Despite what some called a weak draft class going into the year, last season produced one of the best crops of NBA rookies in recent memory, including Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, James Harden, Terrence Williams, Ty Lawson and Darren Collison, among others.
All that, and Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio, the No. 1 and No. 5 overall picks respectively, didn’t even play a single minute.
Several rookies this season have already made quite the splash, both in real life and in fantasy basketball. So, let’s get right into it, shall we?
1. John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
2010 stats: 40 MPG, 19.4 PPG, 9.6 APG, 2.6 SPG, 3.2 RPG, 42.9% FG, 28.6% 3 PT
Wall instantly looked comfortable in an NBA uniform, and put up a spectacular 29-point, 13-assist, nine-steal effort in his home debut, an OT win over the 76ers.
Wall did have eight turnovers in that game, so there’s clearly plenty of room for the youngster to grow. However, early indications are that Wall is by far the best prospect of the ’10 draft class.
He’ll have some serious competition for Rookie of the Year, though, from a guy taken first overall in 2009.
Speaking of that fella…
2. Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers
2010 stats: 34.3 MPG, 18.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 50% FG
Griffin, still classified as a rookie after missing all of the ’09-’10 season with a knee injury, already looks like one of the scariest matchups for low post defenders in the league.
His combination of strength and athleticism makes him a nightmare around the rim, as he often bullies his defenders easily and scores without much opposition.
Griffin’s incredible vertical makes it easy for him to get rebounds, and he should be a decent shot-blocking presence once he dedicates himself more to that aspect of his game.
Barring injury, it seems as though the Clippers have their best big man prospect since Danny Manning.
3. DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento Kings
2010 stats: 22.4 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 41.1% FG
Cousins has been immediately thrust in as the Kings’ starting center due to the injury to Samuel Dalembert, and he’s responded well.
He’s a rare polished big man, meaning he can impact games now as he continues to grow as a player.
We’re used to thinking of young big men (Hasheem Thabeet, Ekpe Udoh) as raw talents, but he already has a very well-rounded offensive game.
Many assume that, if he can keep his head straight, he’s capable of becoming one of the most dominant centers in the game.
4. Derrick Favors, PF, New Jersey Nets
2010 stats: 22 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 62.2% FG
Favors is still fairly raw and will take his entire first year to really grow into his role, but his size and smooth ability around the basket will continue to allow him to be a decent impact player as a rookie.
Already notching his first career double-double in just his second game, Favors has displayed great ability in just the first few weeks of the 2010-11 NBA season, and could really come alive as his minutes and play gets more consistent.
5. Evan Turner, G/F, Philadelphia 76ers
2010 stats: 27.3 MPG, 9.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 47.5% FG
Turner hasn’t had the easiest of transitions from a silky smooth college game to what appears to be a work in progress skill set at the next level.
Turner’s excellent size and solid athleticism have allowed him to hit the boards and rack up some points, but even when getting major minutes, the star potential we all saw at Ohio State just hasn’t been shining as bright as some had hoped.
The talent and ability is there, but the production has yet to meet the lofty expectations.
6. Wesley Johnson, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
2010 stats: 27 MPG, 10.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 37% FG
Johnson’s length, athleticism and nice shooting range have landed him into the starting lineup of a struggling Minnesota club very early in his career. He clearly has the skills to produce at the next level, but he’s young and could use time to grow.
Being thrust into such a large row has helped display his great range and explosiveness, as seen by his 18-point (4-for-6 on three’s) outing two games ago, but his youth and inexperience was also exposed the following game, as he mustered just four points in 29 minutes of action.
He’ll have growing pains, especially on such a horrid team, but the offensive skills are most definitely there to be improve upon.
7. Eric Bledsoe, G, L.A. Clippers
2010 stats: 25.5 MPG, 8.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 53% FG, 57.1% 3 PT
A first glance at Bledsoe’s rookie stat line suggests he’s only average, but a closer look shows two things. First, he’s slightly playing up and over his draft position, and secondly, his averages simply don’t tell the story.
Bledsoe has stepped up in a big way in the past few games, taking over and manning the point for the Clippers while Baron Davis nurses an injury. With three straight games of 10+ points, along with 13 assists on November 5, Bledsoe is clearly showing he has the skills to at least earn the right to prove himself at the point in the NBA.
And with David lacking the appropriate health and conditioning to return as the starter, there’s no telling just how much time Bledsoe could have to prove his worth.
8. Landry Fields, G/F, New York Knicks
2010 stats: 25 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 55.6% FG, 46.2% 3 PT
Mike D’Antoni shocked everyone when he put a second round rookie draft pick in the starting lineup to start the year. Six games later, it’s very difficult to argue that it was the wrong move.
Fields isn’t an amazing athlete or ultra explosive, but he has a soft shooting stroke, goes after the boards and runs the floor extremely well. He’s the type of player that can grow in a high-octane offense, while also learning the ropes on both sides of the ball whilst playing.
Don’t expect his production or minutes to increase much throughout the season, as you’ll pretty much “get what you see” with Fields. But so far, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
9. Greg Monroe, F/C, Detroit Pistons
2010 stats: 18 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 34.5% FG
Monroe is really the next closest rookie with solid playing time, and he just hasn’t been consistent on either side of the floor. His averages aren’t bad when stretched out over a full game, but his shooting percentages and overall strength inside are holding him back a bit in his first season.
10. Xavier Henry, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
2010 stats: 15.1 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 41.2% FG
Henry rounds out the top 10 for this week’s edition, as he’s churning in solid offensive production. He’s really pretty one-dimensional at this point, but he has a very nice offensive game that has the potential to be great as he evolves his game.
He has just one assist on the season and isn’t great on the boards, so those continue to be two areas where he needs a lot of work in order for him to become more of a complete player.
Honorable Mentions: Al-Farouq Aminu, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, James Anderson
Taylor Smith contributed to this article.
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