5 NBA Rookies Whose Hot Starts Are Early-Season Mirages

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2012

5 NBA Rookies Whose Hot Starts Are Early-Season Mirages

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    The 2012-13 NBA rookie class has turned in some impressive performances so far this season, and many of the newcomers are off to hot starts.

    But for some of them, it won't last.

    Call it beginner's luck, call it unprepared opponents or call it unsustainable success. For these rookies, it will be short-lived.

    We have to remember that it's the first week of December, and there are nearly five months left in the regular season. For several of these ballers, their team situations and rotations will change in the near future with veterans returning from injury. 

    Which rookies' hot starts are early-season mirages?

    Statistics gathered from NBA.com and are accurate as of 12/7/12.

Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves G

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    Stats: 24.9 MPG 10.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, 40 percent FG

    Russian rookie Alexey Shved has provided a great boost off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves over the first month of the season, and it looks like he's going to carve out a solid NBA career.

    But I wouldn't expect him to keep up his current production once Ricky Rubio gets back.

    When the Wolves' prized sophomore returns to the lineup, there will be a bit less playing time for Shved, along with fewer touches per game.

    Shved is good, but Minnesota doesn't have as much invested in him as Rubio, who is a featured piece for the franchise.

    The 15-point, six-assist nights won't be nearly as frequent for Shved.

Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers G

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    Stats: 32 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 3.4 APG

    Kyrie Irving's new sidekick, Dion Waiters, can score in bunches and use his athleticism to make plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's already had a few 20-plus-point performances that are impressive for a rookie.

    But he's not ready to help Irving lead the team to the playoffs—not until he learns to be more efficient as a combo guard.

    Both his shot selection and overall decision-making in the halfcourt setting need refining. He must become more patient, even with the roster he's working with.

    His points-per-game numbers and occasional seven-assist nights seem impressive, but his 12.5 PER and 43 percent effective field goal percentage show that it costs the Cavaliers too much in the process.

Brian Roberts, New Orleans Hornets G

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    Stats: 15.4 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 46 percent FG, 16.6 PER

    One of the most impressive surprises of the 2012-13 rookie class is New Orleans Hornets guard Brian Roberts. The 27-year-old rookie quickly become an important part of Monty Williams' backcourt, supplying a much-needed offensive boost in just 15 minutes per game.

    Don't bank on continued production all the way to the finish line, however.

    Once Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon (eventually) return, Roberts will see a diminished role in the everyday rotation and get fewer touches. Davis and Gordon are both Olympic-caliber players who will make the lion's share of the team's plays.

    Roberts has been a pleasant surprise in the NBA ranks, but his honeymoon will unfortunately end in the coming months.

Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons

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    Stats: 27.6 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 45 percent FG

    Can Kyle Singler keep this hot shooting up?

    The Detroit Pistons' 2011 draftee is hitting his three-point attempts at a 45 percent clip, which isn't unearthly, but it's extremely tough to keep up for an entire season.

    Only the top three to five long-distance shooters in the NBA will finish with a triple percentage of 45 percent or higher, so unless Singler is ready to hang with the likes of Steve Novak, Stephen Curry and Ray Allen, he'll be closer to 40 percent or less.

    Singler is a talented all-around player, but Pistons fans and Singler fans can't expect him to maintain such a blistering pace for the next three quarters of the season.

Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic

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    Stats: 12.8 MPG, 6.7 PPG, 54 percent FG

    The way the Orlando Magic are playing this year, there's almost nothing you can count on, including forward Andrew Nicholson.

    He's shooting 54 percent from the field and is posting solid per-minute offense, but his minutes, touches and shot attempts are all inconsistent.

    A look at Nicholson's game logs reveals that his impressive shooting percentage is indeed a mirage, because his overall production and percentage often fall short on nights when Orlando could have used more out of him.

    Right now, his success is too dependent on his unreliable teammates. As a result, both Nicholson and the Magic are having a roller coaster season. As the season wears on, his shooting efficiency will dip to 50 percent or lower.

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