|For those who thought Derrick Williams may have been a better pick than Kyrie Irving...you were wrong.|
Note: With teams now approaching the 33-game, we will be taking this week to do a mid-season review. Stay tuned for analysis of the standings, MVP, ROY, DPOY, MIP, 6th Man and more.
What is the true value of a rookie? As we approach the mid-point of the season this question becomes more and more relevant. There are some players who will be stars, future number one options and leaders of their respective teams. There are others who will become second or third scoring options. Some players will wind up as career role players and a majority of each rookie class has a short stint of three or four years in the league.
You won’t find any three and outs in our top 10 rankings and in fact it looks as though this “weak” draft class is a bit stronger than many had predicted, though still nothing to brag about. Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio are locks for being franchise players. Kemba Walker is putting up numbers that tell us he is going to have a prolific output and could turn into a franchise player, but the Bobcats aren’t winning games. Is it the lack of talent surrounding him? Does he make his teammates better? Then we have Brandon Knight of the Pistons. He looks to be a true point guard, but it’s uncertain if he will be mediocre or semi-elite. Then we have Kawhi Leonard and Chandler Parsons, both who are a sure thing when it comes to being solid role players, but also have the potential to be second or third scoring options on their teams. MarShon Brooks is a shooter and a scorer at heart. If he can develop a more all-around game, he could be something special, if not he will be a shooting specialist. Amongst the Linsanity, Iman Shumpert has played valuable backup minutes for the Knicks, which might be his purpose in the NBA. Markieff Morris of the Suns has proven he can score when he is given the rock. If the Suns have faith in him he has 20-10 potential. Last is Klay Thompson, who has had a hot hand of late and might be a viable replacement for the volume scoring Monta Ellis.
By the end of the season we will have an even better idea of what type of career each of these players will have. A few of them might have the luxury of making into the playoffs as well. If they can produce on that stage it will help cement them into the NBA.
1. Kyrie Irving- Irving missed three games with concussion symptoms and then returned to lead the Cavs to an impressive win over the Pacers, going for 22 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists. He has singlehandedly rejuvenated the Cavs and will turn them back into a playoff team within a year or two. LW: 2
2. Ricky Rubio- The Wolves hit a cold spot, losing four straight after the Kevin Love face stomp incident. In time Rubio will have the leadership abilities to stop the bleeding from such occurrences, his inability to do that now may have cost the Wolves a shot at the eighth seed in the West. LW: 1
3. Kemba Walker- He has scored 19, 21 and 21 respectively in his last three games. On the season he is averaging 13.1 points, 4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. The Bobcats aren’t quite good enough to make Kemba shine and Kemba isn’t good enough to put him on his back…yet. LW: 6
4. Brandon Knight- The Pistons have won five of seven and the duo of Knight and Monroe as the future of the Pistons is starting to take shape after what was an uber-ugly start to the season. Knight won’t turn into anything all-star worthy, but he is good enough to lead a contender. On the season he is averaging 12.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. LW: 5
5. Kawhi Leonard- Leonard continues to do what is asked of him. When the Spurs need him to log heavy minutes and produce, he does. When they lower his minutes and touches, he takes it in stride. I have a feeling they are priming him to be a big part of their future once the Parker, Ginobili, Duncan era ends. It’s hard to tell how dominant he can be though. LW: 3
6. Chandler Parsons- Much like Leonard he continues to do what is asked of him and had a large role in an impressive win over the Thunder on Wednesday night going for 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 35 minutes of play. LW: 4
7. MarShon Brooks- He missed nine of ten games due to injury and has slowly returned over the past three games. The sad thing is that the Nets don’t seem to play better with or without him. Things are sad in Jersey, but if MarShon makes it out alive and turns into a 15-20 point scoring threat not named Nick Young, that would be a plus. LW: 8
8. Iman Shumpert- He is being overshadowed by Linsanity and rightfully so, but he has still had a part in the Knicks’ seven game winning streak. On the year he is averaging 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. LW: 9
9. Markieff Morris- In three recent games against the Kings, Warriors and Nuggets Morris was given 10-plus touches and it resulted in scoring outputs of 18, 10 and 21 respectively. In the words of Skip Bayless, it might be time for the Suns to “unleash” Markieff. LW: 10
10. Klay Thompson- During a recent three-game winning streak against the Nuggets, Rockets and Suns, Thompson scored 19, 14 and 10 points respectively. He also did that needing only 11, 10 and 6 shots. Looks like the Warriors may have solved their Monta Ellis problem. LW: UR