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NBA: 10 Bold Predictions for the 2008-09 Rookies

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NBA: 10 Bold Predictions for the 2008-09 Rookies

You've seen my list of top rookies for the 2008-09 season.

It's still very early to determine who'll be playing with who next season, what with potential injuries and moves on the free agent market.

However, the following are my top 10 bold predictions for the 2008 NBA rookie class:

 

10. Kevin Love will have a rookie campaign similar to that of Al Horford's in 2007-08.

Love will be a better scorer than Horford was in his rookie campaign, and he'll come close to averaging a double-double for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kevin McHale wanted Love from the minute he declared for the draft, so he'll see enough playing time to have a shot at this.

 

9. While Darrell Arthur will have a solid impact as a rookie for Memphis, Marc Gasol will be the team's best big man.

He's a bit under the radar since he was drafted in 2007, but the younger Gasol brother is ready to make the transition to the NBA. He's been in Spain the last two years fine-tuning his game, and his impact should be felt as a rookie in the league.

 

8. Roy Hibbert will average more rebounds as a Pacer rookie than he did as a Georgetown senior.

Hibbert had just five games of 10+ rebounds as a senior for the Hoyas, and I expect him to get enough playing time as a rookie to surpass that. He averaged 6.4 boards as a college senior, so this prediction could be a stretch. But, it is possible.

 

7. Sean Singletary will make the Kings' roster, and will make at least one start as a rookie.

One start doesn't seem like much of a prediction—but for a guy that most didn't expect to get drafted, it's a solid guess. Sacramento is thin at point guard—to say the least—and the team's starter from a year ago may be on his way to a new team via free agency.

 

6. The Charlotte Bobcats had two top-twenty picks in the draft, but Kyle Weaver, the 38th pick, will be the most productive rookie.

DJ Augustin definitely has first-round talent, but ninth overall seems a bit high. Raymond Felton could end up in a new city, allowing time for Augustin to play, but I still think Weaver will be more productive right away. Alexis Ajinca, the 20th pick, is a project for the future.

 

5. Sonics guard Russell Westbrook will be more productive as a rookie than much more publicized Grizzlies guard OJ Mayo.

Both Seattle and Memphis were awful last season, finishing last and next-to-last, respectively. However, Westbrook should see more playing time than Mayo as a rookie, as he plays on a team that lacks a productive backcourt. Westbrook is also a much better defender right now, so his season stats will be superior to Mayo's.

 

4. Derrick Rose was the first overall pick of the draft, but he will not finish in the top three in Rookie of the Year voting.

Rose will see a lot of time as a rookie, but as long as Kirk Hinrich is a Bull, he won't be the starter. Hinrich could end up with a different team before the season begins, though, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Oh, and here are three other rookies I think will finish ahead of Rose in the voting.

 

3. Eric Gordon will start as a combo guard, and the Clippers will make a very strong push for the playoffs.

Despite a 23-59 season last year, the Clippers will be poised to make a legitimate run at the playoffs. Shaun Livingston may miraculously see time at the point guard position this season, with Chris Kaman and Elton Brand (if he doesn't switch teams) in the post. Al Thornton was very strong as a rookie last year, so Los Angeles has a lot of options offensively.

 

2. Michael Beasley will win Rookie of the Year honors by more votes than Kevin Durant did last season.

Sonics guard/forward Kevin Durant won the award last year by 155 points over Hawks forward Al Horford. It is my belief that Beasley will be in a rookie league of his own during the 2008-09 season, and will undoubtedly take the award.

 

1. Three Portland Trail Blazers rookies will finish in the top ten for Rookie of the Year, but only one will have been drafted in 2008.

Jerryd Bayless has an outside shot at starting a few games for Portland, but he'll be the first scoring option off the bench. Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez were both drafted in 2007, but neither played in an NBA game (Oden had knee injuries and Fernandez stayed overseas). Oden will lead all rookies in blocked shots, and Fernandez will be an excellent complement to Brandon Roy.

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