Setting Odds for 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year
This could be a tough year for NBA rookies. Not too many are in a position to immediately succeed, whether it's due to a lack of NBA readiness or a crowded team lineup.
In setting the odds for this year's 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year candidates, it seems there are about nine players with a realistic shot.
But even the favorite has some pretty enticing odds without a clear-cut option.
Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks: 36-1
The Knicks could always use shooters. Unfortunately, they have enough perimeter-oriented scoring guards in the rotation. Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are all expected to see minutes at the 2; add Mike Woodson's distaste for rookies, and Hardaway's suit game better be up to par.
Shane Larkin, Dallas Mavericks: 36-1
With Dallas inking Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Monta Ellis, Larkin will be lucky to see the floor as a rookie. The fact that he broke his ankle days before summer league won't help his cause either.
Sergey Karasev, Cleveland Cavaliers: 33-1
Karasev isn't physically ready to make an impact with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He'll be used as a shot-maker in a minor role as a rookie. I like Karasev's long-term outlook—just not his chances at winning Rookie of the Year.
Dennis Schroeder, Atlanta Hawks: 33-1
It's unclear how Atlanta plans on using Dennis Schroeder with Jeff Teague. Chances are Teague plays heavy minutes and puts up big numbers this year, with the Hawks sprinkling Schroeder in as a backup. There's no real shot here for Schroeder to win Rookie of the Year, though he could end up being the top point guard from this draft.
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers: 33-1
Who even knows if Nerlens Noel is going to play this season? With the Sixers in tank mode, they might not even risk it. Noel won't be an impact player until his second year in the league.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns
Alex Len isn't ready for a full-time role as an NBA rookie. He only recorded two 20-point games in two years at Maryland, flashing his upside in doses as opposed to a steady stream.
With Marcin Gortat back for another year in Phoenix, along with Markieff Morris, Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee, the Suns have a number of options they can play up front.
Phoenix took Len for his long-term outlook, not as a short-term solution. Don't expect too many big games from him this upcoming season.
Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota Timberwolves
Shabazz Muhammad hasn't played a minute yet, and Flip Saunders has already threatened him with the D-League. Despite Minnesota's need for an athletic wing, it's not going to be Muhammad, at least not this year.
Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin and Alexey Shved should all be ahead of him on the depth chart to start the season. Muhammad's best shot at minutes is proving he can come in right away as a knock-down shooter. Without the ability to create, rebound or defend at a high level, Muhammad will have to make the most of the open looks he gets.
Something tells me he won't get that opportunity this year. Though the odds are enticing, there are better places to spend your money.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has the tough task of transitioning from go-to scorer at Georgia to complementary scorer in Detroit.
That transition will take more than a year.
The Pistons also have a somewhat crowded backcourt with Brandon Jennings, Rodney Stuckey, Chauncey Billups and Will Bynum.
Even if he does get minutes, it's going to take Caldwell-Pope a while before he figures out where his shots will come from. He won't have the freedom to jack up seven threes a game, which is what he averaged as a sophomore in the SEC.
With his minutes likely limited and his offensive game unlikely to immediately translate, Caldwell-Pope won't be in the running for Rookie of the Year.
Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Bennett hasn't seen much of the court this summer. Shoulder surgery has kept him off it.
That's not going to help with the transition process, especially given how crowded Cleveland's frontcourt has gotten. The Cavaliers added Earl Clark and Andrew Bynum, which could slide Anderson Varejao into the 4 spot for a timeshare with Tristan Thompson.
Alonzo Gee and Tyler Zeller will both be fighting for minutes as well.
It could also take a while for Bennett to get familiar with the size of the NBA interior. At around 6'7", he won't be able to bully defenders around like he's used to.
If Bennett can find a niche for himself as a combo forward, he'll have a bright future with a towering ceiling. But winning Rookie of the Year seems like a long shot given his current situation.
Otto Porter, Washington Wizards
There just isn't one thing Otto Porter does well enough for us to expect immediate results as a rookie. Plus, Washington's offense, dominated by John Wall, is a far cry from Georgetown's motion offense where everyone shares the ball equally.
However, Washington's wing situation is pretty weak with Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster. Porter has the basketball IQ, physical tools and motor to at least fight for regular minutes. He just won't be able to generate the stats it would take to win this award.
Porter struggled badly in his first two summer league games before tweaking his hamstring in the third. I'd give him another year before asking for a legitimate contribution.
Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
Mark me down for taking Michael Carter-Williams as the favorite to lead all rookies in assists and turnovers.
Currently the only point guard on the roster, Carter-Williams is going to have the ball in his hands a ton. Unfortunately, he won't have many supporting weapons to go to. He's being thrown right into the fire without a suit or a helmet.
Carter-Williams finished third in the country in assists this past season. He made a habit out of getting into the paint and setting up teammates for buckets. But if he's not knocking down that jumper, defenses will start going under screens and eliminating driving lanes.
You can pretty much guarantee a field-goal percentage around 40 percent and an average of roughly three cough-ups a game.
For Carter-Williams to win Rookie of the Year, he'll need to average at least seven dimes and consistently score in double digits. I'm more worried about the latter.
C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
There's no question that C.J. McCollum has the scoring arsenal to enter an NBA game tomorrow and put up points. But with the addition of Mo Williams, along with a starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, McCollum's minutes could fluctuate.
His ability to create and make shots from all over the floor should give Portland's second unit a big-time boost. This is a team whose leading scorer off the bench last season was Meyers Leonard at 5.5 points a game.
McCollum should have a green light—he just might not be able to use it on a routine basis. I'd peg him at nine to 10 points a game as a rookie.
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
The key for Ben McLemore as a rookie will be managing the cold streaks. As a perimeter-oriented scorer, they're going to come, and he has to be prepared.
In the past, we've seen a couple of misses affect the way McLemore finishes games. At times he gets too passive; other times his shot selection suffers.
I'd imagine McLemore sees regular minutes as a rookie with Marcus Thornton coming off the bench and Jimmer Fredette falling out of the rotation. McLemore's ability to defend should make him more valuable than both of them right off the bat.
Consistency will ultimately be what determines how successful McLemore is as a rookie. He'll have to find ways to score when his jumper isn't dropping, though that seems a little unlikely to happen in his first year as a pro.
McLemore has the chance to be the top player from this class when it's all said and done—just not right away.
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
Cody Zeller's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit when Charlotte brought in Al Jefferson to man the post.
Jefferson shouldn't take minutes away from Zeller, who has the versatility to play either the 4 or the 5. But he could affect Zeller's scoring opportunities, given they operate from similar spots on the floor.
Zeller is likely to spend more time on the perimeter as a rookie than he's used to, which actually might turn out to be a good thing. In college, Zeller struggled with contact down low. In the mid-to-long range, he'll have an advantage facing the rim where his foot speed allows him to take slower bigs off the dribble.
I'd make Zeller the sleeper to take this award, especially if his jumper turns out to be the real deal. He has the size, athleticism and skill set ready to contribute right away. As long as Jefferson's presence doesn't interfere, Zeller should have a strong first season with the Bobcats.
Trey Burke, Utah Jazz
Trey Burke is definitely in position to put up numbers as a rookie. You can Sharpie him in for around 30 minutes a game with John Lucas the only other point guard for Utah.
It's still tough to shake the thought of Burke's summer league performance. He shot a dreadful 24 percent from the floor and 1-of-19 from downtown, struggling to get separation as a scorer or playmaker.
Without too many weapons around him in Utah, there are bound to be some rough patches along the way for Burke in 2013-14.
Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see him average around 14 points and six assists. They just might not be too pretty.
Burke has as good of an opportunity as anyone to win this award if he can quickly pick up on the new size and speed of the game.
Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
Kelly Olynyk sure looked NBA-ready while he was tearing up the summer league for 18 points a game on 58 percent shooting.
The good news for Olynyk's short-term outlook is that the opportunity is there. It appears Kris Humphries is the only other player on the roster capable of logging minutes at the center position. Olynyk is the one seven-footer this team has.
With top-notch scoring instincts and a diverse offensive game, Olynyk should be able to come in and immediately put points on the board.
However, he's not an impact rebounder or defender. Olynyk might be a candidate to lead the rookies in points, but he falls just short of being the favorite to take down the trophy. He's still a good bet at 6-1.
Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Victor Oladipo will enter the season as the favorite for Rookie of the Year.
After seeing his stock soar to No. 2 overall status, he went on to average 19 points and five assists on 54 percent three-point shooting in summer league. Not only was he making the athletic plays off the ball he normally makes, but Oladipo was creating with the dribble as a scorer and passer as well.
The only thing standing in Oladipo's way this year could be Arron Afflalo, who's locked into this rotation as the starting shooting guard.
However, the Magic have been attempting to run Oladipo at the point guard position in order to maximize his opportunity.
If we're talking about the rookie most NBA-ready for November, Oladipo has to get the nod. I've got a feeling Orlando will do everything it can to give him a chance right away.