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Biggest Changes Each Impact NBA Rookie Must Make This Offseason

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterApril 10, 2013

Biggest Changes Each Impact NBA Rookie Must Make This Offseason

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    There haven't been too many impact NBA rookies in 2012-13. But the ones who have had an impact are likely to play prominent roles in the league for years to come.

    Still, each impact NBA rookie has plenty of room to grow. In order to improve as a player, they'll have to make a few changes to their game to help maximize their talent.

    We took the top eight NBA rookies and highlighted what should be No. 1 on everyone's offseason priority list.

Anthony Davis: Hit the Weight Room

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    Nobody saw Anthony Davis contributing this much offensively as a rookie. That's because at around 6'11'', he weighs the same amount as shooting guard James Harden at 220 pounds.

    Davis' days spent playing guard in high school have done wonders for him with the Hornets. He's able to play facing the basket on the perimeter and take advantage of the slower foot speeds of his frontcourt competitors.

    But that's only half the battle.

    Now, he must take advantage of his size, touch and awareness inside. By putting on muscle, he'll get easier finishes at the rim and better looks in the post.

    It will also help him defensively. Though listed as a power forward or center, Davis would struggle defending guys like Carlos Boozer or Zach Randolph.

    When Davis bulks up, he's going to be one of the toughest covers in the entire NBA. Adding weight to his frame will benefit him on both sides of the ball.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Shot Creation

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    The scoring opportunities come to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and not the other way around.

    Kidd-Gilchrist averages fewer than eight shots a game. Without the ability to create his own shot, specifically in the half court, Kidd-Gilchrist is stuck relying on slashes and fast-break opportunities to put points on the board.

    Right now in the half court, he's not much of a threat with the ball in his hands. He's an exceptional defender and his motor makes things happen, but he'll need to come back as a sophomore with some offensive moves in his repertoire.

    That, along with a spot-up jump shot.

    Since he plays exclusively off the ball, Kidd-Gilchrist will maximize his scoring opportunities with a catch-and-shoot three-ball, even if his offensive game remains unrefined.

Bradley Beal: Create Easier Scoring Opportunities

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    Bradley Beal is an excellent shooter, but no player can put up consistent results if most of his attempts come from the perimeter.

    He's got to find a way to get to the rack or create easier scoring opportunities for himself within 10 feet of the rim.

    Beal is only shooting 41 percent from the floor. Getting more balanced shots and creating easier opportunities off the dribble will improve his efficiency as a scoring guard.

    And building ankle strength, if that's humanly possible.

Dion Waiters: Shot Selection

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    This was an easy one.

    The numbers say it all: 41.1 percent shooting, 31.6 percent from downtown, 3.6 free-throw attempts per game.

    Dion Waiters' shot selection is what needs to improve in order for the Cavaliers to get the most of his talent. He takes difficult and low-percentage shots, including long two-pointers and tough shots on the move. And instead of initiating contact, Waiters tends to try and make the acrobatic finish.

    He's not a great three-point shooter at this point in his career, and until he is, Waiters should be focusing more on getting to the line rather than playing hero ball on the perimeter.

    It's unlikely Waiters ever shoots a strong percentage from the floor, but until he improves his shot selection, his offensive services will be best used in a sixth man role off the bench.

Damian Lillard: Half-Court Facilitation

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    It's hard to knock Damian Lillard after the show he's put on as a rookie, but he still has work to do to improve his efficiency as a point guard.

    Lillard is a phenomenal offensive player but not necessarily the greatest facilitator.

    He needs to do a better job of picking and choosing when to attack and when to distribute. His shot-to-pass selection has been his biggest weakness thus far, though it should be expected after going from the Big Sky to the NBA.

    Lillard averages nearly three turnovers a game with a 42.8 percent clip from the field. He's also taking 15.7 shots and only dishing out 6.5 assists. He might want to shave a little off the shot attempts and add to the assist column to give him better balance as Portland's ball-dominator. 

Harrison Barnes: In-Between Game

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    Harrison Barnes has shown he can knock down spot-up three-pointers and finish at the rim, but he hasn't shown much in between.

    The in-between game is all about creating off the dribble. This will allow Barnes to get some better looks at the rim, and more importantly, extra looks at the rim.

    Barnes only averages 7.7 shot attempts per game. In order to increase his threat as an offensive weapon, he'll need to improve in isolation and become more aggressive with the ball.

    He's got the ability to separate with step-back jumpers, but not high-percentage looks. Plus, he only takes 2.4 free-throw attempts per game.

Andre Drummond: Post Game

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    Despite his dominant presence as a finisher, rebounder and rim protector, Andre Drummond rarely generated his own offense with the ball in his hands.

    Most of his points came off catching and dunking, alley-oops or tip-ins.

    To increase his offensive purpose, Drummond will need to develop some type of post game so the offense can feature him. He's strictly an off-ball contributor right now. And there's nothing wrong with that.

    But to maximize Drummond's natural talent, he'll need to become more of a threat with the ball in his hands.

    A mid-range jumper would help as well, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Moe Harkless: Periemter Game

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    My pick for draft-day sleeper of 2012, Moe Harkless has shined during the second half of the season.

    Harkless has serious potential, which he'll be able to maximize once he refines his perimeter game. This is more than just shooting. It's creating scoring opportunities, like pull-up and step-back jumpers, along with a spot-up three-ball.

    He's got the potential to be a Rudy Gay-like offensive threat. And with exceptional athleticism, size and length, Harkless should be able to separate when given room to operate.

    Once he polishes off his perimeter game by improving as a shot-creator and shot-maker, Harkless could wind up as a long-term top scoring option for Orlando's offense.

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