NBA Preseason 2013: Predicting Rookies Who Will Bring Early Success into Season

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IOctober 23, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 22: Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder battles for position with Miles Plumlee #22 of the Phoenix Suns on October 22, 2013 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The preseason is the perfect time for rookies to make a name for themselves in the hopes of landing a significant role with their respective team.

The Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings are in rebuilding mode and will need young players to develop in order to take a step forward this season. Early on, Victor Oladipo of the Magic and Ben McLemore of the Kings are both looking like immediate-impact players.

On the flip side, the Oklahoma City Thunder are ready to compete this season and need some reliable big men, with the failures of Kendrick Perkins being a reality in years past. While he does have some ways to go, rookie center Steven Adams may end up giving Perkins a run for his money.

Let's take a closer look at what exactly is creating hype around these three rookies.


Victor Oladipo, Shooting Guard, Orlando Magic

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For starters, Oladipo is leading all rookies in the preseason in points per game (14.4), he is second in steals per game (1.6) and is tied for fourth in assists (five) and rebounds (six).

His best scoring performances came against the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies; he scored 22 points apiece in those games. Oladipo has also hit double figures in rebounding once and has had no less than three assists in each of his performances.

Perimeter shooting is the lone concern for Oladipo at this point. He's shooting 28 percent from beyond the arc and 43 percent overall, but his accuracy in that department is something Oladipo will improve on as his career moves along.

Oladipo's all-around skills ensure that he will have a major impact on the Magic this season in some way, shape or form, as Orlando has little talent on its roster aside from the rookie. That makes his role on this team that much more vital.


Steven Adams, Center, Oklahoma City Thunder

Adams has done nothing but impressed during the preseason. He leads all rookies in rebounds per game (8.2), and more importantly, he's first in offensive rebounds per game (four). His one block per contest ranks tied for second.

A head-turning performance came against Enes Kanter and the Utah Jazz on Oct. 20. In 18 minutes of competition between the two, it was Adams who came out smelling like a rose after scoring four points and grabbing seven boards (three offensive) when being paired against Kanter.

Meanwhile, Kanter made just one of his five shot attempts and compiled a lone rebound for his efforts.

In five exhibition games, Adams is averaging an astounding 13.6 boards per 36 minutes.

In recent years, the Thunder have been let down by the lack of production from center Kendrick Perkins. Considering it's likely that will continue, Adams' numbers will be too hard for head coach Scott Brooks to ignore, and as long as he keeps developing, Adams should see significant time on the floor in 2013-14.


Ben McLemore, Shooting Guard, Sacramento Kings

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McLemore is another rookie who is flashing some multi-faceted abilities this preseason.

The Kings guard is third in scoring (12.6 points per game), and he's shooting nearly 41 percent from three-point range with a 49 percent success rate from the field overall.

In his last game against the Portland Trail Blazers, McLemore dropped 23 points in 30 minutes on 10-of-16 shooting, and he added four rebounds as well.

Shooting clearly isn't an issue for the 20-year-old, or at least not his biggest one. As long as McLemore can shoot close to the percentage he's seeing now, the rookie should be a potent scorer in this league for years to come.

On top of that, the Kings really don't have much to work with on offense this season, and McLemore could be a major player for this team early and often. It won't hurt to have DeMarcus Cousins drawing extra attention down low, either.