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NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Can Bradley Beal Steal Damian Lillard's Crown?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterMarch 3, 2013

NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Can Bradley Beal Steal Damian Lillard's Crown?

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    Washington Wizards rookie Bradley Beal is quietly emerging as one of the brighter young studs in the league.

    With less than 20 games to go, is there enough time for Beal to knock Damian Lillard off his throne? We're not ready to give in just yet.

    Other than Beal, Cleveland Cavaliers combo guard Dion Waiters is starting to maximize his scoring prowess while demonstrating takeover abilities with the ball in his hands. Anthony Davis has hit the pine with a bruised shoulder, while Lillard continued splashing the nets as Portland's trustworthy floor general.

10. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: No. 10

    Though out for the year, Jared Sullinger maintains his spot at No. 10 without anyone knocking on the door.

    Sullinger's reliability as a low-post scorer and rebounder go a long way in a class where consistency is hard to come by.

    Hopefully he can control this back injury so it doesn't hamper his career, because Sullinger's future looks bright if he can stay on the floor.

9. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: No. 8

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but without the ability to create in the half court, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to struggle to produce consistent offensive results.

    He got shut out against the Clippers for zero points in 22 minutes and followed with eight points against the Jazz on 4-of-11 shooting.

    Thank goodness for him that he's an excellent defender, because his offensive game isn't worthy of regular NBA minutes just yet.

8. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: No. 9

    The difference between Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the No. 8- and No. 9-ranked rookies is minimal.

    But Barnes has at least shown the ability to make a significant offensive impact when his number is called.

    He scored 16 points against the Celtics before giving an underwhelming performance for five points against Philadelphia.

    It comes down to repetition for Barnes, who has struggled to maintain any consistency all year round. Creating easier scoring opportunities for himself will be the difference.

7. Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: No. 6

    Alexey Shved's minutes have been slashed, and so has his production. He made a combined three field goals in three games this week.

    With overcrowding in the backcourt, which always seems to be the case in Minnesota, rookie turbulence shouldn't be unexpected.

    Shved can obviously be an effective player given his unique skill set as a 6'6'' playmaker, but without a consistent role, you can expect inconsistent results.

6. Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: No. 7

    There's quite a gap between the top five rookies and the next five, with Andrew Nicholson taking over position at the No. 6 spot.

    Nicholson is a really sound offensive player, particularly in the post. He scored 17 points in 17 minutes against Houston and shot 16-of-22 from the field overall in his three games this week.

    Because he's of the under-the-rim variety, Nicholson will never be a force on the glass. But for points in the half court, he's a pretty reliable option considering it's his first year making the jump from St. Bonaventure to the NBA.

5. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: No. 3

    It's almost been five weeks since Andre Drummond went down with a back injury, and despite the four-to-six week timetable, a return to action may not be around the corner.

    With the Pistons going nowhere, there's no reason to rush him.

    I'm no doctor, but a back sounds like a pretty important body part for a professional athlete. His lengthy stay on the sidelines has knocked him down to the No. 5 spot, but not to his fault.

4. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: No. 4

    Dion Waiters had a strong week for Cleveland, scoring 25 against the Bulls, 23 against the Raptors and 17 on the Clippers.

    But what's most noticeable has been his efficiency. Over the three-game stretch, he shot 23-of-43 from the floor, good for 53 percent.

    For Waiters, his effectiveness will come down to damage control. If he can put up these types of scoring numbers without disrupting the team's offense rhythm, he'll give the Cavaliers a fighter's chance on a routine basis.

3. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: No. 5

    Bradley Beal is coming off a monster double-double against the Knicks, scoring 29 points on 10 made field goals to go along with 11 rebounds in a complete individual performance.

    Earlier in the week, he went for 16 against Detroit and 20 against Toronto, so he's starting to put up big scoring numbers with regularity.

    If you were to tell Washington fans before the 2012 NBA draft that Beal would be averaging 14 points per game as a rookie, I think they'd take it.

    He's only shooting 40 percent from the floor, so despite the impressive scoring average, there's still plenty of room to grow. Improving his shot selection and finding easier avenues for points is the challenge moving forward.

    Like Damian Lillard, there's a sense of maturity in his game that jumps off the screen. I'm just not sure we're ready for Beal to replace Portland's star point guard as the No. 1 rookie just yet.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: No. 2

    Anthony Davis missed the last two games with a bone bruise on his left shoulder.

    The injury bug has hurt a lot of rookies this year, particularly Davis, who has now sat out 15 games already. 

    Davis' body still hasn't fully developed, so it's likely he's more vulnerable now than he will be down the road.

    Entering March, Davis sports a rock solid 20.77 PER averaging 12.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 50-percent shooting.

1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: No. 1

    Many have been calling for a new No. 1, but Damian Lillard has put his foot down.

    This week he dropped 26 on the Denver Nuggets and and 24 on the Minnesota Timberwolves, shooting a combined 17-of-32 from the floor.

    While Lillard's overall efficiency hasn't been ideal, his productivity has. He's averaging 18.5 points and 6.4 assists per game, and though Portland's record isn't exactly a thing of beauty, Lillard is being asked to manage an offense against a brutal schedule in the West in his first year on the job.

    There just isn't anyone qualified to replace Lillard as the No. 1 guy when you look at his entire body of work.

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