Early 2013 NBA Rookie Awards Predictions

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterSeptember 17, 2013

Early 2013 NBA Rookie Awards Predictions

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    While the NBA doesn't come up with individual rookie awards, we at Bleacher Report find it necessary.

    We're handing out nine different awards this year honoring the 2013-14 rookie class. The criteria for each award is based on projected stats, minutes and the impact they're expected to make. 

    With dozens of first-round prospects slated for the bench or D-League assignments, only 10-or-so rookies were in contention for each award. 

     

     

     

NBA Rookie of the Year: Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

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    He's just too hard to bet against.

    Victor Oladipo has a lot going for him as the favorite for Rookie of the Year. For starters, he's NBA-ready. Oladipo should be able to impact games with or without the ball in his hands.

    He tore up summer league with averages of 19 points and five assists per game, and those threes just kept on falling. 

    Considering that Orlando is trying to convert Oladipo into a point guard, it's pretty clear they'll be looking to get the ball in his hands. Whether he's playing alongside Arron Afflalo or behind him, Oladipo should see plenty of minutes his rookie season.

    I'm giving Oladipo the edge over Ben McLemore with the X-factor being consistency. Oladipo is a better bet for routine results, while McLemore has the tendency to cool off.

    I'm also taking Oladipo over Kelly Olynyk, who struggles on the glass and protecting the rim.

    Oladipo is a guaranteed two-way contributor and one that's likely to show up on a regular basis. He'll win the award based on impact, not statistics. 

Scoring King: Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

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    The rookies who score the most points are the ones who can get themselves easy buckets. And nobody gets themselves easier ones than Ben McLemore. 

    McLemore's easy buckets come from the outside and above the rim. He's an elite shooter—any time he's got room to release on the perimeter, it's a good look for McLemore. And with top-flight athleticism, he finishes over defenders when given room to attack the rim. 

    You can already mark him down for a couple of threes and dunks per game. But based on what we saw in summer league, McLemore has worked hard on his one-on-one game. He was separating on the perimeter and creating offense for himself in the half court. 

    He'll step in immediately as Sacramento's starting shooting guard, alongside a point guard who averaged nine assists per game last year. 

    With incredible shot-making ability, elite athleticism and minutes available in Sacramento, McLemore should finish as the rookie-scoring king. 

    Call me optimistic or a believer, but I've got him averaging roughly 14 points per game in 2013-14. 

     

Master Facilitator: Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Michael Carter-Williams finished third in the country in assists last season. And barring a major upset, he'll finish first amongst rookies in 2013-14.

    He's likely to have the ball in his hands more than any other rookie in the class. With Darius Morris as the only realistic backup option (assuming he makes the team), Carter-Williams should be averaging 30-plus minutes as the team's primary ball-handler. 

    His strengths center around his ability to break down defenses and create plays in the lane. And as a 6'6'' pure point guard with outstanding athleticism, the physical transition shouldn't be overwhelming. 

    Carter-Williams has a great feel for setting the table for teammates. He knows how to pick up the easy assist, whether it's freeing up a shooter with a dribble handoff or hitting a trailer for a jumper in transition. 

    I've got Carter-Williams edging out Trey Burke as the top facilitating rookie based on assists per game. I've also got him finishing top-five in the league in turnovers, but we'll save that award for another ceremony. 

Rebounding Champ: Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Well isn't this ironic. 

    After experiencing two years of criticism surrounding his toughness on the boards and interior, Cody Zeller is close to a lock for the rookie rebounding crown. 

    He raised his average from 6.6 boards as a freshman to eight per game as a sophomore. Zeller looked awfully capable and active during summer league when he averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game. 

    A 7'0'' athlete like Zeller is just bound to pick up a few easy tip-ins at the rim. Even if it's not a strength, rebounds are still likely to find him.

    There's no reason he shouldn't be averaging close to 30 minutes considering only Josh McRoberts and Anthony Tolliver sit behind him on the depth chart. 

    With size, minutes and very little competition, it's safe to predict that Zeller finishes the year as the top rebounder in the class. 

     

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

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    Without any real shot-blockers to contend with (assuming Nerlens Noel doesn't get much burn this year), Victor Oladipo should finish as the top defensive rookie. 

    He's a guy who makes things happen by staying active. Oladipo has exceptionally quick feet, along with a motor that never seems to die. 

    Even if he's not picking up steals, the pressure he puts on opponents helps create havoc and turnovers.

    He should still be good for a few steals a game, but it's Oladipo's presence on defense that wins him this award. 

     

     

YouTube Phenom: Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

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    Ben McLemore and his 42'' max vertical will be all over highlights and YouTube clips.

    With momentum, he's capable of launching himself at the rim like he's strapped with a jet pack on his back. He's got that upper-body strength and lower-body spring to finish above traffic or right through it.

    McLemore is a good bet for at least one open-floor flush a game, while remaining a constant threat for a backdoor alley-oop.

    He's a highlight waiting to happen, whether he remains consistent as a rookie or not. 

    McLemore could make the Kings a good watch on NBA League Pass. 

     

Surprise Impact Rookie: Archie Goodwin, Phoenix Suns

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    After looking like a potential top-10 pick early last year, Archie Goodwin's stock fell dramatically. He was passed on 28 times in the draft before landing in Phoenix's lap.

    And a lot of those teams who passed will be sorry. 

    Goodwin looked extra motivated and ready to roll during summer league. He's an electric athlete and violent attacker with size for either guard position. 

    Goodwin has shown a promising mid-range game with the stop-and-pop, a weapon he'll need to come through for him at the NBA level. 

    With Phoenix playing for lottery position once again, expect the coaching staff to throw Goodwin right into the fire. 

    He's a sleeper to finish the year as a top-10 rookie and the steal of last year's draft. 

Playoff-Impact Rookie: Tony Snell, Chicago Bulls

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    There won't be too many rookies with roles on NBA playoff teams.

    But the Bulls lack depth at the wing, with only Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich as the only backup options. Tony Snell should get an opportunity to prove himself at some point during the year. 

    His strengths are ideal for coach Tom Thibodeau's system. He's got a deadly stroke from downtown, along with a 7'0'' wingspan and excellent defensive tools. 

    Snell's responsibilities won't include anything more than spot-up shooting, open-floor finishing and defending the perimeter. But in a limited role, he could be a factor off the bench for Chicago in the playoffs. 

Flops of the Year: Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Muhammad

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    There's just no way Anthony Bennett lives up to No. 1-overall hype—not after missing all of summer league and most of the offseason following shoulder surgery. And not when Cleveland has a crowded frontcourt consisting of Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Andrew Bynum and Tyler Zeller. 

    The Cavaliers will be entering a win-now year with the goal of reaching the playoffs. Coach Mike Brown won't feel obligated to play his rookie if he's struggling to produce or slow to get going. 

    Bennett also doesn't project too favorably on defense, given the size disadvantage he'll be at as a 4. And offensively, his strength won't be the weapon it was when he used it at UNLV.

    I'd give Bennett a year before expecting much, especially considering Cleveland's deep frontcourt rotation.

    Shabazz Muhammad on the other hand is another story. Not only should he have a quiet rookie year, but Muhammad's weaknesses could hold him back as a long-term player.  

    He was brutal at times during summer league. He doesn't defend or rebound, nor can he create for others, illustrated by his .8 assist-per-game average at UCLA. 

    Muhammad appears to be a one-dimensional scorer with size and athletic limitations for a wing. 

    It could be a long time before he cracks an NBA rotation.