The 2012-13 rookie class was talented and has prompted a lot of talk among the fans. There were some splendid performers who helped their respective teams reach greater heights.
We all know who the best rookies were. However, this article doesn’t just examine who the best performing former rookies, i.e, current sophomores are. It also examines who among last year’s rookie class has the greatest amount of potential to develop into the league’s next superstars.
5. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Every team needs a player to support their star player. After all, basketball isn’t a one man’s game. Beal fits this role like a glove. He’s the no. 2 guy on the team and is the ideal go-to-guy for their star point guard, John Wall.
Beal is a 6’5″ shooting guard and is already one of the most underrated young players. Not something one would expect after they realise the impact he had on his team’s performance.
The No. 3 draft pick hardly got any attention last season. He averaged 13.9 PPG, 2.4 APG and 3.8 RPG. These stats don’t do justice to him as towards the latter end of the season, Beal’s game was nothing short of exceptional.
Once Beal and Wall establish a good tandem, they could very well compete with the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook pair as one of the NBA‘s best pairings. But of course, not until atleast another three years. Also, they’ll face stiff competition from another pair on this list.
4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
The no. 1 draft pick has established himself as one of the best up-and-coming players in the league. The 6’10″ Power Forward might be the best player the New Orleans Pelicans (formerly known as Hornets) have acquired since the departure of Chris Paul.
The focal point of the struggling Pelicans, Anthony Davis might be the star player they have been hoping for to fill the void left by CP3. And they got him as young as they come.
Davis can produce at both ends of the court: he averages 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG and 1.2 SPG. Davis missed 18 games last season with a shoulder injury, but was always an integral part of the team every time he stepped onto the court.
Davis is big, athletic, has a good vertical and above all has immense scope for improvement. He’ll be a star to look out for in the near future. If the Hornets build a team around him, complementing his skill set, the Pelicans will be a team to watch out for.
3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
Something’s changed about the cavaliers. Oh wait, it’s lady luck! She has finally smiled upon them. In 2011, they struck gold when they drafted Kyrie Irving.
Last season, they found the ideal player to complement Irving and drafted Dion Waiters. The Cavs finally have something which they never had in the post LeBron era: Hope.
Waiters sported decent numbers for a rookie: 14.7 PPG, 3 APG, 2.4 RPG and 1 SPG. While he’s no Irving, Waiters did show flashes (more like streaks) of brilliance last season. He carried the offence when Irving was injured.
Waiters has speed, a good vertical, solid shooting skills and is pretty dangerous when he drives to the rim. He reminds me of a young J.R. Smith.
Like all the players on this list, he has immense potential. However, this guy might be the one to develop the most because he and Irving have already formed one the most lethal young 1-2 punches in the league. If injury free, Waiters is a dangerous player to have as your opponent.
2. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
One of the most dominating rookies last season, Drummond has enough potential to develop into an elite centre in the coming years. As always, let’s have a look at the stats and my previous statement becomes instantly clear.
Who’s the best center in the league under 30? Dwight Howard. Now, in Howard’s rookie year, he averaged 12 PPG, 10 RPG and 1.7 BPG while playing 33 minutes per game. Drummond averaged 8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG and 1 SPG while playing just 20 minutes per game. If given more playing time, Drummond might have eclipsed the stats of the best center of this generation.
Another reason why Drummond’s on this list is the squad he’s currently playing with- Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups. Jennings and Billups are excellent point guards who always look for big men inside while Smith is an extremely talented SF/PF to play along with. Drummond might also learn a lot playing alongside Smith.
Given some time and the proper exposure, he might be the next Dwight Howard.
1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
The best player to walk into the NBA last season. Every person who follows basketball knows about this youngster out of Weber State University
Here’s a list of the accolades he’s collected in one season- NBA Rookie of the year, NBA Skills Champion, NBA All-Rookie first team and NBA Rising Star.
He averaged 19 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.1 RPG and 1 SPG last season. Lillard’s known for his speed, athleticism, ball handling and ability to produce clutch buzzer beaters.
He’s playing for an average team in which he’s probably the offensive focal point. Lillard’s the Trail Blazers’ best point guard and this will be a huge advantage for him. He’ll also have LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum to look out for inside.
While Lillard is definitely not the best young point guard right now (after all, PG is the most competitive position in the league), he has the potential to get there. He might grow into a Chris Paul type of point guard, a player who can score at will, but prefers to be a facilitator.