Who to watch: NBA rookies | Basketball | CBC Sports

NBAWho to watch: NBA rookies

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012 | 03:13 PM

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Superstar players don't always go in the top three picks of the NBA draft.  Names like Kobe, Nash, and Wade, are prime examples of unexpected potential.  Every year there is a batch of rookies who shock the NBA world and lay their path to stardom.  Here's a list of players who could surprise in their rookie season.
Superstar players don't always go in the top three picks of the NBA draft.  Names like Kobe, Nash, and Wade, are prime examples of unexpected potential.  Every year there is a batch of rookies who shock the NBA world and lay their path to stardom.  Here's a list of players who could surprise in their rookie season.
 
jonas_valanciunas.jpgToronto Raptors - Jonas Valančiūnas - C - 6'11, 231 - 5th overall (2011 Draft)
 
The Raptors believe they have found their long term solution at centre.  Valančiūnas is long, gritty and spends the majority of his time in the paint.  His offensive game will be defined by his pick-and-roll play and offensive rebounds.  And considering he shoots almost 80% from the free throw line, Valančiūnas should immediately contribute in the NBA.  If he can keep his fouls under control, he'll be a key cog in the Raptors' playoff hopes. 



damien_lillard.jpgPortland Trailblazers - Damian Lillard - PG  - 6'3, 195 - 6th overall
 
At 22, Lillard is a seasoned player with four years of college under his belt.  He's a dynamic scorer, dropping 24.5 points per game for Weber St. last year.  With no other alternative at the point, he'll be handed the reins to the team right away.  As a natural shooter with guaranteed minutes, Lillard should explode onto the NBA scene.  Expect him to be in contention for Rookie of the Year.

 
meyers_leonard.jpgPortland Trailblazers- Meyers Leonard - C - 7'1, 245 - 11th overall
 
A super athletic 7 footer with a ridiculously high ceiling.  Think Javale McGee, but with the smarts to actually take advantage of his natural gifts. With journeyman Dan Gadzuric as the only other centre on the roster, Leonard should get plenty of playing time.



 

royce_white.jpgHouston Rockets - Royce White - F  - 6'8, 260 - 16th overall
 
Royce White is unique.  At 6'8, his ball handling, playmaking, and low post offence makes him a complete matchup nightmare.  However, questions about his motor, conditioning, and highly publicized anxiety disorder caused many teams to take pass until the Rockets took a leap of faith. If White can put it all together (or just show up to training camp), he'll be a tough player to stop.


andrew_nicholson.jpgOrlando Magic - Andrew Nicholson  - PF/C - 6'9, 250 - 19th overall
 
Nicholson is a Canadian from Mississauga, Ontario. He was included in this list because he provides a rare commodity in the NBA - low post scoring.  He has a knack for scoring with his back to the basket and possesses a soft touch.  He may find himself overmatched at the NBA level, or might just be the next Al Jefferson.


 
perry_jones.jpgOklahoma Thunder - Perry Jones - F - 6'11, 235 - 28th overall
 
When you're a good team, you can make a high risk pick late in the first round.  The Thunder nabbed a doozy.  At one point, Jones was considered a top 10 pick, but knee problems caused concern and he slid him all the way down to 28th. A silky smooth player with great natural defensive tools, Jones is an exciting talent with Lamar Odom-esque potential.



marquis_teague.jpgChicago Bulls - Marquis Teague - PG - 6'2, 190 - 29th overall 
 
Amongst all of the hoopla around the diverse Kentucky Wildcats, most people forgot that freshman Marquis Teague, ran the point for the championship team. He could not have landed in a better position than with the Bulls.  Derrick Rose will miss a good chunk of the season and plenty of minutes will be available.  Teague measured off the charts at the combine and should make an immediate impact.
 
2ND ROUNDERS:

Jae Crowder (DAL - 34th) - Energetic power forwards are always an easy bet.  Crowder has a motor that few can match.

Tyshawn Taylor (BKN - 41st) -  A long, athletic, defensive minded point guard, Taylor should benefit from the tutelage of Deron Williams.

Quincy Miller (DEN 38th) - Similar to Perry Jones, Quincy Miller is chalk full of potential.  Easy bust material, but possible diamond in the rough.

Doron Lamb (MIL - 42nd) - A solid player at a thin position.  Lamb has composure and talent.

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