With the NBA regular season coming to a close, we’ve got a big enough sample size to look at how this year’s crop of rookies did. There were a few that look to be impact players moving forward, but there’s not a lot of all-star appearances in line for this group unless they improve greatly.

It’s quite apparent that Damian Lillard has had the best rookie season, but where will this batch of rookies be in a handful of years?

1.) Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers

At 22 years old, Lillard is one of the older rookies in the class. Teams are always on the lookout for young guys with potential but the Blazers are reaping the benefits of taking a player that stayed in college long enough to polish his play. As a result, Lillard is leading all rookies in both scoring and assists. By staying in school, Lillard mastered the pick and roll, which has served him well. However, due to his advanced age he lacks the potential of his younger counterparts, but will remain one of the elite players from this class.

2.) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

Davis, the number one overall pick has quietly put together a solid rookie campaign. He really needs to put in time in the weight room this offseason (although how much muscle he can add to his thin frame is in question). He’s managed to bang inside enough to put up a rookie-best 8 rebounds per game and despite missing time with injuries has right around 70 rebounds more than any other rookie this year. He looks to have as much promise as any rookie going forward. His all-around skills on both sides of the ball portend plenty of success in the years to come. The hype around Davis appears to have been out of control before the season as some were projecting him as a Tim Duncan type of savior. With his apparent inability to carry weight, a Chris Bosh level player looks much more feasible.

3.) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Drummond, at times, struggled to display his immense talent during his time at UConn. That, combined with teams confusing a laid back demeanor for a lack of desire led to him sliding to the Pistons with the 9th pick. Joe Dumars and Detroit are looking very shrewd for taking him as he’s given them a big man in the middle with rare athletic gifts that is a capable scorer, who even seems to be a natural fit playing alongside fellow young post player Greg Monroe. His stat line of 7.4 points, 7.5 rebounds isn’t all that imposing until you realize that he plays just over 19 minutes per game.  If you extrapolate his numbers over 36 minutes he gives the Pistons 13.7 and 13.5 per 36 minutes while shooting  over 59% (tops among rookies), and very similar to Dwight Howard’s numbers as a rookie. Assuming he builds on this year’s performance he could very well end up proving us correct for ranking him the 2nd overall prospect before the draft, with him possibly even becoming the best player from the 2012 draft class.

4.) Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Beal has already become important enough to the Wizards (especially due to the fact that John Wall spent most of the season injured) that he plays more minutes than any rookie not named Lillard. He’s third among rookies with 14 points per game, and shooting over 38% from behind the three point line. His ability to stretch the floor will continue to get him all the opportunities he could want in Washington, especially playing alongside Wall. Moving forward, he should continue to develop and will provide the Wizards with balance on offense. He’ll have to become more efficient as a scorer though.

5.) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

Golden State took a step forward this year and became a playoff caliber team. Part of that was the play of their rookie, Harrison Barnes. Was he spectacular? Hardly. What he did do was provide outside shooting and even did some rebounding and fit in to the team concept. His abilities were a great fit for the Warriors. His game is a good fit for the NBA game and he should continue to progress nicely over the next few years. He is one of the few that could develop into an all-star caliber talent.

6.) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

Let’s get one thing straight right now, if this list took into account production relative to draft position, MKG would not be this high. When a team picks second, they want an impact player and MKG has not consistently been a difference maker on the court. However, he has quietly put together a decent enough stat line. He goes for 9 points, five and a half boards, one and a half assists, and a block each game. How Kidd-Gilchrist is ultimately viewed throughout his career is going to be dependent upon if fans accept him as a player who does the little things that a winning team needs in order to win. He can be a fantastic "glue guy" of sorts, but it’s unlikely he’ll transform into a go-to guy offensively.

7.) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers

There were some questions when the Cavaliers used their 4th overall pick on a guy that didn’t even start for his Syracuse team. However, they liked his ability to score the basketball, and thought he would mesh well with franchise player Kyrie Irving. He had a rocky season, but he has managed to score 14.7 points per outing this year. Waiters has to learn to be a more effective scorer, though. He has been the beneficiary of getting a lot of playing time on a bad team, and has shot a poor field goal percentage.

8.) Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic

Nicholson has played well while remaining under the radar playing for the Orlando Magic. He only plays about 16 minutes each night, but he makes the most of those minutes. He shoots a very respectable 53.7% from the field. If you look at his per 36 minute stats,  he averages 17 and 7. One of his limitations is that he can tend to foul a little too much. Going forward, he lacks the long term potential of his classmates, but he looks like a solid rotation player for years to come.

9.) Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors

Ross has shown he can be a solid contributor. His season has been up and down as he has to share playing time with Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan. He’s a fun player to watch and brought some notoriety to the Raptors by winning the dunk contest this season. Stats don’t tell the story of what he brings to the team. He is capable of providing a spark off the bench and gives them another skilled wing scorer. He’ll have to continue to develop, and for the time being will have to do so in limited minutes due to the logjam on the wing in Toronto. If this list were based on potential, he would be higher.

10.) Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

It’s a shame Sullinger ended up getting injured. He was really coming on strong and becoming a solid contributor for a Celtics team desperate for an inside presence. His play this season was about so much more than stats, as he provides something the Celtics need, a big body to bang in the post. With that said, if you look at his per 36 minute numbers he averaged 10.9 points and 10.7 rebounds. He was progressing nicely and was learning from Kevin Garnett. The back injury was unfortunate and he’ll have to hope he can completely recover from it, which can be easier said than done. If he does, he could be a solid contributor for Boston inside for years to come.



  1. maybe he said Chris Bosh
    maybe he said Chris Bosh offensivelly, cause otherwise that makes no sense AD might be the better rebounder shot blocker and maybe even a better overall defender than Chris ever was

  2. Incorrect
    Valanciunas has been playing well and better than Ross the whole season. Both of their minutes have increased recently and while Val has looked like a promising future center many expect to be an all star down the road, Ross has shown he has a lot more to learn about the game. He absolutely dominated Drummond a few games ago against Detroit, Val was blocking Drummond all over the place and taking it to him on offense consistently. If Ross made the list, then Val should have been on the list and a few spots higher period.

  3. Check out the box score
    Check out the box score between the detroit Pistons game vs the Raptors on April 1st and March 29, 2013:

    March 29:

    April 1:

    In those games, Jonas dominated Drummond.

    March 29 stat line for Jonas V: 14 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocks
    March 29 stat line for Drummond: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks

    April 1st stat line for Jonas: 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 blocks
    April 1st stat line for Drummond: 4 points and 4 rebound ZERO blocks

    In the last 10 games, Jonas is averaging 15.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game

    In the last 10 games, Drummond is averaging: 8.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1 block per game

    Drummond tends to get his points off dunks. He can’t really do much else. Jonas can make the mid range and score around the basket off a variety of low post moves.

    • He sure outclassed Drummond
      He sure outclassed Drummond by playing more than twice Drummond’s minutes and managing to score less points. Oh, and the 12/42 rebounds that the starting frontcourt got outside of Valanciunas in his 40 minutes of play is a measly 28% of the rebounds for the team, while drummond, in only 19 minutes, had to fight for rebounds next to a great rebounder and greg monroe, and someone who had a good night for rebounding in Kyle Singler. The piston’s frontcourt outside of Drummond grabbed 19 of the total 34 rebounds, or 56% of the rebounds available during the entire game.

      Not only that, but if we extrapolate Drummond’s numbers to 40 minutes worth of play, we get: 35.8 pts, 8.5 rebounds, 4.2 blocks and steals. If you prefer to cut down JV’s numbers to drummond’s playtime, we get JV’s numbers down to: 6.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1 steal.

      Numbers are meaningless without context. I love Drummond. I wanted JV when he was still considered a second round pick on this site years ago. They will both be good, but to say taht JV has ever dominated Drummond, and to leave out the first games we played earlier in the year when Drummond wasn’t just returning from injury, or even discussing the playtime at all, is a travesty.

  4. The only possible excuse for
    The only possible excuse for not having VJ up there is that he was not a 2012 draftee? Otherwise it is absolutely rediculous.

    Not only is he performing very well this season ( T. Ross certainly isn’t) but he definately looks like he will have a better career longterm than half the guys on that list.

    Major oversight there as a great number of posters have already pointed out.

  5. I compared Anthony Davis to
    I compared Anthony Davis to Pervis Ellison going into the draft. Then I heard Shaq compare Davis to Pervis. I also predicted him to go to the Olympics a couple of weeks before Bill Simmons jumped on the bandwagon.

    Anthony Davis can be a perennial all-star type player if he stays healthy. Good offensive game, great motor, with some weak side shot blocking. Plus rebounding. I don’t see him being a physical freak like Blake Griffin or Shawn Kemp. I also don’t see him being a Tim Duncan type guy inside — he lacks the height, frame, and low post polish. But, he is a good player. Not sure who else I would compare him to. As long as he stays healthy and keeps improving, he is a core guy without a doubt.

    I can see his peak being like a combination of a peak Rasheed Wallace (length, soft touch, shot blocking skills, motor, smarts) and a peak Juwan Howard (very solid scoring and rebounding numbers, great second or third option, steady).

  6. id put harkless, and maybe
    id put harkless, and maybe even jae crowder in over valinciunas.

    and to the kid who said he dominated drummond a few games ago, he didnt. it was drummonds first game back from a fractured vertabrae, and he played like 11 minutes.

    • What ??????
      Harkless has been playing pretty well as of late… But putting crowder over JV?? Really??? I’m a Knicks fan but I do live in toronto and I’ve seen pretty much every raptors game. To put Crowder over JV has to be one of the dumbest statements I’ve read on here. As of today Crowder has a total of 13 double digit scoring games, shoots a pretty low percentage from everywhere. All he has is his hustle which is good but JV has that too and shows potential to score that crowder will never have. Still can’t believe someone said crowder over JV

  7. Valanciunas is easily top 5
    Valanciunas is easily top 5 on this list.

    I would cut Waiters, Ross and Nicholson. Waiters might average 14.7 ppg…. but it’s VERY inefficient scoring. He’s not exactly a star in defense, rebounding, or passing either. Not sure how he’s had a better season than:

    Meyers Leonard, Mo Harkless and Pablo Prigioni.

    • After the all star break
      After the all star break Waiters averaged 17 pts, 2.3 rebs and 2.3 assists on 48% shooting. He should be way higher on this list. Looking solely at season stats don’t tell the whole story, even then Beal is ranked higher than Waiters simply because of his 3pt fg%. Beal was worse than Waiters from the field! Just shows how bogus these rankings are.

  8. Minutes
    For JV have been limited all season to 20 or less until the Raptors were officially eliminated from the playoffs. Dwane Casey has gone on the record saying that if the Raptors were still in the playoff hunt JV would be sitting more often. As for the who’s better JV or Andre, I think they both have vast potential to be two of the best big men in the league. However JV is further along in his development and his understanding of the game. JV is currently shooting 78% from the free throw line, unfortunately your boy Andre hits about 34%, maybe you’ll point to Drummond’s 59% fg percentage but then I’ll point out that he rarely if ever operates outside of the paint, he scores off of dunks, lay ups, and short floaters. JV has range out to 17 ft, he has a hook shot and yes he can dunk and lay the ball in, and all this without mentioning JV’s disgusting motor and clear leadership abilities, maybe Drummond has the motor, but he hasn’t displayed anything remotely resembling the leadership qualities that Jonas has. I think that Jonas has the rarer skillset at the end of the day. Just my opinion.

  9. Drummond Vs JV
    This will be a great debate for years to come regarding Drummond and JV. But, I think if i was drafting I’d probably go with Drummond because you cant teach the gifts Drummond has but you can be taught a hook shot, learn leadership and practice free throws.

    It would be close though. They’ll both be good players i just hope JV stays in Toronto.

  10. Drummond-JV
    Not really understanding the Drummond- Valancuias debate. What sets Drummond apart from JV is that he is a game changer….everytime drummond steps on the court he effects the game in some way. Sure he may not score as much as Jv but JV is not a game changer. JV does have better footwork, but drummond has a higher ceiling than JV

  11. Future
    I think Davis shouldnt have went first Barnes and Lillard have killed it. If I was New Orleans at the draft I would have been going for all possible offense.

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