NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Late-Season Rankings and Surprises

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterMarch 16, 2013

NBA Rookie Stock Watch: Late-Season Rankings and Surprises

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    Come on. You couldn't have expected Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard to be this good this fast, could you?

    These guys have developed into stars at a rapid pace, and despite going No. 1 and No. 6 respectively in the 2012 NBA draft, their monstrous production has been a welcomed surprise.

    Andre Drummond's dominance when healthy has also been surprising. Though he hasn't played in over a month, he already flashed his huge upside in a limited role.

    Dion Waiters has been a scoring machine as of late, while Orlando's Moe Harkless has entered the top-10 conversation.

    Rookies Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas of Toronto lurk just outside the rankings, as does Donatas Motiejunas of the Rockets. Look for these guys to try to crack the top 10 next week.

10. Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 7

    This could be Andrew Nicholson's last week on the board after coach Jacque Vaughn inexplicably removed him from the rotation.

    Nicholson has only played two minutes over the last three games despite demonstrating a post game that gave Orlando an option for half-court points.

    It's possible that Vaughn hasn't been thrilled with Nicholson's low rebounding rate or defense, but he's too skilled offensively just to let marinate on the bench.

9. Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 9

    Alexey Shved came back to life this week, most notably going for 16 points and seven assists in a win over the Spurs.

    However, he still struggles to find the bottom of the net consistently, with his field-goal percentage dropping to a troubling 36.4 percent.

    His jumper has been erratic, and without springs or explosiveness, Shved is unable to get himself easy baskets above the rim.

    But Shved has a solid floor game with the ability to create offense off the dribble, and at 6'6", he's a tough cover in the backcourt. He's more of a facilitator from the wing than a scorer, so don't get too caught up in how many points he puts up per game.

8. Moe Harkless, Orlando Magic

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 10

    Add two more double-digit scoring games to Moe Harkless' resume.

    He scored 12 against the Lakers and went for 12 points and six steals against the Thunder this week.

    Harkless has really come on for the Magic as of late and has proved to be more than just a throw-in as part of the four-team Dwight Howard trade.

    He has big upside once his jumper improves and he figures out spacing and cleaner routes for getting half-court buckets.

7. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 6

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sprinkled in one good game this week among a couple of duds.

    He went for nine points, eight boards and two blocks in a beatdown of the Celtics. Unfortunately, he followed with a 2-of-12 showing in a loss to the Raptors.

    Consistency has been an issue for Kidd-Gilchrist all year long without the ability to create easy scoring opportunities for himself in the half-court.

    His suffocating defense and active motor help make up for his offensive limitations, but his perimeter game will need to improve to live up to No. 2 overall value.

6. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 8

    Harrison Barnes had an efficient week as a scorer, putting up 13 points against Detroit and 12 against the Bulls on a combined 11-of-16 shooting from the floor.

    That's more like it.

    Barnes gets good looks at the rim; he just hasn't converted them with consistency throughout the year.

    With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee all ahead in the pecking order, shots in Golden State's offense have been hard to come by.

    This week, Barnes made the best of his limited scoring opportunities.

5. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    Stock Report: Down

    Last Week's Rank: 3

    Bradley Beal continues to miss time with a bum ankle. He's now sat out 13 games already, which affects his rookie ranking.

    Though some felt the Wizards reached on Beal at No. 3 overall, he's flashed the potential to justify the value of a pick that high.

    Before going down, Beal averaged 14.2 points on 37.9 percent shooting from downtown. Assuming this ankle injury isn't a long-term issue, the Wizards should feel good about their 2012 draft pick.

4. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 5

    The Detroit Pistons haven't given a timetable for Andre Drummond's return; he has now missed his last 17 games with a back injury.

    Drummond has begun participating in basketball activities and has mentioned his back feels good, but the Pistons are obviously taking major precautions here.

    Or they just want to improve their odds of winning the lottery.

    When healthy, he's been one of the more pleasant surprises in the NBA with his dominance as a finisher, rebounder and rim protector.

3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Stock Report: Up

    Last Week's Rank: 4

    Ironically, after returning from an illness, Dion Waiters has been flat-out sick offensively.

    He scored over 20 points in three consecutive games this week. His most noteworthy performance came in a win over Washington, when he got to the line 14 times. This is something he needs to get more comfortable with, as too much of his offense centers on low-percentage shots from the perimeter.

    There's no doubt Waiters can light up the scoreboard, but doing a better job picking his spots as an attacker will improve his efficiency as a microwave scoring guard.

    Waiters averages nearly 15 points in less than 30 minutes per game as a rookie.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 2

    Anthony Davis' offensive production might be the biggest surprise among all the rookie feats.

    Over his past five games, Davis has averaged 16.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest on 54 percent shooting.

    His versatility inside the arc is crazy. Davis posts with his back to the basket, attacks the rim facing up, knocks down jumpers in the mid-range and makes his presence known on the glass as a tip-in master and rebounder.

    He has to be on the list of players you most want to see develop. There's just nothing this kid can't do, and he will only get better. The fact that he's a two-way forward simply sweetens the deal.

1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Stock Report: Steady

    Last Week's Rank: 1

    No surprise here. Damian Lillard continues to torch opposing defenses with the ball in his hands, going for 30 against Memphis and dropping 26 more on New York.

    What makes Lillard so dangerous is his ability to shoot off the dribble from anywhere in the 17-to-26-foot range.

    He's a nightmare to defend off ball screens. Between his pull-up jumper and dribble hesitation, he's a ridiculously tough cover when he has room to operate.

    Over his last five games, he's averaged 26.2 points and 7.6 assists on 55 percent shooting from the floor and 45 percent from downtown.

    This kid is a star, and he's still in his rookie season.