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Updated Impact Meter for All NBA Rookies

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

Updated Impact Meter for All NBA Rookies

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    By now, fans are familiar with players like Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis, but there are several other rookies who are only beginning to establish names for themselves in the NBA.

    Nearly halfway through the season, it's time to evaluate how the members of the 2012 draft class are faring in their first season.

    As stars are born and busts begin to reveal themselves, we'll be hitting each rookie with a rating on the impact meter.

    Note: All stats accurate as of Sunday, January 6. Slideshow reflects the order of 2012 NBA draft.

Anthony Davis

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    Impact: High

    Anthony Davis has already missed 13 of the New Orleans Hornets' 33 games due to various injuries, but he's had a profound impact on his new team when he's been active.

    Despite playing for the team that has the Western Conference's worst record (8-25), Davis has shined in 30.9 minutes per night, posting a line of 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

    Davis isn't taking a significant portion of the team's shots, as he ranks fourth behind Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez in field-goal attempts (11 per game), but he's shooting a steady 48.2 percent from the field on a combination of low-post and mid-range looks.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

3 of 32

    Impact: High

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was considered the best wing defender in the 2012 draft class, and he's lived up that billing, playing a ferocious style of defense for a slowly improving Charlotte Bobcats team.

    However, Kidd-Gilchrist's billing as a raw offensive prospect with a shaky jump shot has also been accurate.

    According to NBA.com, Kidd-Gilchrist is taking the majority of his shots (165) from the restricted area, where he's converting on 64 percent of his attempts.

    In contrast, MKG is hitting on just 24 percent of his mid-range looks en route to an average of 10.8 points per game.

    A positive for the rookie out of Kentucky is that he accounts for 32 percent of the Bobcats' blocks and 26 percent of their rebounds.

Bradley Beal

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    Impact: Medium

    In the early going, Bradley Beal looked like a prospect with little understanding of how his skills were supposed to fit into an NBA offense.

    Granted, that offense was the Washington Wizards', but nonetheless, the rookie out of Florida did not look particularly sharp during his first month in the NBA.

    Beal has improved marginally since then, although his numbers are still putrid. Other than the restricted area, the only spot on the floor from which Beal is shooting higher than 40 percent is the corner three, but those shots only account for 12.5 percent of his total output, per NBA.com.

    Beal is shooting a dreadful 30.1 percent from beyond the arc to go with a mark of 37 percent from mid-range, where nearly 40 percent of his total shots are coming from.

    With only his shooting to offer, Beal is going to need to get rid of his first-year jitters to produce at the level many believed he would.

    Perhaps the return of John Wall to the Wizards lineup will help alleviate some of the pressure Beal is feeling in his rookie season.

Dion Waiters

5 of 32

    Impact: Medium

    Dion Waiters got off to a scorching start with the Cleveland Cavaliers, using his fearless offensive approach to knock down jumpers and get to the basket with relative ease.

    However, Waiters has fallen back to earth in recent weeks, and his numbers are reflective of a rookie who has plenty of work to do before he can be considered a true offensive threat.

    Waiters is averaging 14.1 points per game, good for second among all rookies, although his efficiency needs to be called into question.

    Shooting 36.6 percent from the field (and a worse 31.7 percent from three), Waiters has failed to maximize his 31 minutes per night, and Byron Scott has taken notice, inserting C.J. Miles into the starting lineup to replace Waiters at shooting guard.

Thomas Robinson

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    Impact: Low

    Thomas Robinson has had a rough go of it over the past few months, as the Sacramento Kings' depth in the frontcourt has stunted his development for the time being.

    With the bulk of the frontcourt minutes reserved for Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins and Chuck Hayes, Robinson has been the odd man out, managing only rotational minutes, averaging 15.4 minutes per night.

    A line of 4.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game is reflective of Robinson's inability to capture a prominent role in Keith Smart's rotation. But rest assured, there will be brighter days ahead for the former Kansas standout.

Damian Lillard

7 of 32

    Impact: High

    We're just more than two months into the season, but Damian Lillard is running away with the league's Rookie of the Year honors.

    Lillard leads all rookies in minutes (37.9) and points (18.2) per game, as he's assumed a starring role on a Portland Trail Blazers team that was in desperate need of a game-changing point guard.

    Lillard's play has exceeded expectations. He's showing no hesitation in the clutch, while attacking the rim with his elite speed and change of pace.

    The Weber State product has also dished out 6.4 assists a night, a solid number for a scorer of his caliber.

Harrison Barnes

8 of 32

    Impact: Medium

    Harrison Barnes has yet to have a profound impact on the Golden State Warriors, but his play has been encouraging.

    As the Warriors' starting small forward, Barnes has averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 25.3 minutes per night.

    Barnes' shooting from the field could be better (42.3 percent), but his three-point stroke has looked decent, as the North Carolina product is converting on 33.8 percent of his looks from deep, including 43 percent from the corner, per NBA.com.

    As Golden State emerges as a Western Conference power, expect Barnes' exposure, and his role, to grow in 2013.

Terrence Ross

9 of 32

    Impact: Medium

    After Bradley Beal, Terrence Ross was considered the 2012 draft's purest shooter. Ross hasn't quite lived up that billing, as he's knocking down 33.7 percent of his three-point attempts and only 28 percent from the corner, per NBA.com.

    Although Ross' sweet stroke hasn't been as good as advertised, his raw athleticism has been breathtaking.

    Ross is looking like a shoo-in for the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest, an event that is on life support.

    Like Vince Carter and DeMar DeRozan before him, perhaps Ross will be the next Toronto Raptor to steal the show at All-Star Weekend.

Andre Drummond

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    Impact: High

    Lawrence Frank would be wise to open his eyes and give Andre Drummond a larger role on a struggling Detroit Piston team. 

    Despite playing just 19.5 minutes per game, Drummond leads the Pistons in PER (21.7) and blocks (1.5 per game) and is averaging seven points and 7.3 rebounds in those few minutes.

    Starter's minutes for Drummond would result in double-double averages for the big man out of UConn, and you have to believe his promotion will come sooner rather than later.

    With a combination of Greg Monroe and Drummond along the front line, the Pistons could have something to build a future roster around, as the two are emerging as one of the league's most talented frontcourt tandems.

Austin Rivers

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    Impact: Low

    It's been quite an adventure for Austin Rivers throughout his first few months in the Big Easy.

    With Eric Gordon only recently returning from a knee injury, Rivers was tasked with taking on a starting role, and he didn't exactly fare well given the increased responsibilities.

    Rivers is actually shooting better from three (35 percent) than he is from the field (34 percent), numbers that are indicative of his inability to convert in the paint and from mid-range.

    Although he's getting to the basket with ease, Rivers is shooting a dreadful 38 percent in the restricted area, where 36 percent of his shots (the most of any basic area) are coming from, per NBA.com.

    At this point it seems as if Rivers needs a confidence boost more than anything, and only time will tell if the Hornets made the right call in drafting the former Duke standout.

Meyers Leonard

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    Impact: Low

    Once the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Damian Lillard, it was time to address the frontcourt.

    They did so by taking Meyers Leonard, a raw yet athletically gifted prospect out of Illinois.

    Leonard was intriguing coming out of Champaign, given his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and his quick feet around the basket, but head coach Terry Stotts hasn't seen enough from the seven-footer to give him a significant workload.

    Leonard has been active in his 16.5 minutes per game, averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds a night, but there simply hasn't been a large enough sample size to make any conclusions regarding the big man's future.

Jeremy Lamb

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    Impact: Low

    Jeremy Lamb was drafted by the Houston Rockets, but his stint in H-Town didn't last long, as he was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the package that netted the Rockets James Harden.

    Since arriving in OKC, Lamb has spent the majority of his time down in the D-League, where he's demonstrated how deadly a scorer he can be when given the opportunity.

    Lamb is averaging 20.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per night for the Tulsa 66ers, although he's not doing so efficiently, as the former UConn guard is shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Kendall Marshall

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    Impact: Low

    Between a stint in the D-League and hardly any playing time with the Suns, it's been a rough few months in Phoenix for point guard Kendall Marshall.

    Considered a gifted passer coming out of North Carolina, Marshall has sputtered at the professional level.

    Things hit rock bottom for Marshall when he was sent to the Developmental League for an assignment with the Bakersfield Jam, where things didn't improve all that much.

    In fact, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports notes that Marshall had a tough time getting his legs under him in the D-League:

    Marshall has struggled with his shooting: 32.9 percent from the field (26-of-79), including 16.7 percent (3-of-18) from three-point range. He has yet to have a game where he hits 40 percent of his shots.

John Henson

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    Impact: Medium

    If you like wingspan, then I suggest you start watching the Milwaukee Bucks on a regular basis.

    With John Henson, Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh, the Bucks have some impressive length that they've used to their advantage.

    Henson is just one piece of the puzzle, and although he's seeing a shade under 12 minutes per game, he's made the most of his opportunities.

    A PER of 17.82 is reflective of Henson's activity level, as he's averaging five points, four rebounds and 0.6 blocks in limited playing time.

    Henson isn't receiving much press, but he's a rookie quietly on the rise.

Maurice Harkless

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    Impact: Low

    Originally drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, Moe Harkless was traded to the Orlando Magic in the blockbuster deal that netted the Sixers center Andrew Bynum.

    Ironically, Harkless has had a more profound impact on his new team than Bynum has on his. Granted, Bynum has yet to step on the floor, but at least the Magic are getting a chance to evaluate the prospect that they acquired.

    The book on Harkless coming into the pros was that he was a strong defender, freak athlete and poor jump shooter. Basically, he was a younger, lankier version of Andre Iguodala.

    So far, Harkless has shown that his offensive game needs plenty of polishing, as he's stayed away from shots anywhere outside of the restricted area.

    According to NBA.com, 72.3 percent of Harkless' shots have come within the restricted area, as he's limited himself to 23 combined attempts from the paint, mid-range and beyond the arc.

Royce White

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    Impact: To be determined

    Right now, Royce White's future in the NBA is in limbo.

    According to ESPN, White has been suspended by the Rockets for failure to report to the D-League:

    White refused his assignment to Houston's D-League affiliate a week ago. The 16th overall pick in the June draft has spent most of the season on Houston's inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder and overall mental health.

    White has been fighting a very public anxiety disorder, one that did not stop the Houston Rockets from taking a chance on the ultra-talented forward at No. 16 overall in the 2012 NBA draft.

    It would be a shame to see White's once-promising career go to waste, but he has made it clear that his first priority is to establish the NBA as a place where those with mental health issues can feel comfortable.

Tyler Zeller

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    Impact: Medium

    Tyler Zeller has quietly been producing solid numbers for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he recently took on a larger role with starting center Anderson Varejao sidelined.

    Over his last five games, Zeller is averaging 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, boosting his line on the season to 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds a night.

    Zeller accounts for 39 percent of the Cavaliers' blocks, per NBA.com, and is finding his way into the rotation with stout defensive play and decent offensive production.

    Zeller needs to work on refining his mid-range jumper (hitting on 34 percent). If he does, the Cavs will be more than pleased with his first-year development.

Terrence Jones

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    Impact: Low

    Like several of his peers, Terrence Jones has bounced around between the pros and the D-League during his rookie season.

    The Houston Rockets have made it a point to develop their rookies in the D-League, as their roster is loaded with young assets.

    Jones is one of those key assets, and he's been thriving for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League.

    Averaging 20.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, Jones has looked like the versatile, two-way forward he was at Kentucky and the player he will surely become in the NBA.

Andrew Nicholson

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    Impact: Medium

    Andrew Nicholson is another rookie who has made limited minutes work in his favor.

    Although the St. Bonaventure product is playing just 14.3 minutes per game, he's taking good, smart shots, and the numbers reflect his decision-making.

    Nicholson has a PER of 17.76, and according to NBA.com, he is shooting better than 44 percent from mid-range, the paint (59 percent) and the restricted area (64 percent).

    Jacque Vaughn is still getting Nicholson familiar with his system, but it's clear that the rookie is a fundamental, polished player who will thrive when a larger role is bestowed upon him.

Evan Fournier

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    Impact: Low

    Evan Fournier entered the NBA draft as a relative unknown, and he's maintained that label throughout the early stages of his career with the Denver Nuggets.

    A rookie out of France, Fournier was lauded as a sharpshooter but has not been given many opportunities by George Karl to strut his stuff.

    On a team that's loaded with wings, Fournier has had a hard time cracking the regular rotation, as he's averaging a meager 8.2 minutes per game.

    Fournier will see his fair share of DNP-CDs in the box score as the season progresses, but that's the give-and-take that comes with being a rookie on a talented roster.

Jared Sullinger

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    Impact: Medium

    Jared Sullinger fell quite a ways on draft day due to concerns about his health, but the former Ohio State Buckeye has not let that deter him.

    Now situated with the Boston Celtics, Sullinger is averaging 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, as he's been thrust into a role as the team's backup power forward and center.

    Sullinger has actually outplayed teammate Brandon Bass on several occasions this season and is averaging a superior line of 7.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game over his last five.

    Playing on an undersized Celtics front line, Sullinger will be a key piece to a potential playoff run.

Fab Melo

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    Impact: Low

    The biggest news Fab Melo has made this season? That would be suffering a concussion after banging his head on a door frame.

    Melo hasn't made any noise on the court for the Boston Celtics, as they've leaned heavily on Kevin Garnett, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass for frontcourt production.

    Quite frankly, Melo wouldn't be making much of an impact even if Doc Rivers provided him with regular minutes.

    Melo entered the NBA as a capable and willing defender, but his offensive game needs significant work if he's going to play in the post against the league's best.

    Playing in the D-League for the Maine Red Claws, Melo is averaging 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

John Jenkins

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    Impact: Low

    John Jenkins, formerly of Vanderbilt, entered the NBA draft as a one-dimensional sharpshooter.

    Thus far, Jenkins hasn't had many opportunities to flaunt his lethal three-point stroke, but he's been true on the few looks he's seen.

    Jenkins is shooting 47 percent on threes above the break, per NBA.com, and 43.5 percent on all shots behind the arc.

    Anthony Morrow's hip injury has provided Jenkins with some extended looks, and he's delivered, to the tune of 53.1 percent shooting from the field.

Jared Cunningham

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    Impact: Low

    Are you beginning to sense a trend? Nearly every player drafted in the bottom third of the first round of the 2012 NBA draft is seeing fewer than 10 minutes per game, and that includes Dallas Mavericks guard Jared Cunningham.

    Cunningham is posting a PER of 17.23, but that number is deceiving because the Oregon State product is only playing 3.4 minutes per game.

    The Mavs are dedicating minutes to several young players already, namely Jae Crowder and Rodrigue Beaubois, so there won't be much time for Cunningham to develop in his rookie season.

Tony Wroten Jr.

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    Impact: Low

    The only productivity for Tony Wroten this season has come in a Reno Bighorns uniform, where the former Washington point guard is averaging 13.6 points and 3.8 assists per game.

    Wroten has only seen action in four games for the Memphis Grizzlies, thanks to the solid play of backup point guard Jerryd Bayless.

    Wroten is an intriguing prospect who handles and passes the ball beautifully, but his jump shot has drawn comparisons to that of Rajon Rondo.

    With great size (6'5"), Wroten has a chance to develop into a solid backup point man.

Miles Plumlee

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    Impact: Low

    Miles Plumlee's NBA quest has been riddled by call-ups to the big club in Indiana and assignments to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the Developmental League.

    Plumlee has only seen action in six games this season, as playing time has been hard to come by behind David West and Tyler Hansbrough.

    An old rookie at 24 years old, Plumlee will need to grow up in a hurry if he wants to work his way into a regular role.

Arnett Moultrie

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    Impact: Low

    Arnett Moultrie was acquired in a draft day trade between the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, and despite Andrew Bynum's absence, Moultrie has been unable to get on the floor.

    A big reason has to do with head coach Doug Collins, who's never been one to dish out significant minutes to rookies.

    Quite frankly, it doesn't make much sense. Moultrie is a stout 6'10", 245 pounds, and he's a capable scorer in the post. Without Bynum, the Sixers have had to lean on a platoon consisting of Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown at center.

    With Moultrie receiving no love, Philly decided to send him down to the D-League, where, as Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs reports, he's having some success:

    #Sixers F/C Arnett Moultrie is averaging 9.7 points, 6.1 rebounds & shooting 46.9% in 7 games with Sioux Falls Skyforce of NBA D-League.

    — Tom Moore (@tmoorepburbs) January 6, 2013

Perry Jones III

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    Impact: Low

    Perry Jones III is oozing with potential, and when he was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder it was assumed that he would receive at least semi-regular minutes on the league's best young team.

    However, the Thunder have an established rotation, and Jones' athleticism has been put to work in the D-League, like many of his peers drafted to contenders.

    With the Thunder's roster set for the future, Jones may have to earn his stripes in the D-League before he is called up to make contributions on a consistent basis.

Marquis Teague

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    Impact: Low

    Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has shown some trust in point guard Marquis Teague in his first year out of Kentucky.

    With Derrick Rose sidelined, the onus has been on Kirk Hinrich and Teague to get the job done, and they've done so to a respectable degree.

    Although Teague's numbers aren't flashy (2.6 points and 1.6 assists per game), his contributions in the early going have exceeded the low expectations that were set for him.

Festus Ezeli

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    Impact: Medium

    Festus Ezeli has been the primary beneficiary of Andrew Bogut's ankle injury, as the rookie out of Vanderbilt has been thrust into a role as the team's starting center.

    Ezeli has started 28 games and is averaging 15.7 minutes per game. The big man has made his presence felt primarily on defense, averaging 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 block per night.

    It's comforting for Mark Jackson to have a center who he trusts to play consistent defense, because that's never been Andris Biedrins' calling card.

Other Notable Rookies

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    Alexey Shved

    Impact: High

    Although he's already 24 years old, Alexey Shved is in his first year in the NBA out of Russia.

    Shved is contributing in a way many believed he wouldn't, averaging 10.8 points and 4.6 assists per game.

    Shved's play in place of the injured Ricky Rubio helped stabilize the Minnesota Timberwolves backcourt for November and much of December, and his presence now gives Rick Adelman a talented, unique tandem at point guard.

     

    Jeff Taylor

    Impact: High

    The Charlotte Bobcats did a fine job of adding talented wings in the 2012 draft, selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the first round and Jeff Taylor in the second.

    Taylor has been just as valuable as Kidd-Gilchrist on the defensive end, if not more so, which is really saying something.

    Taylor's size at 6'7", 225 pounds is ideal for guarding stronger, more physical wings, and he's quickly established himself as the team's best perimeter defender.

     

    Jonas Valanciunas

    Impact: Medium

    Selected No. 5 overall in the 2011 NBA draft, Jonas Valanciunas made his debut on this side of the Atlantic in 2012.

    Valanciunas hasn't been flashy in 22.4 minutes per night, but he's been steady, averaging 7.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

    Unfortunately, Valanciunas will be out another three to five weeks after suffering a broken finger before the new year.

     

    Chris Copeland

    Impact: Medium

    New York Knicks combo-forward Chris Copeland has been an active body over the past few weeks, playing some small forward and even power forward off the bench.

    The undrafted free agent is shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from beyond the arc, numbers that have contributed to a bump in playing time.

    Along with a PER of 17.57, Copeland is averaging 6.7 points per game.

     

    Pablo Prigioni

    Impact: Low 

    A 35-year-old rookie out of Argentina, Pablo Prigioni has worked with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd to create a formidable trio of ball-handling guards in the New York Knicks backcourt.  

    Prigioni is not one to score the ball much, and his average of 3.3 points per game is reflective of that passivity on the offensive end. 

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