5 NBA Rookies Who Exceeded the Hype in 2012-13
The 2012-13 NBA rookie class has surely left a lot to talk about across the league, for both fans and the league's competing teams.
Of course, we all know the names that make it to the highlight reel almost every night, but there have also been some stars that will leave a lot to talk about before the season is over.
This article will examine both the names that have surpassed expectations, as well as players who have the potential to surpass their counterparts.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
The Portland Trail Blazers' rookie out of Weber State has quickly made himself noticed among his Western Conference rivals, boasting an average of 18.5 PPG and scoring at least 20 points in his last two games.
Lillard is part of a team that has demonstrated its fair share of struggle over the past few seasons; just when you thought the Blazers finally had all the pieces to get it together and really make a run in the West, something came along and the proverbial monkey wrench would be thrown.
However, with all the team's eyes being on Lillard, Portland finally has that one thing it has been lacking for so long: promise. Portland currently sports a 27-31 record, good for fourth in the Northwest Division and 10th in the West overall.
The team's playoff chances look slim at the moment, but its star guard still has a long road ahead of him, one that could hopefully lead to some progress for his squad.
The Cleveland Cavaliers hit paydirt when they drafted Kyrie Irving last season, using the then-rookie to show their fans that there is hope for success in the post-LeBron era. This year, that hope was reinforced when they drafted Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Sporting a not-too-shabby average of 14.8 PPG, Walters has managed to score more than 20 points in at least half of the games he's played this season. And with Irving currently out due to injury, Waiters has done an exceptional job filling his shoes, including going 10-of-16 in Cleveland's 101-98 win over the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 26.
Needless to say, with the tandem of Waiters and Irving, Cavs fans can finally let out a sigh of relief, knowing that all will be well in a world without the King.
Yet another focal point for a struggling team in search of a star replacement, New Orleans Hornets Forward Anthony Davis has shown that the post-CP3 days have arrived, and they can be very good. Davis can get it done on both sides of the court, averaging 12.5 PPG and 7.4 RPG, including a few games with double-digit boards.
Despite being hit with an injured shoulder, this year's No. 1 draft pick has shown some reasonable progress in turning his team around, and his current predicament will most likely be no excuse for him to slow down.
Look for New Orleans to find ways to build around Davis in the near future and recruit players across the league that can complement his style of athleticism. At this rate, the Hornets can be a team to look out for in the seasons to come.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Just like the Irving/Waiters duo in Cleveland, the Washington Wizards have found some excellent help for John Wall in Bradley Beal. The No. 3 overall pick has been one of those names you may not know much about unless you're paying close attention to the Wizards or just have a fascination with the entire rookie class.
Beal's performance as of late has been nothing short of exceptional, and according to an interview with The Washington Post, his team has given him quite the confidence boost.
"Ever since November, my confidence has been going up and up. My teammates do a great job of giving me the confidence I need. And Coach [Randy Wittman] as well, to put me in a situation to make plays happen. And I just do a great job of staying humble and working hard, because I have something to prove."
Once Beal and Wall finally mesh as an effective duo, they could very well give Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook a run for their money as one of the best pairings in the league.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Recognized as one of the NBA's brightest up-and-comers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a catalyst in the Charlotte Bobcats' future as serious contenders in the Eastern Conference. Since the team's inception, the Bobcats have not had that one key player that they can boast as a future franchise star. They may have found that player in Kidd-Gilchrist.
Statistically speaking, Kidd-Gilchrist may not look that impressive. But just like any other rookie, he shows some tremendous skills when given the chance. Being recognized in November as co-NBA rookie of the month along with the Blazers' Lillard, the former Kentucky Wildcat has demonstrated dominance, both as a scorer and in the paint.
Along with fellow rookie Kemba Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist can very well give the Bobcats a career with the kind of accomplishments that will make His Airness proud.