NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Pinning Rookie of Year Favorite Entering All-Star Break

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterFebruary 10, 2013

NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Pinning Rookie of Year Favorite Entering All-Star Break

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    The race for Rookie of the Year honors has essentially been a three-way sprint. An injury might have narrowed the field to two.

    Andre Drummond fractured his vertebra, something that doesn't sound too pleasant. It won't stop us from remembering what he's done so far as a rookie.

    Meanwhile, Damian Lillard looks awfully healthy.

    The rest of the rookie class has been somewhat underwhelming. Injuries have started to play a major factor. Rookies ranked sixth through ninth just haven't been performing.

    But not No. 10 on the list. This week's NBA Rookie Stock Watch has a new face at the back end of the board after an impressive scoring week.

10. Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: Unranked

    Andrew Nicholson will replace Andre Drummond in the rookie-sophomore game (via SLAM Magazine), which is a deserving honor.

    Nicholson has found the groove as of late, dropping 21 on the Cleveland Cavaliers and 14 on the Portland Trail Blazers.

    He has a refined post game and really knows how to get himself open looks in the half court. Nicholson was one of the most complete post scorers in the country in college, and we're seeing it translate nicely to the pros. He might not overwhelm with athleticism, but Nicholson's skill level is awfully high.

    Nicholson was a great draft selection by Orlando.

9. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 9

    Though Jared Sullinger is out for the year, there won't be 10 rookies who've had better seasons when it's all said and done.

    In terms of value, Sullinger has provided it. The Boston Celtics took him No. 21 overall, and he was contributing regular rotational minutes.

    Let's just hope that the back woes don't plague his career.

8. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 7

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returned from a concussion—sort of.

    He finished with two points against the Sixers and four points against the Lakers, although he did pull in 10 boards.

    It's going to take a while before Kidd-Gilchrist starts generating half-court offense. He's just not creative enough off the dribble or sharp enough on the perimeter to consistently score points.

    He's still an impact player because of his motor and ability to rebound and defend.

7. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 8

    Harrison Barnes has been up and down, but the ups project favorably in the big picture.

    He scored 19 points earlier this week against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a few days after dropping 21 on the Suns.

    For every strong game that he has, Barnes tends to follow with a dud, as he sprinkled in a few over the past few days.

    Unless Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shoot the ball less (31 attempts per game), Barnes will continue to have a limited role.

    Barnes' consistency should improve with every year that he's in the league.

6. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 6

    Bradley Beal has been out with a wrist injury that's been bothering him for more than a week now.

    He returned to score three points against the Brooklyn Nets. However, something tells me that jump shooters require healthy wrists to be effective.

    Beal was heating up just before going down, so consider the injury a rhythm-stopper.

5. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 5

    With Dion Waiters comes inconsistency. That's just what you get from low-percentage perimeter scorers.

    He shot 4-of-13 from the floor against the Oklahoma City Thunder, then made 15 of 24 shots combined against the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats before finishing 1-of-6 for two points against the Denver Nuggets.

    Sometimes, he makes you fall in love, and other times—well, not so much. 

    Like I've been saying all year, he's got a sixth man kind of game.

4. Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 4

    Alexey Shved nearly had a double-double with nine assists against the Memphis Grizzlies, but he had been quiet prior to that.

    He's still been a top-five rookie when you look at the overall body of his work, although he doesn't do any one thing in volume.

    Shved is a tough cover at 6'6'' with the ability to break down the defense and create half-court scoring opportunities. The Timberwolves have put Luke Ridnour on the block so that they can ramp up Shved's workload.

    You have to love teams that find hidden talent. It looks like Minnesota turned over the right stone.

3. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 3

    A fractured vertebra isn't going to slow Andre Drummond down, at least not in the rankings.

    He's been too good for a four-to-six week injury to knock him down the board.

    Drummond's impact this season has generated positive attention, with fans tuning into Detroit Piston games to check out the league's new stud.

    Hopefully, the injury is just a bump in the road in what looks to be an exciting NBA career.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 2

    Anthony Davis may not win Rookie of the Year honors, but that shouldn't be a blemish on the resume. While we thought it was his defense that would propel him to stardom, it's been his offense that's been most impressive.

    However, he wasn't at his best this week. He finished 1-of-6 for two points against the Toronto Raptors and 4-of-11 for eight points at Atlanta.

    It happens.

    The Hornets should feature him in more possessions. He's one of the team's most versatile scorers and at times goes too long without getting a touch.

    With Andre Drummond's injury, Davis should maintain his No. 2 ranking for the foreseeable future.

1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 1

    Damian Lillard has found the zone in February, scoring at least 18 points in each of his last five games.

    This dude is just too tough with the ball in his hands. He can dribble over the screen and launch an effortless 26-footer or hit the gap and take it strong to the hole. 

    His consistency for a rookie has been remarkable. Lillard just doesn't give off that vibe that says it's his first year in the league.

    With Andre Drummond going down with an injury, Anthony Davis is likely to be the only one left in Lillard's rear-view mirror. But the Rookie of the Year award is Lillard's to lose, and he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.