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NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Who Is ROY Favorite at NBA's Midseason Point?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2013

NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Who Is ROY Favorite at NBA's Midseason Point?

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    With a month to go before the All-Star break, you can already start penciling in your NBA Rookie of the Year.

    The Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard looks like a seasoned veteran compared to most of the rookies he's competing against. Posing as a floor general for a team that already has established talent, he's quickly earned the trust and confidence of his teammates and coaching staff.

    Lillard's 37 points against Golden State was just an exclamation point on what's already been a successful rookie campaign.

    Dion Waiters is creeping up the rankings with a few recent scoring outbursts, while Alexey Shved is struggling to maintain his surprising production earlier in the season. 

     

    Stats updated as of January 16, 2013

10. Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: Unranked

    Tyler Zeller played a good week of basketball and should continue to get opportunities with Anderson Varejao on the shelf.

    He played 40 minutes in Portland, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds. His previous game he scored 13 points and blocked four shots in Sacramento.

    Zeller isn't scoring as many easy points as he was in college, but his touch and instincts in the post have contributed to his success. He's a legitimate option posting up with an advanced back-to-the-basket game. He's also proven capable of stepping out, facing the rim and knocking down elbow jumpers.

    Strength is definitely an issue, but not talent. Once the two meet, Zeller should be a player down the road.

9. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 9

    Before a 3-of-12 outing against the Heat, Harrison Barnes was 16 of his last 25 from the floor over a three-game span.

    He scored 21 against Denver, nailing five three-pointers as a stretch small forward on the wing.

    Barnes' in-between game is what needs work, but he's proven capable as a shot-maker who can also finish above the rim.

    With defensive tools and a versatile offensive skill set, Barnes is a bright prospect with two-way potential. Consider me a fan of the Luol Deng comparison.

8. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 8

    Jared Sullinger had an up-and-down week, starting with monster double-doubles of 12 points and 16 boards against the Suns and 14 points and 11 boards against the Rockets.

    He wasn't much of a factor over the next two games, combining for 12 points and seven boards in 43 total minutes of action.

    But the inconsistency should be expected with multiple scoring options ahead of him in the pecking order.

    To his credit, he's scoring with efficiency—he's made 19 of his last 27 field-goal attempts. Sullinger looks right at home operating at the high post or the low block, which is rare for a rookie in the NBA.

    Sullinger was clearly a steal at No. 21 overall, and should be in Boston's long-term plans, as they're without many young pieces with which to build.

7. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 6

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's offense has sputtered throughout the year, which can be linked to his inability to create half-court offense.

    He played Indiana's suffocating defense twice this week, combining to shoot 3-of-12 for eight total points.

    Kidd-Gilchrist did look good against Boston, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds, letting his energy and motor do all the work at the rim.

    As a 3, Kidd-Gilchrist would really benefit from developing a jumper to help open up his game off the dribble. 

    His athleticism, coordination and speed are all at the highest level, but without the ability to separate and convert on the perimeter, he'll be limited to just defending, finishing and transition opportunities.

6. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 7

    Bradley Beal has turned the corner in his rookie year, averaging 20.2 points over his last four games.

    He went for 26 points and six assists against Sacramento, nailing six-of-seven from downtown and 9-of-14 overall.

    One of Beal's perceived strengths coming out of college was his shooting stroke and NBA range. Beal is currently in a zone that allows him to see a hula hoop instead a basket. He's made 13 of his last 18 three-point attempts and is fulfilling his role as scoring guard who can play on and off the ball.

    John Wall's return to the lineup and Beal's inflated production can be directly related. Expect Beal to see better looks at the rim on a more consistent basis.

5. Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 3

    Alexey Shved has run head-first into a rookie wall. He went 1-of-7 at Dallas and 0-of-7 at San Antonio, and is now five for his last 26 shots from the floor.

    Shved is more of a playmaker than he is a scorer, but with Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea, Minnesota is really looking for offense at the off-guard slot.

    He's been a pleasant surprise so far, considering the Wolves signed him as an undrafted free agent, but he's starting to lose ground to some of the more highly coveted prospects from the 2012 NBA draft.

4. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 5

    Dion Waiters had a rough go of it in Portland, but finished with a career-high 33 points off the bench in the role that's built for his game.

    He's easily the most dynamic scorer in the draft class, with the ability to create offense with the dribble or play off the ball as a spot-up threat.

    Prior to his 33-point outburst, he scored 15 in Los Angeles and 18 in Denver.

    Waiters is a low-percentage perimeter scorer, and that's unlikely to change based on his strengths as a combo-guard. With the ability to put points on the board in bunches, a sixth-man role is perfectly suited for his services.

3. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 5

    Andre Drummond needs props for his consistency, which has rarely wavered.

    He continues to contribute in limited minutes, despite having to earn his production with hustle and effort.

    Drummond grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots in only 17 minutes against the Bucks. His presence on the interior is felt every second he's in there and it's making a difference on both sides of the ball.

    Detroit is playing some inspiring basketball, and Drummond has been a factor. With unmatchable size and athleticism, Drummond hasn't even touched the surface of his potential.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 2

    Anthony Davis' scoring opportunities have taken a hit since Eric Gordon's return to the lineup, but he's still making his signature plays off the ball.

    He double-doubled in a win at Boston, and went for 10 points, seven boards, two blocks and two steals in a win at Philadelphia.

    At full strength, this Hornets team has weapons, and Anthony Davis is a dangerous one.

    It turns out that because of his ability to play face-up basketball from the perimeter, Davis' offense has translated smoother than anticipated.

    The more reps he gets, the more scoring opportunities he'll recognize. He's going to get better and better as his body fills out and his offense develops.

1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 1

    Overall it was a weird but memorable week for Damian Lillard. He went absolutely nuts in a loss to Golden State, racking up a career-high 37 points on 15 made field goals.

    At one point, Lillard made 10 straight shots, single-handedly keeping his team alive like a veteran star in his prime.

    Unfortunately, Lillard cooled off the rest of the week, only shooting 12-of-38 from the floor over his next three games.

    As Lillard struggles, so does Portland, who are now losers of four straight. Within half a year, Lillard has already established himself as the engine that runs the Blazers and the driving force behind the offense.

    Anthony Davis is going to have to have one heck of a few months if he wants a chance at competing with Lillard for Rookie of the Year. This one will be Lillard's to lose.

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