NBA Rookies Who Are Making the Draft Experts Look Like Fools
Some people criticize others for being too judgmental. I'm not one of them.
It's November 15 already. We've seen enough to call out misfiring scouts and poor evaluations, right? Right.
Some of these guys have played better than their draft position suggests. Others have not. After just two weeks of NBA play, why not take a look at who's been proving the experts wrong through their first few games?
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
I think it's fair to say that Damian Lillard went four picks too late.
Though Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will likely have a bright career, he seems to be more of a player you build with, not around. Someone who plays off better players, instead of others playing off him.
Unfortunately for M.K.G, there isn't really anyone to play off of in Charlotte.
Lillard appears to be the floor general Portland was looking for. He effectively balances scoring with playmaking, knowing when to attack and when to facilitate.
As a scoring point guard, he's the full package. He can get to the hole and finish, pull up in the mid-range and knock down three-pointers.
He'll continue to grow as a distributor, but he's already averaging 6.6 assists and looks comfortable and confident doing it.
Lillard is a long-term building block and fixture at the point guard position. He should have at least been considered as the second pick overall.
Kendall Marshall, Phoenix Suns
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After selecting him 13th overall, Phoenix has buried Kendall Marshall on the depth chart.
And if you watched him during summer ball or preseason, you probably know why.
Marshall has looked incredibly passive offensively, which is partly due to the fact that he's simply not very good at it.
His lack of speed and athleticism haven't allowed him to facilitate the way he could in the methodical half-court college game. The "best pure point guard" in the draft is starting to look like a pure benchwarmer.
Remember Marcus Williams from Connecticut? Same dude.
Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks
He's the prime example of measurements being nothing more than silly numbers.
Crowder doesn't have a position, and that scared people. He was the Big East Player of the Year, playing power forward despite having shooting guard size.
He certainly doesn't look like a guard, so when he measured in at 6'3'' in socks this summer, Crowder was crossed off a lot of lists—mine included.
He's one of those Kenneth Faried types who just has the strength, athleticism and instincts to make up for inches.
The Mavericks look to have found themselves a cheap source of production and possibly a long-term rotation player. That's how you're supposed to use the second round.
Moe Harkless, Orlando Magic
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Moe Harkless has remained under the radar, after getting shipped away in the Dwight Howard deal.
But Orlando got itself a player, and nobody seems to have noticed.
He's an athletic combo-forward with the mobility of a small forward mixed with the size and instincts of a power forward. If his potential is reached, Harkless has legitimate top-five upside.
In limited minutes over the past week getting his first burn of the year, Harkless collected seven points, five boards, two assists, two blocks and three steals in 22 minutes at Minnesota, and picked up 10 points, seven boards and four blocks against the Knicks in 19 minutes.
That's the type of player he is because of his versatility, length and athleticism. He can contribute in multiple facets of the game, and he should be a legitimate building block for Orlando moving forward.
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Before last year, some considered Andre Drummond as the potential No. 1 overall pick. But he struggled to adjust at the college level, lost some supporters and eventually drew skeptics.
He's one of those unique young kids who's an NBA prospect regardless of his talent.
At 6'10'' with a strong, powerful body and sick, explosive athleticism, Drummond can play the game without even knowing how to dribble. And that's exactly how he's contributed to Detroit's offense.
Drummond has been making plays off the ball, usually at the rim as either a finisher or clean-up man. He's using his physical tools to his advantage at only 19 years old.
Imagine five years from now, when he's a veteran at only 24? Drummond could end up being a steal at No. 9.
Fab Melo, Boston Celtics
Melo is a project way too far from finished for my liking. At least for a valuable first-round pick.
As a freshman at Syracuse, you weren't sure if he knew which basket his team was scoring on. He came back and improved, blocking more shots and making a higher percentage of his field-goal attempts inside.
But his ceiling is backup center.
Size doesn't always equal production, especially with a basketball IQ like Melo's. His outlook in the pros projects to second-round production.
Thomas Robinsin, Sacramento Kings
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While it's too early to be concerned, it's never too early to question.
Robinson went five overall and was regarded as a top-five shoe-in heading into the draft.
The concern here is whether or not Robinson is good enough to consistently get easy baskets playing the 4. Because he's certainly not a natural fit at the 3.
T-Rob has struggled to stay on the floor, which is disappointing for Kings fans who must be sick of Jason Thompson.
It's obviously way too early to judge, but I might have gone in a different direction at No. 5 knowing what I know now.