacramento Kings
Preseason Stats: 7.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.2 STLPG
Last 3: 17 pts, 8 reb,1 stl vs. PHX; 6 pts, 4 reb vs. LAL; 8 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl vs. LAL
That is all.
8. Jonas Valanciunas: Center, Toronto Raptors
Preseason Stats: 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 BLKPG
Last 3: 15 pts, 7 reb, 1 stl 1 blk vs. MEM; 10 pts, 8 reb, 4 blk, 1 stl vs. MIL; 4 pts, 10 reb, 1 blk vs. NYK
How many of you guys forgot that Toronto picked up Valanciunas in last year's draft? He's been a monster on the boards, and had a sick highlight where he had a monster dunk against the Wizards.
He'll be a great piece to build around with Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
7. Harrison Barnes: Small Forward, Golden State Warriors
Preseason Stats: 10.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG
Last 3: 16 pts, 7 reb, 1 stl vs. PHX; 9 pts, 3 reb vs. LAC; 6 pts, 1 ast vs. POR
Once Harrison Barnes learns to create for himself, he'll be the best player in this draft. Barnes shoots well, can defend and gets out on breaks, but if there's a defender in his face (like Nicolas Batum was for Portland), the ball is coming right out of his hands.
6. Jared Sullinger: Forward, Boston Celtics
Preseason Stats: 10.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG,
Last 3: 11 pts,6 reb vs. PHI; 10 pts, 8 reb, 1 stl vs. NYK; 12 pts, 6 reb vs. BKN
I was a HUGE Sully fan back when he was at Ohio State, and seeing him destroy all the teams that passed up on him brings nothing but endless joy to my life.
Sullinger's showed every facet of his game: He's shot the ball well, posted up and crashed the boards. He's not an athlete or a shot blocker, but Boston doesn't need him to be. He's filling the role of a stretch four very well.
Top 5 Rookies
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5. Chris Copeland: Forward, New York Knicks
Preseason Stats: 15.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG
Last 3: 16 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast vs. BKN; 15 pts vs. PHI; 34 pts, 6 reb, 2 stl vs. BOS
Here's a guy who nobody knew about that came to arguably the biggest market of them all and hijacked the spotlight. The guy's a 28-year old rookie that defied the odds and made the N.Y. Knicks' jam-packed roster.
Chris Copeland can fill it up, but like many of the Knicks on the roster, he struggles defensively. With Amar'e Stoudemire out for a couple weeks recovering from a knee injury, we might get an early dosage of Copeland in our diets.
4. Andrew Nicholson: Power Forward, Orlando Magic
Preseason Stats: 10.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.14 BLKPG
Last 3: 5 pts, 7 reb vs. HOU; 5 pts, 6 reb, 1 stl vs. MEM; 18 pts, 2 blk vs. SAS
I don't know much about Andrew Nicholson, but he's been great at helping Orlando forget about Dwight Howard. Especially after that 18-point outburst against San Antonio, he and Jameer Nelson will become best friends once he gets set in the rotation.
3. Bradley Beal: Guard, Washington Wizards
Preseason Stats: 11.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 APG
Last 3: 0 pts, 19 min vs. SAS; 9 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl, ast vs. MIA; 10 pts, 4 reb vs. MIL
Brad Beal's been in attack mode all preseason long which is exactly what John Wall needs to help get the Wizards back to being relevant in the NBA.
The young Ray Allen comparisons were a bit too extreme, but Beal's got a cocked-and-loaded rifle that he's unafraid to fire. Playing next to Wall, he should get plenty of open looks.
2. Damian Lillard: Point Guard, Portland Trail Blazers
Preseason Stats: 16.2 PPG, 5.8 APG, 2.5 RPG
Last 3: 12 pts, 5 ast vs. UTAH; 21 pts, 8 ast, 4 reb, 2 stl vs. UTAH; 15 pts, 7 ast vs. GSW
There have been a few menial rookie mistakes here and there, but Damian Lillard has been all that AND a bag of chips (yes, I went there) for the Portland Trail Blazers.
He's a bit prone to turning the ball over, but Lillard's shown a poise in running this Blazers team that no other rookie in the draft class has. He can shoot the three, but more importantly, he's been great at running the pick-and-pop with LaMarcus Aldridge and dumping the ball out at the perfect moment.
Damian Lillard for president, anyone?
1. Anthony Davis: Power Forward, New Orleans Hornets
Preseason Stats: 14.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.57 BLKPG
Last 3: 24 pts, 11 reb, 3 stl, 1 blk vs. MIA; 13 pts, 8 reb, 2 stl, 3 blk vs. HOU; 6 pts, 17 reb, 2 blk vs. DAL
We knew he'd make some noise in the NBA once he was selected to travel with Team USA, but Anthony Davis has lived up to and exceeded the hype that latches itself onto a No. 1 overall pick.
The Brow has been incredibly efficient, as any big man should be, but has also shown the ability to help from the weak side and close out on shooters on the wing.
While Lillard will give him a run for his money, Davis is looking like the clear front-runner for the 2013 Rookie of the Year Award.
NBA Preseason Rookie Power Rankings
Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
|13.||Perry Jones III||F||OKC||10.00|
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