Very Early Predictions for the 2014 NBA All-Rookie Teams
The NBA All-Rookie teams honor the top 10 rookies of the year. These rookies are typically blessed with immediate playing time, as well as a level of NBA-readiness that allows them to compete right out of the gates.
There aren't too many first-year players set for guaranteed minutes. Most who were taken outside the lottery will have to wait their turn. In fact, only six of them have a realistic shot at starting.
Still, there are 10 strong candidates to make an immediate NBA impact.
We've predicted the first and second All-Rookie teams based on each player's projected role and how prepared they are to fill it.
First Team: Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Points per game: 13.5
Rebounds per game: 4.3
Assists per game: 4.0
Field-goal percentage: .474
Three-point percentage: .322
Victor Oladipo seems like an All-Rookie First Team lock, given his production in summer league and overall style of play.
Now he's at the point where he's a threat with the ball, as opposed to making plays off it. Oladipo showed an improved shot-creating arsenal consisting of pull-up and step-back jumpers. He was also more elusive off the dribble, racking up five assists per game in Orlando as an experimental point guard.
We know he's going to be a defensive asset and constant motor in the lineup. But after expanding his offensive game, Oladipo now projects as a two-way playmaker. He'll get minutes right away at multiple positions and should enter the season as the favorite for Rookie of the Year.
First Team: Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
Points per game: 13.8
Rebounds per game: 6.9
Assists per game: 1.4
Field-goal percentage: .538
Three-point percentage: .274
Kelly Olynyk looked NBA-ready throughout his first stint in summer ball. Every shot he created was a good look, whether it was off a jump shot, post move or easy bucket on the break.
Without having filled Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's shoes, the Celtics will be relying on Olynyk to make up for some of that lost production. And as the only seven-footer and true center in the rotation, playing time should be available.
You hear the word "skilled" get tossed around quite loosely, but Olynyk truly is. Lacking athleticism and springs, he relies on executing moves and maximizing scoring opportunities. At 7'0'', he's comfortable with every aspect of offense, from pulling up off the dribble to scoring back to the rim.
He's got visible weaknesses on defense and the boards, but with the size, talent and opportunity, Olynyk should prevail as a top-five rookie in 2013-14.
First Team: Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
Points per game: 13.6
Rebounds per game: 3.8
Assists per game: 1.1
Field-goal percentage: .444
Three-point percentage: .368
There are two types of easy buckets at the pro level—open jump shots and above-the-rim finishes. Ben McLemore gets both. Though he's likely to suffer from inconsistency, McLemore is bound to put points on the board as a rookie and will probably be starting alongside Marcus Thornton.
McLemore gave us a taste of his best and worst traits during summer ball. He showed off his ability to heat up and score in bunches, as well as his tendency to cool off.
Though he's got work to do with his handle and shot creativity, McLemore's high-flying athleticism and lights-out jumper are NBA-ready weapons. There's no reason he can't average over double figures as a rookie.
First Team: Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
Points per game: 13.8
Rebounds per game: 7.6
Assists per game: 2.0
Field-goal percentage: .521
Three-point percentage: .240
I'm operating under the belief that the Bobcats' signing of Al Jefferson will be a blessing in disguise for Cody Zeller.
The top-testing athlete amongst the big men at the combine, Zeller will get moved to the 4 in Charlotte, where his size and skills will be tough to match up with. He showed off his soft touch from outside during summer ball, which just opens up his face-up game in a stretch role.
And while he struggled at times with interior physicality at Indiana, the Bobcats will leave that role up to Jefferson. Zeller's game translates well to the NBA 4 position, assuming his jumper turns out to be an offensive weapon.
He should be ready to go from day one and help Charlotte push for the playoffs.
First Team: Trey Burke, Utah Jazz
Points per game: 13.6
Rebounds per game: 3.3
Assists per game: 6.5
Field-goal percentage: .412
Three-point percentage: .340
Despite a dreadful summer league showing, I'm sticking with Trey Burke as an All-Rookie First Team guard.
The show is his to run in Utah, and unlike Michael Carter-Williams, Burke has some strong finishers like Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors around him.
He also comes in with a refined perimeter game, where he can pull up or step back and knock down jumpers.
Burke is likely to struggle most finishing in traffic, where the big men down low are a lot less forgiving in the pros. He'll need to find his floater and develop better touch in the paint, but there's just too much opportunity for Burke in 2013-14. He should put up enough stats as a rookie to earn a spot on the first team.
Second Team: C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
Points per game: 10.8
Rebounds per game: 2.2
Assists per game: 3.6
Field-goal percentage: .415
Three-point percentage: .366
C.J. McCollum's chances at All-Rookie First Team took a hit when the Blazers signed Mo Williams, but it shouldn't keep him off the floor. Portland's biggest weakness last season was its bench, and it could use all the offensive firepower that McCollum packs.
His role will be to enter a game and put points on the board, which happens to be his core strength. McCollum can generate instant offense on and off the ball.
With Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Mo Williams cemented into the rotation, it's unclear how much McCollum will be used right away. But McCollum should put up numbers in whatever time he's given, as he's the most polished scorer in the rookie class.
Second Team: Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers
Points per game: 8.8
Rebounds per game: 5.3
Assists per game: .8
Field-goal percentage: .453
Three-point percentage: .308
Though you'd typically expect the No. 1 pick to earn a spot on the All-Rookie First Team, Anthony Bennett will have to overcome some obstacles that could delay his NBA impact. After undergoing surgery on his shoulder prior to the combine, Bennett missed summer league and his first chance to experience professional competition.
He'll also have to fight off veteran players for minutes. Bennett has Tristan Thompson, Earl Clark, Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller and Andrew Bynum all loaded into the frontcourt.
He's still likely to make electrifying open-floor plays and knock down spot-up jumpers. Personally, I think the Cavs should give him time at the 3, where his speed, explosiveness and strength could overwhelm.
But with win-now aspirations, the Cavs are likely to take it slow with their prized new rookie.
Second Team: Otto Porter, Washington Wizards
Points per game: 9.2
Rebounds per game: 4.8
Assists per game: 2.7
Field-goal percentage: .448
Three-point percentage: .335
Otto Porter should be a routine presence in Washington's lineup, just not in the box scores.
He's a shot-maker as opposed to a shot-creator, meaning if the ball doesn't find him in scoring position, he'll probably stay quiet. Porter only got in two full summer league games before straining his hamstring, but neither of them went very well.
He still offers the Wizards a useful package of skills and is a reliable option on the wing. Offensively, Porter is a threat in the open floor and disciplined half-court scorer. But inconsistent numbers could prevent him from making the first team.
Second Team: Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
Points per game: 11.6
Rebounds per game: 4.6
Assists per game: 7.7
Field-goal percentage: .368
Three-point percentage: .238
Michael Carter-Williams will be getting the majority of reps at point guard for a Philadelphia team in complete rebuilding mode.
Without many weapons around him, Carter-Williams should be expected to struggle with efficiency. He'll be forced into taking shots and creating plays that are tough to make, which should lead to low shooting percentages and a boatload of turnovers.
But he's still a tremendous athlete and offensive weapon, especially considering the size advantage he'll have at the point guard position. Carter-Williams should end up dropping plenty of dimes as a rookie, but inconsistency and inefficiency are likely to keep him from cracking that first team.
Second Team: Dennis Schroeder, Atlanta Hawks
Points per game: 8.5
Rebounds per game: 2.0
Assists per game: 4.3
Field-goal percentage: .432
Three-point percentage: .338
Dennis Schroeder looked sharp this summer, and even though he's slated for backup duties, he should still make an impact as a rookie.
Schroeder is a pass-first point guard who excels at running the pick-and-roll and breaking down the defense. He's got the size, quickness, speed and length to handle the position without any physical limitations. And with a promising jumper that continues to improve, it's only a matter of time before teams realize Atlanta has two stud point guards.
With Jeff Teague as the starter, Schroeder may not put up staggering statistics. But just like Eric Bledsoe did as a rookie, he'll make his presence felt in a limited, part-time role.