It’s been few months since the NBA draft and the hype surrounding this rookie class is about to ratchet up—now we’ll see which rookie will step up to the plate and shine, and whose game on the court will create a buzz around the league.
As a Raptors fan, I’ve seen two former Rookies Of The Year pass through Toronto: Damon Stoudamire and Vince Carter. These two were high draft picks, ball handling guards who had great offensive talents and captured the imagination of the public through electrifying plays. Their debut was thrilling and exciting.
So which of this season’s rookies will seize some of that magic and write their own stories in the NBA?
1. PF Anthony Davis
The first overall pick from the 2013 draft class has all the tools needed to shine in his rookie season. His college days at Kentucky were prolific, capped off by a NCAA Men’s Basketball title.
Where Anthony Davis will dominate is on the defensive side of the ball: his athletic prowess, speed and wing span can cause havoc for other teams. His career is also helped by playing on the USA Basketball team in the Olympics with top players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, experiencing the highest level of international basketball in high pressure situations. The Olympics may be the emergence of Davis into the top tier of basketball talent.
2. SF Harrison Barnes
An offensive force in UNC, Barnes has a good shot, and a great scoring ability which should translate well to the NBA. Barnes was the top scoring freshman in the ACC, and is a constant offensive threat. He also shares a legacy at UNC, which produces great NBA-calibre players, especially shooting guards and small forwards. Names that come to mind include Sam Perkins, Vince Carter and of course, Michael Jordan.
3. C Jonas Valanciunas
Actually drafted in last year’s rookie class, Valanciunas stayed overseas to play another year professionally. With more experience under his belt, this rookie will be entering his first season in the NBA looking to blossom into a productive player.
Playing pro in Lithuania, Valanciunas has experience competing against more mature and experienced players. This would be beneficial as he will most likely be a starter on the Raptors, and battling against the opponents best players.
It is these three players who, in my opinion, have the greatest probability to stake their claim for rookie of the year and be a force in the NBA. Although these are my top picks I believe there will be a few pleasant surprises and dark horse candidates to emerge this season. For instance:
4. Bradley Bea and 5. Meyers Leonard
Look forward to seeing what scoring machine Bradley Bea can do for the Wizards, and what Meyers Leonard, a gifted two-way center brings to the Trail Blazers. Bradley Beal could be a complimentary piece point guard for John Wall, feeding off Wall’s passing abilities to get into easy baskets.
This newcomer can create a run and gun offence in Washington and elevate the Wizards into a fun competitive team.
On the other hand, Meyers Leonard, at “7’1”inches, will be a towering presence in the Trail Blazer front court. Probably a starter at center, he could command attention in the low post and provide a rebounding presence on the floor. His success will be tied to how well the team does, since Leonard could turn the Blazers into a playoff team.
It should be an interesting rookie class this season, with an 82 game marathon to prove who is capable of being a future star in the NBA.