NBA Rookie Rankings 2012: The Fab 5
Every year, rookies enter the NBA with hopes of making their new teams, families and friends proud of the fact they were drafted. Usually the lottery picks make quite the impact, but in today's NBA, many late-first- and second-round draft picks surprise their respective teams with their solid play.
The game has grown so much internationally that players from all over the world come into the league, and many just aren't aware of their abilities. In 2012, the NBA brought in a new slew of rookies and, as in every draft, there will be busts and surprises.
With the first couple of games over, let's take a look at the first set of the fab five rookies so far.
Blue Devil Making His Mark
5. Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons
The 6'8" forward from Duke has had a solid week to begin this season. The do-it-all forward is shooting 57 percent from three-point range and is averaging almost nine points a game. Playing on a young rebuilding team will give the 24-year-old plenty of opportunity to shine.
He is getting 20-plus minutes and is shooting over 60 percent from the field to go along with three rebounds. Singler is a steady and intelligent player who will do what is asked of him. He reminds me of a young Mike Dunleavy.
Defense Wins Games
4. Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks
The No. 34 pick in the draft knows he has plenty to prove as a second-round pick, and he has done exactly that so far. The defensive wizard out of Marquette most certainly has the physical ability to hang around the league for years to come. As a power forward in college, Crowder will have to make the transition to small forward now.
At 6'6" and a powerfully built 235 pounds, he will give opposing forwards fits with his tenacity. In barely 20 minutes of play, Crowder is scoring almost nine points a game. But what he is doing on the other end is what is going to keep him on the hardwood. He reminds some of Kawhi Leonard or DeMarre Carroll, with his game being closer to Carroll's at this point.
Waiters Is Here to Serve You
3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
Dion Waiters, the surprise early pick of the 2012 NBA draft, comes into the league with many expectations. During the preseason his game was up and down, and he had trouble finding his niche on his new team. As the season started, Waiters' game is showing itself in various ways.
He is scoring over 16 points a game, and he's becoming more comfortable on the court. He will be a stat filler because he does many things well on the court. Waiters will remind some of a raw Dwyane Wade with his ability to attack the basket. He exploded for 28 points in a recent win while shooting a torrid 7-of-11 from three-point range.
Big Man on Campus
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
The No. 1 pick is playing solid basketball so far this year. Before a minor concussion put a short halt to the current season, Davis was scoring a more than respectable 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and almost two blocks a game.
In his first game versus the Spurs, he showed Tim Duncan a glimpse of the future by pouring in 21 points that included a couple of smooth-looking jump shots from the wing. The comparisons to Marcus Camby and Joakim Noah are accurate to a degree. Davis was a former guard who sprouted to become the big man he is today.
His perimeter skills are far more advanced than the other two, and his jump shot looks years ahead of them as well. He might end up on top of the list by season's end, but right now, he is taking a backseat to Lillard.
Damian Has Plenty of Drive
1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Some are looking at Mr. Lillard as the next great one based on his play so far. They say rookies usually play a little scared during the season, but this certainly is not the case as Lillard is scoring over 21 points a game. He plays the game with great swagger and believes in what he is doing.
The immediate comparisons he's receiving are Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, but I'm thinking more of a Kyrie Irving or Dwyane Wade type with more handle than Wade and a bit more range than both. His step is lightning fast, and he is still getting others involved as his nine assists showcase.
Is he proving that staying in school is cool as the four-year Weber State star has continued his high level of play in the pros? This may be the case, as he seems to play with no fear and has an extremely high basketball IQ. Let's see how long he keeps this up.