NBA Rookie Rankings, Summer League Edition

Brendan BowersContributor IIJuly 21, 2013

NBA Rookie Rankings, Summer League Edition

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    With rookies Anthony Bennett, Nerlens Noel and Alex Len currently sidelined due to injury, three of the top six players selected in the 2013 draft have been inactive for summer league. 

    While excluding those injured first-year NBA players, this summer league rookie ranking is measuring the production of those rookies who have taken the floor.

    This list includes all rookies who participated in Orlando Summer League as well as those who are participating in Las Vegas Summer League.

    Despite rookies like Otto Porter, Trey Burke and Shabazz Muhammad still presumably having ample opportunity to contend for All-Rookie honors at varying degrees in 2013-14, they were each omitted from this list based on their statistical performances this summer. 

No. 15: Tony Snell, Chicago Bulls

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    Summer League Stats: 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists

    Tony Snell's length on the basketball court is impressive. What's been more impressive, however, is the 20th overall pick's willingness to use that length defensively. 

    He's averaged 1.2 steals and blocked a couple of shots from the wing position during his five-game stretch with the Chicago Bulls in Las Vegas. More often than not, he's also found himself in the proper help-side position on defense.

    Though he's been inconsistent shooting the basketball, knocking down only 36.7 percent of his field-goal attempts overall, Snell has been a consistent rebounder. 

    During his last three games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, the New Mexico product averaged 8.3 boards per night. In order to earn minutes off the Bulls bench this season, the rebounding and defensive production Snell's demonstrated thus far must continue. 

No. 14: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons

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    Summer League Stats: 13.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished his summer strong during the final three games in Orlando.

    After scoring only 15 points combined on 4-of-20 shooting against the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, Caldwell-Pope went on to average 18 points over his final three contests.

    Despite the inconsistency early on, KCP does appear to be a nice complement for the Detroit Pistons to the inside presence led by Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. 

    The more he'll be able to capitalize on the open looks created by the attention paid to his teammates around the basket, the better Detroit appears to be long term as its rebuilding effort continues. 

No. 13: Deshaun Thomas, San Antonio Spurs

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    Summer League Stats: 12.4 points, 5 rebounds, 1.2 assists 

    Deshaun Thomas is a streaky shooter. When he's locked in, Thomas is as prolific a scorer as there is in this year's draft class. The problem is, he isn't always locked in.

    During the first three games of Las Vegas Summer League action, Thomas looked like a player who should've been selected in the first round.

    Against the Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks, he averaged 17 points and five rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field. During Thomas' next two contests, however, he shot just 4-of-23 combined to average 5.5 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks.

    The Ohio State product's overall body of work in Vegas, though, has demonstrated reason to believe that he will be capable of providing a scoring punch off the bench for the Spurs. To what degree will ultimately depend on his consistency.

No. 12: Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Summer League Stats: 13.6 points, 6.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds

    Once you're able to get past the awful shooting percentage from Michael Carter-Williams during the Orlando Summer League, his overall production is relatively encouraging. 

    The 27.1 percent he shot from the field, howeveralong with the 15.8 percent he shot from three-point range—are a tough pill to swallow initially.

    Besides that, though, the Philadelphia 76ers guard was a productive playmaker at 6.8 assists per night. He also remained aggressive enough to shoot himself into double-figures during four of the five games he played. 

    Despite averaging 4.8 turnovers, MCW did lead all rookies in assists as well, which was certainly a positive for the player ultimately tasked with replacing an All-Star in Jrue Holiday.

No. 11: Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets

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    Summer League Stats: 13.2 points, 7 rebounds, 2.4 assists

    The Duke product, selected 22nd overall by the Brooklyn Nets, opened Orlando Summer League with a double-double at 10 points and 14 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons. 

    He went on to also score 23 points during two other contests before averaging 13.2 points and seven rebounds for the competition. Plumlee's youth and athleticism appears to be a solid complement to the veteran-laden Nets led by Jason Kidd. 

    The more active Plumlee remains around the basket, the more minutes he'll inevitably earn when the regular season tips off. 

No. 10: Archie Goodwin, Phoenix Suns

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    Summer League Stats: 13.4 points, 3 rebounds, 0.8 assists

    Archie Goodwin was the youngest player selected in the 2013 NBA draft. He won't turn 19 until August 17. Despite that, after spending only one season with the Kentucky Wildcats, Goodwin has been impressive thus far for the Phoenix Suns. 

    In four of the five games, Goodwin has finished with double-figure points. He also scored as many as 20 twice, topping out at 22 against the Memphis Grizzlies on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with four rebounds.

    What's been most encouraging about Goodwin, however, has been his efficiency on the offensive end of the floor. During a July 20 win over the Toronto Raptors, he shot 5-of-5 from the field to score 20 points. He's also shot 50 percent overall and 77.8 percent from three-point range on nine total attempts.

    His athleticism and upside are certainly encouraging takeaways for Suns fans as well, who may have acquired a draft-day steal late in the first round with Goodwin.

     

No. 9: Ray McCallum, Sacramento Kings

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    Summer League Stats: 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4 assists

    The coming-out party for Ray McCallum was celebrated during game two of his summer league career.

    Despite losing to the Golden State Warriors decisively, 80-66, McCallum did everything he could for the Sacramento Kings while scoring 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. He also proved to be a difference-maker defensively while recording six steals. 

    McCallum later completed his summer tour of duty by finishing with a double-double at 12 points and 11 assists against the Atlanta Hawks.

    The second-round pick, selected 36th overall by the Kings, made strides to secure himself a roster spot, so long as the positive momentum carries over into training camp. 

No. 8: Jack Cooley, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Summer League Stats: 15 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks

    An NBA team should have drafted Jack Cooley. That's at least one takeaway that appears unanimous from those engaged with summer league action in Las Vegas. 

    Over a six-game stretch, the undrafted forward from Notre Dame has pieced together a consistently productive run for the Grizzlies summer league squad.

    During five of his six games, Cooley finished in double-figure points, scoring as many as 20 twice. He also collected at least 10 rebounds three times while never finishing with fewer than seven boards.

    Whether he finds a place on the Grizzlies' regular-season roster or not, expect Cooleywho shot 52.7 percent this summerto make an NBA roster somewhere in 2013-14. Even if it didn't look that way on draft night. 

No. 7: Dennis Schroeder, Atlanta Hawks

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    Summer League Stats: 10.8 points, 5.6 assists, 1.6 steals

    Among all players who have appeared in at least three Las Vegas Summer League games, Dennis Schroeder of the Atlanta Hawks is the leader in assists with 5.6 per contest.

    The 10.8 points average has been fueled by 16 and 15-point efforts in each of his last two games, as Schroeder's overall production continues to improve. 

    While the turnovers will need to come down, it's hard to not look at Schroeder's game and see similarities early on with Rajon Rondo's skill set.

    Schroeder's long arms have remained in the passing lanes defensively, and he's demonstrated great signs of court vision with the ball in his hands.

    With Jeff Teague and Schroeder anchoring the position, the Hawks appear to be set at point guard for the next few seasons. 

No. 6: Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

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    Summer League Stats: 15.8 points, 5 rebounds

    Ben McLemore didn't record any assists this summer. Over a five-game stretch, he finished with zero assists in total. But while that's almost comical, the Sacramento Kings didn't select the shooting guard from Kansas seventh overall so that he'd come in and pass up scoring opportunities.

    The Kings want McLemore to put it up, and that's exactly what he's been doing.

    He opened with a 4-of-23 performance in a 76-73 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, where he also shot just 1-of-11 from three. Besides that outing, however (along with an 0-of-8 effort against the Minnesota Timberwolves), McLemore also shot 18-for-35 in two games against the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors for a total of 53 points. 

    During those two contests, where McLemore averaged 26.5 points on 51.4 percent shooting, he demonstrated what the rookie with the best shooting form in this year's draft is ultimately capable of in the pros.

    So long as McLemore stays aggressive, his game should translate just fine in 2013-14.

No. 5: Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Summer League Stats: 18 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists

    When the Los Angeles Clippers selected Reggie Bullock 25th overall, it seemed plausible that the North Carolina product could find himself in the rotation as soon as his rookie season began.

    After watching him through five games of Las Vegas Summer League action, there's even more reason to believe that Bullock will be contributing early for one of the premier teams in the Western Conference.

    At 6'7" and a solid 200 pounds, Bullock is one of the bigger perimeter players competing this summer. He's used that size and strength to shoot 42.3 percent over five games while averaging 18 points. 

    What's most impressive about his scoring production, however, is that Bullock has consistently averaged those 18 points on a nightly basis.

    His effectiveness from three-point range could certainly stand to improve (shooting only 28.2 percent from long range), but the body of work we've seen from Bullock thus far has been nothing short of a net positive for Los Angeles. 

No. 4: Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

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    Summer League Stats: 19 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds

    Only Reggie Jackson from the Oklahoma City Thunder averaged more than the 19 points that Victor Oladipo scored in Orlando Summer League action earlier this month. The second overall pick of the Orlando Magic also dished out 5.0 assists while collecting 4.3 rebounds. 

    During the first step in Oladipo's transition from a shooting guard on the collegiate level to a point guard in the NBA, the only real concern was the 4.8 turnovers he averaged.

    While he will certainly have to improve that area of his game, the summer exposed plenty of reasons to be bullish on Oladipo's future. He projects to be an electric finisher on the professional level who also knocked down a game-winning jump shot during his final summer league appearance.

    Though his 37.5 percent shooting from the field will also need to improve, Oladipo did add seven made three-pointers in four games, which could be a sign of what's to come from long range.

No. 3: C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Summer League Stats: 21 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists

    If not for the 36.6 percent that C.J. McCollum shot this summer, he might have ranked higher than third on this list.  While averaging 21 points over a five-game stretch, the 10th overall pick of the Portland Trail Blazers led all players in scoring who appeared in at least three games.

    On the strength of a lightning-quick release, McCollum got his shot off at will in Vegas. 

    Some of his field-goal attempts weren't the wisest selections, and he will have to clean that up before making his official NBA debut. But what McCollum expects to provide is legitimate firepower off the Trail Blazers bench behind Damian Lillard that Portland simply didn't have last year. 

    As a point guard, the more attention his scoring prowess commands, the more we may also see him develop as a playmaker on the second unit. He didn't necessarily look to pass in Vegas, but that doesn't mean he can't.

No. 2: Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics

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    Summer League Stats: 18 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists

    Kelly Olynyk played like a rookie who could've been drafted much higher than 13th overall.

    The Gonzaga product, acquired by the Boston Celtics, ranked fourth in scoring among all participants and fifth in rebounding while averaging 18 points and 7.8 boards. He also shot 57.8 percent in Orlando while playing 24.2 minutes per night.

    Olynyk opened his summer league run with a game-high 25 points against the Orlando Magic. In that contest, the big man also knocked down all five of his free-throw attempts. He'd later go on to record a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds against the Houston Rockets. 

    When the 2013-14 campaign begins, there will be plenty of minutes available for Olynyk under new head coach Brad Stevens. If his summer production is any indication, Olynyk's name could be in Rookie of the Year discussions by season's end.

No. 1: Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Summer League Stats: 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists

    Cody Zeller has offered Charlotte Bobcats fans plenty of reasons to be encouraged by his performance in Las Vegas Summer League.

    The fourth overall pick out of Indiana has demonstrated a versatile skill set offensively that appears to be specifically suited for life in the NBA. In the four games he's played, Zeller has scored with his back to the basket while also stepping out on the perimeter to knock down jumpers consistently.

    What's been additionally impressive, however, is the success he's had on the glass. Fueled by an average of eight defensive rebounds, the 9.3 boards that Zeller has collected per game are good for sixth overall in Vegas. 

    He's been fluid and confident with the ball in his hands and projects to be a solid fit alongside Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker as the rebuild continues in Charlotte.