NBA Rookies Whose College Pasts Will Reduce the Learning Curve

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJuly 12, 2013

NBA Rookies Whose College Pasts Will Reduce the Learning Curve

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    Some guys are just a little more prepared than others for life in the NBA.

    Past experiences, whether it's competition, coaching or systems, can play a role in a prospect's attempt to make the transition. 

    Some guys just have natural talent in areas that happen to translate. These are the rookies who might be a little more NBA-ready based on their experience at the college level. 

Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

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    Not only has Victor Oladipo been playing against some of the fiercest competition in college, but his overall game is ready to produce immediate results.

    Whether Orlando runs Oladipo at the point or off the ball, he's going to find a way to pick up easy buckets attacking the rim.

    But so far in summer league, we've actually seen Oladipo succeed with the pull-up and step-back jumper.

    If Oladipo can implement this into his offensive arsenal, he could put up numbers right away, given his projected freedom in Orlando. 

    Without many established scorers on the Magic, Oladipo should have the chance to get acquainted fairly quickly. There's no doubt he'll be in the mix for Rookie of the Year. 

Otto Porter, Washington Wizards

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    Because of his versatility and NBA-caliber physical tools, Otto Porter's transition process should be seamless. 

    As a scorer, he can convert from every spot on the floor, regardless of angle, whether he's stationary or on the move. Technically, you could say that Porter is in scoring position whenever he catches the ball. 

    And you don't have to worry about him creating his own shot. That's just not his game. He takes advantage of the scoring opportunities that are given to him, and when they're not there, he gives it up. 

    The best way to put it is that he scores within the flow of the offense. 

    Porter is an intelligent player who doesn't have to rely on any one part of his game. He's an excellent passer, an active rebounder and a lengthy defender. 

    I'm not expecting him to dominate as a rookie, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him start right away. 

Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Gorgui Dieng's role at the pro level will be exactly what it was in college. That should help reduce the learning curve.

    He was the anchor for the national champion Louisville Cardinals. Dieng's responsibilities included protecting the rim and finishing around it, two things that his size, length and footwork make it easy for him to do. 

    Dieng will obviously have to adjust to the size and speed of the typical NBA athlete, but he won't be asked to stray from the paint. He'll have the same parking spot in Minnesota as he did at Louisville—right in the middle of the lane. 

Sergey Karasev, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    At just 19 years old, Sergey Karasev led Russia's top league in scoring. 

    Most international kids his age are playing five to 10 minutes a night. Not Karasev, who clearly has a mature understanding and feel for the game.

    Unlike most rookies, Karasev has experience playing against bigger, stronger men—European men at that. 

    But he's also a lights-out shooter. Karasev can knock down shots with comfort out to 27 feet from the rim, both off the catch and off the dribble. 

    Basketball IQ and long-range accuracy typically translate to any level of play. Karasev should be able to come in right away and provide Kyrie Irving with a shot-maker and disciplined offensive counterpart. 

Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets

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    After playing four years for Coach K in the ACC, Mason Plumlee should be prepared to make the next step. He's played and practiced against NBA pros, so the new level of competition shouldn't be all that new. 

    But Plumlee also excels in two areas of the game that remain the same regardless of level.

    First, he's an excellent rebounder who goes after balls and tracks them down at their highest point. You don't average 10 a game in the ACC just because you're 7'0''. 

    Second, he's an elite finisher inside, given his unique combination of athleticism, hops and coordination. Plumlee can play high above the rim, catch balls with one hand and convert them into points no matter how awkward the angle. 

    Plumlee will never be the 17-point scorer he was in college, but he should be able to inject his athleticism right into Brooklyn's front line. 

    He'll pick up easy buckets and make plays on the glass whether his skill set is refined or not. 

     

     

Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Reggie Bullock entered the draft with an identity that no team will try and change. Bullock is your classic "three and D" small forward—nothing more, nothing less. 

    He shot nearly 44 percent from downtown as a junior at North Carolina. Bullock has a picturesque delivery as a shooter with mechanics that remain consistent even when under duress.

    With traditional wing size and NBA-level athleticism, Bullock can shoot, defend and attack the basket in line drives. 

    The role Bullock had at North Carolina will be the same role he has his final season as a pro. The only adjustment Bullock will have to make is to a deeper three-point arc, but if you've seen this kid shoot, you know that won't be an issue. 

     

Isaiah Canaan, Houston Rockets

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    Isaiah Canaan ran a good amount of pick-and-rolls throughout his four-year career at Murray State. The pick-and-roll has become a huge part of the NBA half-court game, so Canaan's familiarity running it should reduce the learning curve slightly. 

    He's also an elite long-range shooter. Canaan shot over 40 percent from downtown in three out of his four years in college. His ability to shoot off the dribble will come in handy right away, given the frequency of ball screens he'll see from 30 feet away.

    The Rockets could use Canaan as a backup point guard or scoring spark off the bench. Assuming they don't give him big minutes early on, I'd bet on Canaan producing in a limited role as a rookie. 

Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

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    While playing for Bill Self and Kansas won't hurt, it's the blend of athleticism and long-range accuracy that should help reduce the learning curve. 

    McLemore will be able to come in right away and contribute on both sides of the ball. His above-the-rim explosiveness will allow him to pick up easy buckets off cuts, lobs and transition opportunities. 

    And that jumper is just too sweet. McLemore has the range, mechanics and size to consistently get off and knock down shots from all over the floor. 

    For McLemore, an uncontested three-point attempt is an easy scoring opportunity. 

    It's tough for rookies to get those consistent, easy scoring opportunities. McLemore should get a few by default every game.