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NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Are We Writing Off Anthony Davis Too Soon?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 20, 2013

NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Are We Writing Off Anthony Davis Too Soon?

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    Anthony Davis appears to be making his move, but is it too little, too late?

    He had one of his best games of the season this week, but that Damian Lillard guy just won't go away.

    Regardless of who wins the honors for top rookie in the class, both have proven to be long-term building blocks with NBA All-Star potential.

    While Jared Sullinger, Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters all seem to have found their rhythm, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes are trying to plow through rookie walls.

     

    Stats updated January 19, 2013.

10. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 9

    Harrison Barnes is having a week to forget after finishing with just one made field goal in each of his last two games.

    He's experiencing the same difficulties that he struggled with at North Carolina. Barnes is have trouble creating easy shots for himself in the half court, and it's limiting him offensively.

    Barnes is being used as a stretch wing, getting most of his opportunities in spot-up situations. Part of his development moving forward should focus on using the dribble to separate or draw contact, instead of being forced to settle on the perimeter as a low-percentage jump shooter.

9. Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Weeks Rank: 10

    Tyler Zeller went for 13 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks at Utah on Saturday, looking confident and comfortable operating in the post.

    Zeller showed off that soft touch on his jump hook that helped him earn so many points at North Carolina. He's proving to be a legitimate option in the post, giving Cleveland a needed dimension of offense when you consider its top two scorers are perimeter-oriented.

8. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 7

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is stuck in the mud. The wheels are spinning, but he's not going anywhere.

    He finished with eight combined points and six total rebounds against Orlando and Sacramento on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and he hasn't made more than two field goals in three straight games.

    Creating his own offense was never his forte, so stretches like these shouldn't be unexpected. Turning defense into points and slashing off the ball are his two most valued attributes, but it's tough to be consistent without the ability to create shots in the half court.

7. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 8

    Though Jared Sullinger only scored seven points, he played an integral role for Boston in its dogfight against the Bulls on Friday.

    Doc Rivers left Sullinger out there for 38 minutes to body up with Chicago's ferocious front line. Against Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, Sullinger managed to pull in 15 rebounds before fouling out.

    He's still searching for new ways to score, but at least he's being productive in the process. Sullinger should study how other under-the-rim forwards, like Boozer and Glen Davis, manage to overcome their limitations and put points on the board.

6. Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 5

    Alexey Shved missed Saturday's game against the Rockets with an ankle injury, but that doesn't offset the fact that he's only made three of his last 21 shots from the floor.

    While Shved is slumping, others are surging. Both Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters are playing their best ball of the year and have timed their hot play with Shved's rookie-wall collision.

    Shved had been playing heavy minutes prior to the injury, so maybe some time off will help clear his head.

5. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 6

    Bradley Beal racked up another 20-plus-point game against the Nuggets on Friday and finished with 13 against the Clippers on Saturday, but the real story has been his shooting stroke.

    Here's a total mind-blow: In the month of January, Beal has made 29 of 48 three-point attempts, good for a whopping 60 percent over a 10-game stretch.

    He was drafted with the idea that he'd turn into an elite NBA shooter despite shooting just 34 percent from three at Florida. Whoever decided to ignore his college statistics deserves a raise in the Wizards organization.

    With the athleticism to finish on the move and an accurate shot from deep, Beal is starting to produce third-overall value.

4. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 4

    Dion Waiters had another big game off the bench against the Jazz on Saturday, finishing with 23 points in 28 minutes. But the key for Waiters was getting to the line 12 times.

    Waiters is dynamic off the dribble with the shiftiness to weave between the defense and the strength to absorb contact at the rim. While he's capable of heating up like a microwave and scoring points in bunches from the perimeter, he's most effective in attack mode when penetrating north and south instead of dancing east and west.

3. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 3

    It's time for Lawrence Frank to cut the rookie leash. Andre Drummond double-doubled in 23 minutes against the Knicks on Thursday, going for 11 points, 10 boards and two blocks.

    All he does is produce when given the opportunity. Because of his size and athleticism, it's just inevitable.

    Drummond is doing an excellent job of finding ways to contribute despite not having the polished skill set of a go-to scoring big man.

    Without a realistic shot at the playoffs, Detroit should be giving Drummond regular minutes with no restrictions. The more reps he gets, the quicker he'll develop offensively.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 2

    Anthony Davis had his biggest game of the month Saturday against the Warriors. He recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 boards and also posted four blocks and four dimes.

    This game was a good reminder of why Davis was the most coveted prospect in 2012 and the only realistic option with the No. 1 overall pick.

    If you've ever questioned the significance of length, then park yourself in front of some Davis highlights. As a pick-and-roll target with a 7'5" wingspan, Davis can catch passes at the foul line and extend to the rim for a layup in one motion without using a dribble. Combine his long arms with the springs of someone who typically plays on the perimeter, and Davis can reach heights above the rim that are out of the reach of interior defenders.

    Though Rookie of the Year honors look like Damian Lillard's to lose, it's important to remember that Davis is three years younger. At 19 years old, he's having an extremely successful first season.

1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 1

    It wasn't his most spotless performance of the year, but Damian Lillard showed he's capable of putting up 26 points and 10 assists without shooting the ball well.

    Lillard helped bring the Blazers back after trailing by double digits to Milwaukee on Saturday, but he missed a few shots down the stretch that could have changed the outcome of the game.

    No worries. Lillard is handling the responsibilities of someone who's played in the league for years despite gaining most of his job experience suiting up in the inferior Big Sky Conference.

    Barring a collapse, Lillard is still in the driver's seat to win Rookie of the Year.

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