10 NBA Rookies Making a Difference from Day One
Some NBA players will tell you how tough it is to adjust to the NBA. Other players will tell you it was a fairly smooth transition.
The difference between the two usually has to do with how successful players are as rookies.
In the 2008-09 season the rookies got off to a hot start and many finished strong. Here are 10 rookies who should have the same impact.
1. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
The Kings want Evans to be the man and that means they're going to let him develop on the court. As one of the bigger point guards in the NBA Evans won't have trouble getting his shots whether its on a crafty lay-in or a pull-up jumper.
Aside from lacking elite athleticism, the main knock on Evans entering the NBA is that he lacks true point guard skills. Through Summer League and the pre-season those concerns have been affirmed but Evans does have one of the NBA's best shooters to defer to in Kevin Martin.
In a point guard heavy draft the Kings had the first crack at the position group and Evans is the leader for the Rookie of the Year award.
2. Blake Griffin, Los Angles Clippers
Even though he is a rookie, Griffin is one of the most talented players in the NBA. If you're looking for a mismatch there is a good chance Griffin has it—he can face-up and dribble around 4's and post-up the 3's.
The Clippers do need Griffin but it looks like they will start him on the bench behind a frontcourt trio of Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, and Al Thornton. That's a frontcourt that missed 82 games last year, a season's worth.
3. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
If Harden wasn't playing along side Kevin Durant he would be the clear-cut favorite for the Rookie of the Year Award.
With long arms and a deceptive athleticism the former Sun Devil attacks the rim and he is a very good defender for a rookie.
OKC's coach Scott Brooks his youth make strides in their progression last season and I expect him to do the same with Harden.
4. DeJuan Blair, San Antonio Spurs
In what was considered to be a weak draft year by top analysts, how does the Big East Player of the Year slip to the 37th overall pick?
That is a question that is going to keep Blair motivated for years. The concerns about Blair's health and conditioning weren't enough to keep the Spurs from investing a second pick, and in a tough economy the move is looking like pure gold.
Don't expect Blair to register 30 minutes or average a double-double, but he will be one of the NBA's most productive players per minute. With his long arms and hustle Blair is an aggressive rebounder, especially on offense, and can score on bigger opponents routinely.
When the Spurs need a jolt off the bench Blair will be their man.
5. Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets
For four years at Louisville I have said Williams' game is made for the NBA and finally we will get to see him in open-court action.
The eighth pick in the draft may never develop into a 20 PPG scorer but he will generate some triple-doubles, maybe even as a rookie.
Williams is an elite athlete, devastating off the break. He will be able to play the point forward position in combination with Devin Harris, filling some of the play making void left by Vince Carter.
6. Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets
The Rockets will be hurting for offensive production this season and the silky-smooth shooting Budinger is ready to step-up and deliver.
In five games of Summer League action the former Arizona Wildcat averaged 17.8 PPG, shooting 68.1 percent from the field, 72.7 percent from three, and 94.4 percent from the stripe.
The former high school volleyball standout glides up the field and he can sky above the hoop with the best of them. The questions about his intensity and commitment should be answered quickly.
7. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
While the drafting of Jennings was enough to run Ramon Sessions out of town starting point guard Luke Ridnour remains, and he is the only thing sitting between the former prep-to-Euro and a legitimate shot at the Rookie of the Year Award.
With elite speed and quickness Jennings will be tough to stop off the bench. He carries a better than advertised scoring ability and is dedicated to creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.
The Bucks are still counting on some injury prone vets, but if/when those guys go down the youth revolution in Milwaukee will be ready.
8. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
Air Canada is back but this time it comes in the form of a 20 year old kid from Compton, CA. DeRozan is an extreme competitor and he plays smart basketball, something not usually associated with a young flyer.
Behind Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu don't expect the Raptors to be running the offense through DeRozan but that will allow him to casually blend in, only to explode on opponents.
He is still developing a three point shot but once that comes DeRozan will be one of the most dangerous inside-out guards in the NBA.
9. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves
In one of the most interesting moves in NBA history the Timberwolves spent three first round picks on point guards. They traded one to Denver (TY Lawson), one is staying overseas (Ricky Rubio), and Flynn will be seen in Minnesota.
The show won't be Flynn's completely though, Minnesota did bring in Ramon Sessions, but the two could even co-exists on the court together. That’s right Flynn believes he can play off the ball, and if Nate Robinson can do it, why can't Flynn and his 40-inch vertical?
If the T-Wolves are able to keep games close they will be counting on the heart and determination of Flynn to earn them some tough victories.
10. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
After three seasons and back-to-back playoff appearances the Sixers said goodbye to Andre Miller, affirming that their draft pick out of UCLA is the team's point guard of the future.
Holiday isn't expected to immediately step-in as the starter, that will be Lou Williams' job, but he will be expected to contribute and he may be the starter by the midway point.
At times Holiday got lost in the pack during pre-draft festivities but he has good size, is a strong defender, and his deep shot has looked better than expected in pre-season.
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