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Re-Writing Top Rookie Scouting Reports 2 Months into NBA Season

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

Re-Writing Top Rookie Scouting Reports 2 Months into NBA Season

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    Entering the 2012-13 NBA season, nobody quite knew what to expect from the most recent rookie class. Several of them were highly touted, yet there were a number of unanswered questions.

    From the first pick in the draft to undrafted free agents, several rookies have already made an impact. While the group as a whole may not be as star-studded as we once believed, there have been standouts.

    A lot has yet to be determined, but it's safe to say we know more now than we did in June.

     

    *All statistics are accurate as of Jan. 2, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

10. Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards

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    By The Numbers: No. 3 pick, 12.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 11.60 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    B/R's Josh Martin touted Beal as a shooter, writing that the former Florida Gator would have to work at creating his own shot. But in kick-out situations, he'd be the guy for the Washington Wizards.

    He was also expected to help bolster a perimeter defense and rebound if allowed to crash the boards on a regular basis.

    Updated Scouting Report

    Beal hasn't been the shooter people in Washington hoped he'd be. But considering how long it took him to find his shot in Florida, fans have to be patient. He's getting good looks, but he's just not making enough of them two months into his professional career.

    The shooting guard has shown that he can be a distributor, but those moments haven't been often enough to prove he should have control of the offense as a primary playmaker. He's good with the ball in his hands, but his niche still appears to be off the ball, especially when his shot is falling.

    Then again, we can't truly evaluate Beal in the Wizards' offense until we see him alongside John Wall. Once the point guard returns, we'll get to see how Beal plays with a floor general who takes away the pressure of creating shots.

9. Kyle Singler, SF, Detroit Pistons

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    By The Numbers: No. 33 pick (2011), 8.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, 9.97 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    According to DraftExpress, Kyle Singler began to find consistency in his jump shot while playing for Real Madrid in his first year away from Duke. His inside scoring took a hit as a result, but his points-per-game average was the highest among his European teammates.

    Coming out of college, his role was expected to be that of a spot-up shooter. His athleticism has never been elite, which made him a concern on defense.

    Updated Scouting Report

    If you're trying to project Singler as a superstar in this league, you're being generously optimistic. That being said, he's shown flashes of "very-goodness" in his first season with the Detroit Pistons. Descriptions like "glue guy" and "solid role player" are likely to follow him throughout his career.

    His shot has been a bit inconsistent, but what's encouraging is that his basketball IQ has allowed him to make smart decisions with the ball. And if he continues to develop his shot—both inside and outside—those looks will translate into makes more often as he matures.

    Defensively, Singler has answered some of the questions people had coming into the league. He still has trouble stopping bigger players in low-post situations, but he's done a decent job containing players out on the perimeter. He's not being matched up against the LeBron Jameses or the Kevin Durants of the league, but he's limiting his opponents' scoring opportunities, which is all the Pistons can ask.

8. Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors

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    By The Numbers: No. 5 pick (2011), 7.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 14.54 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    According to DraftExpress, Valanciunas was a player who could score efficiently in international competition. His foul shooting was solid, his mid-range jumper was improving and his back-to-the-basket game was noteworthy.

    On defense, the big man had a tendency to foul, which could be a problem in a more physical NBA game. 

    Updated Scouting Report

    The Toronto Raptors have given Valanciunas a starting role in his first year, and while he's only playing 22.4 minutes per game, he's done a good job of making his impact felt on both ends of the floor.

    When it come to his offense, the center has shown that he knows how to score the ball, but he often makes the mistake of thinking too much before making his move. When he acts quickly and makes his move to the rim is when he's most effective. You want him to work on his fundamentals, but the offseason might be a better time to try out new moves than against top-tier competition.

    On defense, he's averaging about three fouls per game, which wouldn't be too bad if he were playing a solid 30 minutes. He's going to have to work on staying physical while improving his timing, but his one block per game is encouraging at this point.

    Valanciunas hasn't exactly turned the Raptors' franchise around through two months of play, but it's all about progress with the big man. If he can become more consistent, he'll be well on his way to a solid NBA career.

7. Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    By The Numbers: No. 4 pick, 14.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 11.35 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    B/R's Josh Martin wrote that the shooting guard was the kind of player who would help spread the floor for Kyrie Irving. But more importantly, he would help the transition game on both offense and defense.

    His size and ability at the rim were his best assets. His shot selection needed the most work as he transitioned to the NBA.

    Updated Scouting Report

    There's no denying that Waiters has been one of the most productive rookies of the 2012 draft class, but his productivity has clearly come at the expense of his efficiency.

    The good news is that he is starting to hit his three-point shot. The bad news is that nobody can claim he's turned a corner with his shot selection. Taking bad shots only gets you so far, and while Waiters has made a number of those bad shots, he's struggling to boost his awful field-goal percentage.

    Defensively, you have to like what you've seen thus far. He's averaging 1.3 steals per game, and he knows how to use his frame to disrupt less-imposing players on the perimeter.

    Waiters has the talent on both ends of the floor to complement Irving nicely. He just has to stay disciplined, which should come with more time alongside his healthy point guard.

6. Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors

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    By The Numbers: No. 7 pick, 8.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 10.78 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    B/R's Josh Martin had the small forward pegged as a scorer. His skill set called for him to score from all over, but he would have to learn how to create his own shot in isolation situations.

    His best asset was his mid-range jumper, but he also projected to be an extremely valuable defensive presence. 

    Updated Scouting Report

    Defensively, Barnes has been just as good as Mark Jackson and the Warriors hoped he'd be. He's putting his physical skill set to use. He's proving to be a solid perimeter defender early in his career, something most rookies simply can't say.

    On offense, Barnes hasn't shown he can yet be a go-to scorer. Part of this, of course, is because of the offensive prowess of several of his teammates. While his numbers are decent, they don't scream "Rookie of the Year" by any means.

    We knew that Barnes would have to work on creative approaches to scoring, and while that's still the case, you'd also like to see him find more ways to get his teammates involved. He's been plagued by inconsistency early, but his willingness to play off the ball—on both sides of the floor—is encouraging for a player with so much potential.

5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Charlotte Bobcats

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    By The Numbers: No. 2 pick, 10.9 PPG, 1.8 APG, 6.3 RPG, 17.19 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    B/R's Josh Martin wrote that Kidd-Gilchrist's defensive tenacity was one of his best qualities, and his never-ending energy was what teams coveted.

    Offensively, his talents were raw. Not only was his jump shot inefficient, but his form was flawed. He was good in transition, but if he had to take on too many dribbling responsibilities, his effectiveness was reduced.

    Updated Scouting Report

    Kidd-Gilchrist's jumper still needs work, as it didn't miraculously get better in two short months. However, he's shown to be as smart as we all thought he would be, which is why he's shooting better than 50 percent from the field and attempting just 0.2 three-pointers per game.

    Coming into the league, we all knew that his post-up game was better than his perimeter jumper, and we haven't seen any surprises there. Where he still needs to get better is making the decision to take it down the middle opposed to down the baseline.

    While his dribbling techniques still need improvement, he's the kind of player you can trust with the ball in his hands. We've seen a handful of times this season when he starts and finishes a fast break, which is something not all players his size can do.

4. Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons

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    By The Numbers: No. 9 pick, 7.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 21.79 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    B/R's Josh Martin wrote that the big man was set to come into the league without a go-to move, that boxing out wasn't much of a priority and that he fell in love with the jump shot far too often.

    That being said, the potential for greatness was always there, as his athleticism was unmatched and he had the ability to become a force as a shot-blocker down low.

    Updated Scouting Report

    Drummond hasn't proven to anybody that he's the next Dwight Howard, but it looks like he's also not the next Kwame Brown.

    The big man doesn't have the weight of the world on him as a No. 1 pick in the draft, and that combined with coming off the bench has helped him ease into his role as a defender. He is a beast on the boards, a great shot-blocker and his numbers are beyond solid for someone playing just 19.5 minutes per game.

    His offensive game is still raw, as expected, but his willingness to stay around the basket has been a load off the minds of fans who feared he'd fall in love with the perimeter. He's showing that he has the basketball IQ to handle what's being thrown his way. As a result, he's become an efficient scorer when given the opportunity.

3. Alexey Shved, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    By The Numbers: Undrafted, 10.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.6 APG, 13.42 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    According to DraftExpress, Alexey Shved was good in the pick-and-roll, had the ability to find his own shot and could use his change of speed to beat defenders off the dribble.

    His overall lanky frame made it difficult for him to finish in transition. As a result, he relied heavily on his off-the-dribble jumper, which was supposed to be an effective weapon that would translate to the NBA game.

    Updated Scouting Report

    We've seen a lot of good things out of Shved through two months. His composure is solid for a first-year player, his court vision is good and he has the ability to find his teammates when he attacks the painted area.

    Shved is the kind of player who uses his skill set to find creative ways of scoring. But it hasn't translated as smoothly as some might have hoped. He's shown he can put the ball in the basket, but his willingness to shoot off-balance shots—often times near the three-point line—takes away from easier opportunities.

    Although the point guard's frame could use more girth, he actually began the season more effective at the rim. Finding a happy medium from mid-range may be the best solution moving forward. Continuing to distribute to the true scorers will only help him adjust to the NBA game.

2. Anthony Davis, PF-C, New Orleans Hornets

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    By The Numbers: No. 1 pick, 14.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 20.14 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    B/R's Josh Martin touted the power forward/center from Kentucky as the ultimate big-man prospect.

    Davis entered the league as the most dominant defensive presence in the NCAA. He had the skills necessary to remain competent on the perimeter, but where he would make his living was defending the paint with his size, speed and incredible length.

    Updated Scouting Report

    Despite missing time to injuries, Davis has looked fantastic while on the floor. His shot-blocking presence is just what we expected, and while it's true that the big man needs to bulk up, he's proving that he can get it done with his long, lanky frame.

    If you've watched him play, you've noticed that his jumper isn't as clean as it was early in the season. He's shooting less than 50 percent from the floor, but he's taking smart shots, ones we know he can hit if he works on his technique.

    But let's be honest here, jump-shot technique is nitpicking when it comes to the big man's play. Davis has been a very good shot-blocker, as expected, and if he can truly master the mid-range jumper—similarly to how Kevin Garnett made it his go-to move—we'll have one of the more dangerous two-way players in the game.

    If you're the New Orleans Hornets, you like what you've seen thus far. You just hope that these pesky injuries don't become routine.

1. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

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    By The Numbers: No. 6 pick, 18.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 17.01 PER

    Original Scouting Report

    B/R's Josh Martin wrote that Lillard was supposed to look to score rather than be a pass-first floor general. 

    Chauncey Billups was said to be the player he most resembled. He was an efficient shooter and could run the pick-and-roll, but his defensive effort was said to lack energy and intensity.

    Updated Scouting Report

    Through two months of NBA basketball, Lillard is who we thought he was—and so much more.

    The Billups comparison looks to be accurate, as he is a scoring guard who is deadly both at the rim and behind the three-point line. He may not be “Big-Shot Billups” just yet, but fourth quarters in Rip City have already become known as “Lillard Time.”

    What we didn’t expect was how well he’d handle the pressure of NBA defenses. As defender, he still needs to improve, but he’s a top-15 scorer in the league, which makes up for his defensive deficiencies.

    As a point guard, he runs the pick-and-roll extremely well. While he needs to keep his turnovers under control, he plays at a pace that helps dictate the offense even as double-teams start to come his way.

    Like most rookies, his shot has been a bit inconsistent. But he's been one of the most reliable players on a young Portland team, and his leadership abilities are already apparent early in his NBA career.

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