It's not always easy making the transition into the NBA out of college, but some young players seem to have a feel for the pro game almost immediately.
With the league's regular season approaching, the preseason has provided us with a glimpse into what the future holds. Some players have emerged as rising stars, while others clearly have some work to do before they're ready to contribute meaningful minutes.
Here are a few young players who are earning the trust of their coaches by performing well on the court. These players will certainly become important for their teams this year.
Victor Oladipo, G, Orlando Magic
Coming out of Indiana, Oladipo was highly prized by scouts for his all-around abilities.
Not many expected him to play point guard at the next level, however. But that's exactly what we've seen from Orlando's rookie at times this year, and the Magic will continue to use him in this capacity, as alluded to by Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld:
On Victor Oladipo... "He's a guard... He'll play guard for us." Magic refused to label him a point guard or shooting guard— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) September 30, 2013
No matter if he's running point or playing off the ball, Oladipo has shined this preseason. He's averaging 13.2 points, six rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
The athletic guard is a nightmare matchup on both ends of the court. He instantly makes Orlando better, and he's the early favorite to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.
Ben McLemore, G, Sacramento Kings
Pure scorers are hard to come by, which is why the Sacramento Kings jumped all over Ben McLemore in the draft earlier this year.
The young man out of Kansas hasn't disappointed.
He went off for 23 points against Portland in his last start, hitting 10 of his 16 attempts. So far, in five preseason games, McLemore has averaged 12.6 points per game.
Tomb Ziller of Sactown Royalty wasn't shy about his love for McLemore's per-minute productivity after his big game against the Blazers:
Ben McLemore in five preseason games: 19 points per 36 minutes on .578 eFG. <3— Tomb Ziller (@teamziller) October 21, 2013
The future is bright for McLemore and the Kings.
Cody Zeller, C, Charlotte Bobcats
Zeller isn't as flashy on offense as McLemore or Oladipo, but he is technically sound and diverse for a big man, and he's starting to get into a groove for the Bobcats.
After struggling in his third game of the preseason, Zeller has responded with three straight strong performances. In his last five games, he's averaging eight points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, and he's coming off his first double-digit-rebounding performance of the season.
Given Zeller's versatile skill set, he appears to be ready to become a 20-10 guy for the Bobcats sooner rather than later.
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