2012-13 NBA Rookie Film Review: What Does the Tape Say About Top Youngsters?
Now over a month into their rookie seasons, the 2012 draft class can finally begin to be scouted on an NBA level.
For rookies Damian Lillard, Dion Waiters, Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes, a lot can be learned about their game, strengths and weaknesses by watching a little bit of film.
Here's some visual analysis of their games at this point in their young NBA careers.
Dion Waiters Fears Nothing, Not Even Bad Shots
Pick: No. 4 overall
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Key Stat: 36.3 percent field-goal shooting
Waiters has been solid for the Cavaliers thus far with 15.2 points per game, second among all rookies.
While his scoring is high, so are his shot attempts.
For the season, Waiters is averaging 15.1 shot attempts from the field, nearly identical to Damian Lillard's 15.2. The difference is efficiency. In almost the same amount of shots hoisted up, Lillard is outscoring Waiters 19.1 to 15.2 due to his 42.7 percent shooting.
As seen from the tape, Waiters isn't afraid to shoot with a hand or two in his face, taking some tightly contested three-pointers even though they were falling that night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Waiters has the confidence and bravado of a high NBA draft pick, but sometimes it can be his downfall.
The Syracuse product must improve his decision-making and shot selection and work on getting more open to improve his efficiency.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Is a Defensive Whiz
Pick: No. 2 overall
Team: Charlotte Bobcats
Key Stats: 1.4 blocks, 1.1 steals per game
Defense doesn't often make the highlight reel, but MKG's strong play deserves to.
Second among qualified rookies in blocked shots despite being a wing, Kidd-Gilchrist has brought his defensive mastery from Kentucky to the upstart Bobcats this season.
A couple of great defensive qualities we can see in MKG are his strength in playing the passing lanes, nonstop hand activity and anticipation.
Kidd-Gilchrist is always aware of where the ball is, while still keeping close tabs on his man. He can seemingly watch what the ball-handler is doing while in man-to-man and still play the passing lanes perfectly, frequently resulting in steals.
His long arms and anticipation of when shots are going up help him to rack up his 1.4 blocks per game, while his hand activity is always pressuring defenders into mistakes.
With his defensive prowess and high PER (17.20), MKG is looking like a possible contender for Rookie of the Year.
Harrison Barnes Has NBA Athleticism
Pick: No. 7 overall
Team: Golden State Warriors
Key Stat: 39.5-inch vertical leap
Barnes slipped a little bit in the draft due to questions over his athleticism and ability to create for himself while on the court.
Questions about his athleticism should now be answered.
The former UNC product has played well in a starting role so far (9.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 46 percent from field), but it was this dunk (shown) that made NBA fans sit up and take notice.
Possibly the dunk of the year thus far, it's got to be a relief to the Warriors to realize they got a special talent in Barnes despite his draft questions.
Another reason for optimism is that only about a fourth of his shots are three-pointers, which is a good sign that Barnes isn't just settling for outside shots.
Andre Drummond Is Active Around the Basket, but Lacks a Post Game
Pick: No. 9 overall
Team: Detroit Pistons
Key Stats: 20.41 PER, second among qualified rookies
According to John Hollinger, Drummond is the second-most efficient rookie in the NBA today.
Despite receiving just 16.9 minutes per game, Drummond is still pulling down 6.2 rebounds and swatting 1.3 shots. His field-goal percentage is an impressive 55.1 percent, despite the fact he couldn't hit a free throw if his 19-year-old life depended on it.
Still, Drummond has to be considered a success at this point. Questions about motor and work ethic plagued him in his one season at UConn, but so far he has been quite the opposite.
Here we see Drummond scoring off lots of tips, rebounds and second-chance opportunities. His post game is M.I.A., which can be expected of a big man so young.
A lot of these points and rebounds could have easily gone to someone else had his motor not been turned on against Milwaukee. His efforts on the boards, boxing out opponents and staying with the play are all encouraging signs for Pistons fans.
Damian Lillard Has a Near Perfect Stroke
Pick: No. 6 overall
Team: Portland Trail Blazers
Key Stats: 19.1 points per game, 38.9 percent shooting on threes
It's good to see Lillard was paying attention when learning the fundamental shooting form during P.E. class.
Lillard has about as sweet and simple a stroke as anyone in the NBA. His balance, eyes, elbow and follow-through are precisely what you would want your son to copy.
What's also nice about his shot is how little time it takes to leave his hands. Being just 6'3" on a court full of giants, Lillard doesn't have the time to load up and fire and must rely on his quick wrists to keep shots from getting blocked.
There's a reason Lillard is the most dynamic rookie scorer in the NBA today, and he will likely take home top rookie honors.