NBA Draft Rookie Review: Mid-Year Evaluations and Second-Half Projections Pt. 2

Kevin LeongContributor IIFebruary 2, 2011

The All-Star break marks the halfway point in the first year of the 2010 rookie class. Drafted to significantly impact their respective teams, most of these rookies have had a decent amount of time to show their ability, heart and determination.

Some guys have made the grade. Others have fallen flat.

Note: Ratings are given based on the rookies' performances within their given situations and allotted minutes. While some guys find themselves in worse situations than others, their ability to contribute to their teams despite their limited minutes and improvement throughout the first half of the season are taken into consideration.

This is by no means a rating of future potential, but of accumulated performances thus far.


10. Cole Aldrich, C, New Orleans Hornets (traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder)

Cole Aldrich's performance this season is hard to judge. There hasn't been much to go by.

Aldrich has played seven games in the NBA, started none of them, and only averaged about eight minutes an outing.

The biggest number that stands out, from what little we've seen from Cole Aldridge, is the 12 personal fouls he's amassed in the little time he's been on the court. Against the Philadelphia 76ers, Aldrich received four personal fouls in just nine minutes on the court.

For a guy that is trying to earn playing time, getting fouls is the quickest way back to the bench. Granted, there are times when a bench player is thrown into a game with the sole objective of fouling a particular player. However, this was not the case against the 76ers.

Aldrich's inability to stay on the court without fouling has been the dagger in his rookie season. As a result, he's spending his time with the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League. This is probably the best outcome for him though, giving him time to actually play some basketball, stay in shape, and sharpen his game for a hopeful NBA return.


Second-Half Projections

Barring an injury to Nenad Krstic, Serge Ibaka, or perhaps Nick Collison, I don't think we'll see Aldrich again this season.

Rating: D


12. Xavier Henry, SG, Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies' dissatisfaction with OJ Mayo's performance after the first month or so in the season opened up the doors for Xavier Henry to amaze us with his talent. However, his performances were largely forgettable.

In his first NBA start against the Miami Heat, Henry went 1-9 from the field and 0-2 from the perimeter. In the 28 games he's played this season, he's only scored double-digit points five times.

Now, I know I'm being a little harsh on the guy; he's just a rookie, after all. Plus he's missed a bunch of time due to an ankle injury back in December.

But wasn't this a guy who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school? Didn't he score 27 points in his first game at Kansas? Didn't he leave college after his freshman year because everyone thought he was NBA material?

That's not to say he has shown to be less than "NBA material," but that hype that followed him into Kansas certainly hasn't carried over into this NBA season. He's a young kid, and I have no doubt that at some point he will have a decent career. I just think a few more years in college wouldn't have hurt. So far Henry's been mediocre at best, and has yet to gain full confidence from the fans or coach Lionel Hollins.


Second-Half Projections

Henry's time off the court has hurt his chances of getting more playing time in the future. While he's been gone, Memphis has gone with Sam Young and Tony Allen at shooting guard, with OJ Mayo backing them up. Though OJ Mayo is out for 10 games after testing positive for a banned substance, Henry will have a difficult time working his way back into the rotation and will need to be absolutely stellar to earn serious playing time.

Rating: C-


13. Ed Davis, PF, Toronto Raptors

While it's been no secret that Toronto has been having an absolutely horrible season, Ed Davis has quietly been putting together a solid rookie year.

Averaging six points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks a game, Davis' stats don't look particularly impressive. However, he's shown to be a smart shooter, hitting 56.6 percent of his shots from the field. He also is an aggressive rebounder, with 13 games of three or more offensive boards.

Though he may get a lot of fouls for the number of minutes he plays, unlike Aldrich, Davis' tough, physical defense accounts for most of those personal fouls. And that's ultimately what coaches want to see out of their young players.

The consistency in the number of minutes he plays on a nightly basis shows how integral Davis is to the Raptors' struggling lineup. And while I wouldn't pick him up in fantasy any time soon, I would not be surprised if he's a third or fourth round pick in the future.

I guess we have Reggie Evans' broken foot to thank.


Second-Half Projections

I think we'll see Davis produce more of the same. While I've been impressed with his play so far this year, Amir Johnson is clearly the better power forward. Johnson's offense is much more developed than Davis', with his ability to create his own shot and get to the line (and hit his free throws).

Rating: B


14. Patrick Patterson, PF, Houston Rockets

Patterson began the season in the D-League before getting called up with the Rockets. And while his time's been inconsistent, Patterson has still managed to shoot 61.9 percent from the field, showing he still has the sweet touch.

On top of being a smart shooter, Patterson doesn't turn pick up many fouls a game, and his turnovers are practically non-existent. It's always great to see a guy who can minimize the things that hurt the team and maximize the things that help.

Recently moving ahead of Jordan Hill in the Rockets' lineup, Patterson, with his hard play and effort, is being noticed. His numbers may not be anything impressive, but the box score is only part of the story.

Patterson's defense has been the key. Rick Adelman said recently, "He really knows how to play defensively in a team concept...For a young guy, he picks things up very quickly. He's always in the right spot."

You can't hope to hear much more praise from your head coach. And if your coach loves the progress and contributions you make to the team, who am I to disagree?


Second-Half Projections

Patterson's in a tough spot, stuck behind Luis Scola, the Rockets' most consistent player in the last few years. As a result, he isn't likely to get a significant increase in playing time anytime soon. At least his lack of playing time isn't due to his inability to perform. If anything, Patterson looks to be a bright spot in the Rockets future.

Rating: B


15. Larry Sanders, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks

I'd love to be able to say that Larry Sanders is absolutely dominating the NBA. I've got his rookie autograph card for crying out loud. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.

Sanders is averaging a measly 4.2 points and three rebounds a game. His minutes have been incredibly inconsistent, but I think it's due to a lack of consistent production, and not the other way around.

In 33 games, Sanders has only scored double-digit points five times. He's only shot 41 percent from the field. His best game came back in December, in which he scored 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked eight shots against the Nuggets.

Sanders is so unpredictable that I can't even tell when he's going to play. Some nights he plays twenty minutes, some nights he doesn't get off the bench. Lately, however, it seems that coach Scott Skiles has lost faith in Sanders' play and his minutes have steadily declined.

He'll really have to step up his game to a remarkable level if he hopes to see any increase in minutes in the future. I hope he does it. I need that card to be worth something.


Second-Half Projections

Even if Sanders slightly improves his game, he'll still be stuck behind Andrew Bogut at center. Bogut's having an absolutely monster year, so Sanders won't be taking that starting spot from him any time soon. However, Bogut is also notoriously injury-prone, so Sanders better be prepared if he ever gets another opportunity to start.

Rating: D+


16. Luke Babbitt, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (traded to Portland the Trail Blazers

Babbitt is another guy whose rookie year is extremely difficult to judge. Like Cole Aldrich, he's done very little to go by.

He's only played in 14 games this year, despite spending most of his rookie season in the league. He's only averaged five minutes, thirty seconds an outing, with 1.4 points and 0.9 rebounds.

Since there isn't much to say about his NBA career thus far, I wanted to take a look at some of the decisions he's made in the past.

Babbit was heavily recruited out of high school by colleges like Ohio State, UCLA, and Gonzaga. However, he eventually chose to attend the University of Reno-Nevada. After a successful sophomore season in which he averaged 21.9 points per game, Babbitt declared for the NBA draft.

While I completely understand turning down the big schools for guaranteed playing time at a smaller college, I think Babbitt let his small successes get the best of him. Would playing another year or two of college basketball really have hurt his stock? Why not continue to dominate in the Western Atlantic Conference and improve your game, or transfer to a bigger school to play on a bigger stage?

Instead, Babbitt finds himself warming the Trail Blazers' bench. Sure, he's getting paid good money to do so, but if he had become a better player before making the move, there's no doubt in my mind he would've made more. I mean it's nice to be the 16th overall pick, but why not shoot higher?

The fact that he isn't even worth putting in for five minutes every game on an injury-depleted team really says a lot about his game thus far.


Second-Half Projections

Babbitt's play in the NBA really doesn't impress me. Sure, he averaged 18-plus points in the D-League; if you can't keep it up in the big league, it doesn't mean scratch. I expect the same 5-minutes-every-fifth-game out of Babbitt. Until he gains Nate McMillan's trust, that's really all he's worth.

Rating: F+


17. Kevin Seraphin, PF/C, Chicago Bulls (traded to the Washington Wizards)

As the Wizards' woes continue, Kevin Seraphin hasn't done much better. Averaging just 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in a little over nine minutes a game, Seraphin hasn't been very impressive in his rookie season.

He's been hesitant to shoot the ball, inaccurate when he has, and doesn't consistently rebound the ball in the minutes he's given. Overall, Seraphin has done little to justify the amount of time he's received. Were the Wizards' lineup even just a little big deeper, he would quickly find himself in the D-League.


Second-Half Projections

As you can tell, I'm not big on Seraphin. His playing time is more consistent as of late, however, and if he can start doing something with it, his production will increase, for whatever that's worth. I know that's a little redundant, but I don't know what else to say.   

Rating: F


18. Eric Bledsoe, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to the Los Angeles Clippers)

I was excited when the Clippers got Bledsoe from the Thunder. Not that I'm necessarily a huge Clippers fan, or anything. Just the idea of him playing next to Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin, and replacing an aging, ineffective Baron Davis, really peaked my interest.

While Bledsoe started the season coming off the bench, Baron Davis' inevitable injury just a few games into the season finally gave fans the opportunity to see the potential lineup of the future.

And while the Clippers still lost many games, as they always seem to do, Bledsoe played exceptionally well for a young point guard in a competitive league.

Sure, his shot was a bit on and off—and still is midway through the season—but Bledsoe's ability to find his teammates for easy buckets was what impressed me the most. There were many easy feeds to Griffin, open shots for Gordon, and even fellow rookie Al-Farouq Aminu occasionally got some of the action.

Now that Davis has returned and is actually playing quite well since being booed by Clipper-owner Donald Sterling, Bledsoe's minutes have dropped considerably. However, while he may only average around 18 minutes a game now, he still manages to find his teammates and dish out assists.

Two things Bledsoe needs to improve are his shooting and his decision-making. He's only shooting a weak 40.6 percent from the field, and even though I praised his passing, his tendency to turn the ball over four or five times a game as a starter is concerning.

Of course, it's all part of the learning process for a guy who played only one year of college ball, as he tries to figure out what he can and cannot get away with in the NBA. Bledsoe looks to have a solid career ahead of him, especially if he can sort through his shooting woes.


Second-Half Projections

I'll be honest, I think Baron Davis is going to get hurt again. if there's anything consistent about Davis, it's that he gets hurt often. With that in mind, I think by the end of the year Bledsoe will be averaging 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. With the production will also come the turnovers, however, so the Clippers will really have to work with him on that.  

Rating B+


19. Avery Bradley, SG, Boston Celtics

Bradley started the season off on the wrong foot (pun semi-intended), requiring ankle surgery right shortly after signing with the Celtics. He missed a considerable amount of time, including summer league, missing out on valuable time to adjust to the NBA.  

As a result Bradley played just 14 games in the season, despite being on the roster until January 14. In fact at the time the Celtics were battling injuries and were likely going to be unable to dress 12 men on the roster. Yet they sent Bradley down so he could get playing time.

I think this showed a lot about Bradley's underdeveloped play thus far. Like Luke Babbitt, Bradley apparently does not justify even five minutes a game, and the Celtic's bench is too deep for him anyway.


Second-Half Projections

I think we've seen the last of Bradley this season. His biggest opportunity to play was in the beginning of the year, and with the Celtics buckling down for the postseason, it just wouldn't be appropriate to bring in such a large question mark.

Rating: F


20. James Anderson, SG, San Antonio Spurs

Anderson was widely regarded as one of the best shooting guards in this year's draft, but his season was cut somewhat short by a stress fracture in his foot just six games into his rookie year.  

After rehabbing he was sent to the D-League to get back into shape, and was finally recalled January 29th.

While it it would be somewhat impractical for me to really try to rate his performance with so little to go by (because of injury), I'm going to do so anyway. I've got only good things to say, so I'm sure he wouldn't mind.

For the most part, Anderson lived up to his hype in his first six games, shooting the ball fairly well in his first few games. He averaged a little over six points a game in just over 15 minutes. However, the most impressive part was his 50 percent shooting from the perimeter, hitting 10-20 shots from the three.

It's likely he'll be sent back down with Gary Neal coming back off injury, but the fact that Popovich was willing to throw him into the game for a few minutes is a great sign.


Second-Half Projections

It's too difficult to know what will go on with Anderson's situation. He played well at the start of the season, so it wouldn't be unheard of to see him stay. However, if he does get sent back down, I don't think it's very likely he'll be called up again this year. The Spurs need a consistent roster in preparation for the playoffs, and it wouldn't be a great idea to sacrifice a roster spot on a gamble.

Rating: C+



Look for mid-year evaluations for draft numbers 21-30 sometime next week.

For last week's review (No.'s 1-10), click here.

For more of my work, click here.


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