Rookie Stock Watch: Tracking the NBA Youth Movement

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

Rookie Stock Watch: Tracking the NBA Youth Movement

0 of 11

    Recently, most of the 2012-13 NBA rookies have looked like, well, rookies.

    There are exceptions of course, but overall, the group of youngsters battled inconsistency on both ends of the floor. It didn't help that the biggest star of all the rookies remained on the sideline.

    This exhibition of inconsistency allowed for a trio of ballers to make their first appearance in our weekly stock watch rankings.

    We're hitting a point in the season where the demanding schedule requires an extra amount of physical and mental sharpness, and some rookies are handling it better than others.

    Who took a step forward, and who took a step back? Find out as we break down the NBA's 2012-13 youth movement.

    Statistics gathered from NBA.com.

Best of the Rest

1 of 11

    Brian Roberts, New Orleans Hornets guard: Stock is Up (10 points, five assists vs. MIL)

    Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors F/C: Stock is Down (Two points, two rebounds at MEM)

    John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks F/C: Stock is Steady (10 points, seven rebounds at MIN)

    Pablo Prigioni, New York Knicks guard: Stock is Steady (11 points, seven assists at MIL)

    Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons F/C: Stock is Steady (Seven points, 12 rebounds vs. CLE)

10. Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors G

2 of 11

    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: Unranked

    We swapped out one Toronto Raptors rookie (Jonas Valanciunas) for another. Terrence Ross has higher stock after a pair of double-digit scoring games.

    When he dropped 19 points on the Houston Rockets, Ross finally showed the kind of playmaking skills the Raptors hoped to get out of the eighth overall pick.

    He hasn't found his long-distance shooting stroke from the NBA line yet, as inconsistency plagues his three-point shooting. But he's finding his way to the rim in the half-court setting, and he's also wreaking havoc in the open court.

    Will Ross stay on this list for more than a week, or will his teammate's stock rise again and bounce him from the ranks?

9. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors F

3 of 11

    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 6

    After another ineffectual week, Harrison Barnes' stock took another dip.

    He was almost a non-factor in Golden State's narrow victory over Denver, but during his limited time on the court, he still passes the eye test.

    Barnes possesses good awareness on defense, and he's become more comfortable driving and dishing on offense.

    If he can regain his shooting consistency, he'll climb back up the charts. The next couple weeks will be a test of his maturity as the Warriors embark on a seven-game road trip to the East Coast.

8. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards G

4 of 11

    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 8

    Bradley Beal's relatively underwhelming start to the 2012-13 season is due in part to the Wizards' horrendous start and John Wall's absence.

    But he's still a threat to score more than a dozen on any given night, and he did again in a losing effort to the Knicks, dropping 14 on 5-of-11 shooting.

    The most encouraging aspect of Beal's week was that he was a bit more efficient shooting the ball. However, he's still not delivering the kind of offensive production the squad needs to compete on a daily basis.

7. Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers F/C

5 of 11

    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: Unranked

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward/center Tyler Zeller's play has improved over the last few weeks, and his recent double-double against Portland was the final push for him to make his debut in our stock watch rankings.

    Anderson Varejao needs a lot more help in the paint than Zeller can provide, but Zeller is playing pretty well for a rookie.

    Although he's a post player who works extremely well around the basket, he's also adept outside. For example, four of his six made field goals against the Blazers were between 17-20 feet away from the basket.

    If he can sustain that kind of inside-outside effectiveness, he will be a regular on this list.

6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats F

6 of 11

    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 4

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did little to separate himself from the rest of the rookie crowd this week, as his mediocre production wasn't enough to propel the Bobcats to victory.

    He continues to be one of Charlotte's best rebounders even though he's a small forward. Offensively, he's doing most of his work inside, and he's shooting 7-of-14 on post-ups. But he does pick his spots to attempt mid-range jumpers throughout the game.

    Kidd-Gilchrist isn't getting quite as much playing time as some of the other rookies such as Damian Lillard or Dion Waiters, but he's still a crucial component for the Bobcats.

    If they want to make some real noise in the Southwest Division, he needs to be more involved and successful on each Charlotte possession.

5. Jeff Taylor, Charlotte Bobcats F

7 of 11

    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: Unranked

    Over the past three weeks, Charlotte Bobcats swingman Jeff Taylor has gradually crept up the rookie hierarchy, and he finally breaks into the top 10 after another hot shooting week.

    Mike Dunlap primarily uses Taylor as a perimeter threat, and Taylor has filled this role efficiently: He's shooting 44 percent from the field and 39 percent from distance.

    But outside shooting isn't his only contribution, as he uses his athleticism to make plays defensively and force turnovers in bunches.

    Taylor faces a healthy share of playoff-caliber competition this upcoming week, as the Bobcats face New York, San Antonio and Golden State. Will his ranking go up or down at this time next week?

4. Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves G

8 of 11

    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 9

    Alexey Shved bounced back from a down week to give the Minnesota Timberwolves a big lift off the bench. His efforts helped the club win two of its last three games.

    Out of all the Wolves' offseason acquisitions, Shved has turned out to be the only overachiever.

    He's not shooting a great percentage—39 percent from the field, 31 percent from three—but he's constantly making plays and creating opportunities in his 24 minutes per game.

    During his mini-slump, Minnesota was winless. Now that he's back in a groove, the injury-plagued team is much more competitive, scoring 95-plus points per night.

3. Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons F

9 of 11

    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 7

    He's not the type of talent that can carry Detroit back to relevance, but Kyle Singler is one of the bright spots and a player who could be a key part of future playoff teams.

    Singler had a solid week that was capped by a superb performance in the Pistons' win over the Cavaliers. He scored 15, grabbed six boards and had the highest plus/minus of any player on either team. His made three of Detroit's four three-pointers.

    In a year when many Pistons players have either been disappointing or injured, Singler has been pleasantly productive.

2. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers G

10 of 11

    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 3

    Even though he missed Cleveland's showdown with Detroit due to an ankle injury, Dion Waiters' stock is up because he had a nice week scoring and dishing the rock.

    In typical Waiters fashion, it took him a boatload of shots to get his points, but his passing is only getting better. He recorded three straight games of seven assists, as he's shouldered most of the facilitating responsibilities while Kyrie Irving heals.

    The Cavaliers' offensive bottom line is directly linked to Waiters' productivity. When he shoots the ball well while running the offense, the team can score 100 or more and has a better chance of winning.

    When he's off, or not even in the game, hitting 80 is a burden for this team.

1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers G

11 of 11

    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 1

    Back-to-back 24-point outings keep Damian Lillard atop the rankings, but his East Coast road trip wasn't peachy every night.

    Boston effectively bottled him up and didn't give him many good looks, and the result was a blowout loss for the Trail Blazers.

    Lillard has also occasionally struggled with foul trouble and turnovers, but he usually makes up for it with substantial production.

    In Portland's overtime win over Charlotte, Lillard helped ignite the Blazers' fourth-quarter comeback and went to the free-throw line 14 times throughout the game.

    He'll maintain a stranglehold on the top spot as long as he keeps facilitating and scoring at a high clip. But will it be enough to get Portland over .500?

    For more NBA chatter, follow me on Twitter: @Danielobleacher