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Rookie Watch: Top storylines

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by greatpacha1, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. greatpacha1

    greatpacha1 Member

    Oct 21, 2010
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    Interesting read, didnt see it posted anywhere. I also bolded the rockets parts.


    A veteran NBA player can expect every season to be like a roller-coaster ride, full of ups and downs with drama and thrills mixed in. But NBA rookies can expect a more traumatic experience, closer probably to a "jump from space" than anything because it's going to feel like the speed of the season and the games are at a breathtaking pace.

    Still, we know some rookies will rise above and immediately prove their value in this league, while others will take a little longer to do so. With the season just days away, here's what we're looking for from the rookie class:

    1. Can Anthony Davis learn to score this year?
    Here's what we know: Davis is going to be a force on defense for the Hornets, thanks to his shot-blocking ability and quick feet. He reminds me of Joakim Noah on this end. We also know he'll be one of his team's best rebounders with his great hands and desire to hit the boards despite being so thin (rebounding will get even easier for him as he gains strength). As we saw during his freshman season at Kentucky, he can impact games without scoring.

    But as the top overall pick, that ultimately won't be good enough. So the big question is: When will he take a big step up on offense? If he can become a scoring/shooting force while dominating the paint on defense and the boards, he'll be a future MVP candidate. Right now, though, that's a big if.

    Dwight Howard averaged 12 points per game on 52 percent shooting as a 19-year-old rookie. If Davis, who is also 19, can average 10-plus points per game, the Hornets should be thrilled.

    2. Is Portland's Damian Lillard the next Rose/Westbrook/Irving?

    The NBA has seen some superstar point guards enter the league these past few years -- Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving -- and each of them showed much of that potential as rookies. Lillard showed that type of talent during summer league in Las Vegas.

    The sixth overall pick seems headed for a long career as a starting point guard, which would mean Portland had a successful draft. But if Lillard is able to score and run his team as he did in Vegas and in some games this preseason, then the Blazers could very well end up with the top player from this draft.

    3. Is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going to be an impact player?

    As the No. 2 overall pick in the draft with a few true elite talents still available (Harrison Barnes, Lillard, Bradley Beal, even Andre Drummond), MKG has a lot of pressure to play at a high level. Having Bobcats owner Michael Jordan suggest he was their "Pippen" only adds to those expectations. But there is some doubt that he is going to be that special.

    MKG has been physically superior to his competition for years, but that advantage is over now. And while he might play harder than many, the league is filled with guys who are just as athletic and hustle as much as him, many of whom are stronger than him. He doesn't have to merit ROY consideration for the season to be considered a success, but earning a consistent starting position by season's end would be a great place to mark his first year.

    4. Were experts right last year when Harrison Barnes was atop draft lists?

    Barnes showed off huge upside in Vegas as a hungry scorer and overall playmaker. He's also proving this preseason that he'll be a legit deep shooting threat. In addition, he has a huge defensive upside to go along with a big and athletic body for a wing player.

    If he can prove to be a do-it-all forward for the Warriors (albeit in small steps this season), he will make Bobcats fans awfully restless unless MKG makes a similar impact. Barnes is just 14 months older than MKG but far more polished on the perimeter.

    5. Are Andre Drummond/Jeremy Lamb better off in the D-League?


    The argument for not sending a rookie to the D-League is that a rookie is better off with veterans around him, learning from them and the coaches who will be guiding him. So even if Drummond does not play, he'll learn from practice, watching games, working daily with Greg Monroe, etc.

    On the other hand, nothing beats playing time for young players, who can develop reference points to learn from at future practices. And playing time helps develop basketball IQ, not to mention conditioning and an overall feel for the game. If Drummond ends up in the rotation for Detroit early on -- and he has been impressive this preseason -- there will be no debate. If he does not, this becomes a serious question because his talent, draft position and upside all create pressure for him to become a solid player, if not a star.

    Lamb is in a different climate, currently playing behind Houston's leading scorer Kevin Martin and veteran Carlos Delfino. Lamb showed excellent scoring skills in Vegas, but does not look to be ready to play a complete game just yet. He would destroy the D-League as a scorer and could gain valuable experience at the details of the game. If he is not playing in Houston, expect to see him score 20 points per game in Rio Valley.

    6. How will Royce White and his anxiety issues work in the NBA?

    As a psychology major in college and someone who has worked in mental hospitals, this is a sensitive subject to me and one that is of the utmost importance to White and any future pro who suffers from a similar disease/problem. Both White and the Rockets have been brave regarding this process and, in some ways, can serve to be pioneers in this cause.

    Mental and physical stress can be worrisome for White, as all NBA players have to deal with all types of stress almost nightly. The fear of flying aspect of this equation only adds to the dilemma. How White handles the roller-coaster ride might be the most intriguing off-the-court story of the class and the league. His unique talents can help the Rockets a great deal if this issue is handled expertly. Currently, he looks slow, undersized, and unathletic. That will only add to his overall challenge, because the physical part of the game has to get a lot better too.

    7. Can Dion Waiters, Austin Rivers and Thomas Robinson play?
    Jonny Flynn, who was the No. 6 pick in 2009, was released this week. So was Terrence Williams, who was the 11th pick in '09. They may not have been as talented as Waiters, Rivers and Robinson, but they certainly are NBA quality talents.


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    Of the three players in question from this class, Robinson seems most likely to find a spot in the rotation because of what he can contribute right now. However, a desire to be more than a role player from the get-go is often a problem for top-5 picks.

    Waiters is another story, as he hasn't shown in summer league or preseason that he was worthy of being drafted at all. Going in the top 5 only furthers the drama. All can be fixed with some quality games in November. Absent of that, his confidence will be notably shaken, and the same can be said for his coaching staff as it relates to its feelings for him.

    Rivers is an enigma as well, though in part because of his last name and uncommon confidence at his age. We can expect all three to be just fine, but being drafted high and valued by their franchises is not a ticket to a starting role. Nor is it any long-term guarantee.

    8. Who will be this year's second-round surprise a la Chandler Parsons?
    Parsons came out of nowhere for the Rockets last season and ended up as one of the top rookies of his class. His emergence added so much value to his franchise because teams that can find a solid starter from Round 2 get paid back handsomely in saved dollars.

    This year it could be Dallas' Jae Crowder, who's playing like a lottery pick. More than that, he has looked like a veteran wing with a polished midrange game and a nose for the ball.

    9. Will Boston's rooks help push them to the final four?

    Boston got younger in the offseason, thanks in part to some sharp free-agent acquisitions. But the Celtics also added two young frontcourt players through the draft who have the potential to help them a little now and a lot later.

    Jared Sullinger seems likely to be in the Celtics' rotation from Day 1 and could be a difference-maker in their half-court offense in a playoff series. Fab Melo seems like a perfect candidate for the D-League, where he can play huge minutes and figure out how to best help his team in May and possibly June.

    10. Best player from this draft not named Anthony Davis this season?
    Guys such as Lillard and Barnes already have shown they will be contenders for "best player in the draft." Terrence Jones has shown big-time talent in Houston. MKG has not, but we have to remember how young he is (he turned 19 last month). Many young rooks start slowly but finish strong.

    Beal was solid in Vegas and has shown he's more than just a shooter this preseason. And then there are the two guys who fell like a stone in June's draft -- Perry Jones and Sullinger -- who will benefit from playing on excellent teams with top coaches. They have the talent to earn "Best in Class" votes. Meanwhile, Drummond will be in the running for the late season "Most Improved
  2. IzakDavid13

    IzakDavid13 Contributing Member

    Jan 2, 2011
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    I hope that he gets it together very soon, both mentally and physically.
  3. Snoopy51

    Snoopy51 Member

    Oct 17, 2012
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    Looks like Houston organization is 100% behind Royce to solve his anxeity problem.

    Next level is to take his talent to the court!
  4. Dreamin

    Dreamin Member

    Dec 14, 2010
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    I dont like how he uses the word 'disease', I would have used 'condition'. But I like the part how he says we are being 'pioneers'.
  5. MambaJoe

    MambaJoe Member

    Jul 11, 2009
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    They are pretty spot on on all the young players for Houston. Royce seem a step slow but its still really early and we can't really tell just yet until mid season or late. I hope Lamb doesn't get sent to the Dleague but instead get some playing time and able to learn from the vets like Kmart and Delfino who both could be great examples for him.

    I am happy that they recognize Parsons for his on court production. He is a great player for a 2nd round pick and he's been solid and getting better each game. Plus he's still young but the maturity he brings is great. Reminds me of a taller more athletic Shane Battier. Jones also has been a beast. He is doing all the little things like fighting for lose balls, doing a little bit of everything.

    Its funny how the writer mentioned Flynn and Twill also. Its crazy how both of them were high draft picks and their teams were high on them when they were first drafted and 3 years later, they were released from their team. I still can't get over that. That goes to show you that even if you're the lottery pick, it doesn't mean you're safe at all.
  6. haoafu

    haoafu Contributing Member

    Jun 29, 2006
    Likes Received:
    White appears to be in good conditioning and quicker than I expected. It's obvious he shouldn't play SF.

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