Breaking Down the Contenders for NBA Rookie of the Year

Varun RavishankerContributor IIIFebruary 6, 2013

Breaking Down the Contenders for NBA Rookie of the Year

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    The season is well underway and at the halfway point several rookies taken at the top of the draft have proven to be worthy of lottery status and have made their cases for Rookie of the Year.

    Some have had the opportunity to lead their teams from the start while others have yet to be unleashed with teams that can afford to let them ease into the NBA game.

    The coming weeks will be vital for any first-year players looking to make a push as the best rookie in the league. And as the youngsters become more comfortable with the rigors of NBA play, any one of them could come out of the woodwork to rise to the top spot. 

    Here's a look at this year's contenders for the best rookie in the league at the halfway mark. 

Kyle Singler

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    Singler has had the rookie spotlight taken out from under him thanks to the brilliant play this season from teammate Andre Drummond. But Singler has had a solid rookie campaign in his own right.

    He earned the starting job after Detroit's 0-8 start and the Pistons have played better since. Singler's ability to run with the offense while playing off the ball has been a major help toe a Pistons team that struggles to score. 

    His numbers are primed to rise even higher with the recent trade of Tayshaun Prince. In the second game of the post-Prince era, Singler posted 20 points and eight boards along with three blocks against the Cavaliers. 

    With his newly increased responsibility, Singler will have the opportunity to make more of a splash in the league, and if he continues to put up these kind of numbers he could sneak his way into the Rookie of the Year discussion. 

Bradley Beal

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    The No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft out of Florida has had a strong start to his rookie campaign in Washington.

    Beal just recently took home his second consecutive NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honor behind his excellent .508 clip from behind the arc in January.

    With their record, the Wizards are not in playoff contention this season, and will likely play their young guys like Beal more as the season progresses to get them NBA experience. 

    His stock takes a slight hit from his recent injury problems, but it looks as if he's primed to return sooner rather than later. If his wrist heals without any lasting problems he'll have a good shot to make an enough of an impact on an average Wizards team to turn some heads.

Anthony Davis

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    Anthony Davis came in as the odds-on favorite to be the best player in the 2012 class, due largely to his key contributions in leading the Kentucky Wildcats to a National Championship last season.

    He has played well this season, but perhaps not up to expectations as some feel that the odds-on top rookie at the start of the year is playing at a disappointing pace this season.

    Davis may not be playing as strongly as many expected this season, but his play is still good enough to have him as one of the favorites in the Rookie of the Year contention. 

    He has the second highest PER among rookies, and has played at times this season like he will blow up at any time. He certainly is in the thick of the hunt for Rookie of the Year honors. 

Andre Drummond

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    Andre Drummond might be the rookie in this year's class with the most to gain from the rest of the season.

    Drummond plays by far the fewest minutes of any of the major Rookie of the Year candidates because Greg Monroe already plays his position in Detroit.

    Drummond, however, played outstandingly in his limited time in action for the Pistons. He has the highest PER among rookies and has been huge for the Pistons late in games. 

    With the Pistons trading away Prince, they will look to their young core to lead them in a late-season playoff run. As a result Drummond's minutes will likely go up as the season progresses.

    If he can capitalize on his increased court time, he will vault to the top of the rookie standings. 

Damian Lillard

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    The No. 6 pick in the 2012 draft has played above and beyond expectations this season with the Portland Trailblazers.

    Lillard leads NBA rookies in points and assists per game, and more than any other rookie is an integral part of his team's offense.

    Lillard plays seven more minutes than the next closest rookie each game, and his third consecutive NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month demonstrates just how good he's been. 

    This title is Lillard's to lose, and with the way he has consistently been playing for a Blazers team that is fighting for the eighth seed, it's hard to see him losing out on Rookie of the Year if he continues to play at this pace.