10 NBA Rookies That You Must Watch Early In 2013-14
10 NBA Rookies That You Must Watch Early in 2013
With a new season about to kickoff this week in the NBA, the beginning of some young careers are about to give fan bases plenty of hope for the future of their franchises.
Although the 2013 NBA draft lacked the star power that we're use to seeing in years past, there were plenty of impact players selected, some of which have been put into situations where they will be acted to perform from opening night -- the rookie version of a baptism by fire.
Just 12 months ago, these 10 young men were watching the NBA on their home sofa or campus bar, but within the next few days, each will step on an NBA court, stand next to their idols, and get a crack at defending their childhood heroes. For the point guards, they'll soon get to guard the likes of Derrick Rose and try to get past the tenacious and quick handed Chris Paul. For others, it'll be a rude awakening as they attempt to stop LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant, where they once could merely eat popcorn while watching them.
It's going to be an exciting time for these young men as they get their first taste of NBA action, and equally exciting for us as we get to see them grow before our own eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, your 10 rookies to watch for the upcoming season.
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
By selecting Ben McLemore with the seventh pick in this past year's draft, the Kings ensured, along with DeMarcus Cousins, that they will possess exciting talent to build the franchise around for the future. .
McLemore, the athletic shooting guard out of Kansas, possesses what possibly could be the best shooting mechanics and stroke in the entire 2013 draft class. Although he has struggled to make a huge impression in the preseason, the 23 point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers gave us a glimpse at the bright future ahead for McLemore.
With a rebuilding franchise that lacks star talent, aside from DeMarcus Cousins, McLemore should get all the minutes he can handle, and thus, is a must watch for this upcoming season.
Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Coming out of Indiana, the Orlando Magic knew they were getting two things when they selected Victor Oladipo with the second pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
First of all, with Oladipo, the Magic acquired a talent whose tenacious defense alone got him notable support in his bid for the National Player of the Year race in his final collegiate season. With a combination of quick hands and feet, Oladipo, at the very least, projects out as a player similar to Tony Allen, that can be a blanket for one opposing player on any given night.
Secondly, Oladipo is the kind of athlete that will get you halfway up out of your couch at least once a game with something he manages to do with his physical gifts alone. With a young roster that possesses intriguing talents in Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Mo Harkless, the addition of Oladipo should have you tuning in to see these young talents grow before your eyes.
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
Boy, does Michael Jordan need this one to work out.
For nervous Charlotte Bobcats fans, you may relax in knowing that for the skill deficiencies of a Tyrus Thomas, lack of athleticism possessed by Adam Morrison, and lack of hunger quench for Sean May, the franchise finally drafted a player with some legitimate All-Star potential in the acquisition of Cody Zeller.
The 7-foot-0 power forward out of Indiana possesses what might be the most intriguing package of physical gifts, as he combines legitimate height with great speed and athleticism, something that today's successful post players in the league essentially share as a commonality, and should get all the playing time he can handle.
Archie Goodwin, Phoenix Suns
Earlier this preseason, Goran Dragic gave a statement that should inject some excitement over the future of the Phoenix Suns. When asked about Archie Goodwin, Dragic stated that, "So far he’s battling on defense and offense, and when he puts the ball on the floor, he’s really unstoppable." If a young, athletic 6-foot-5 shooting guard who can score in a variety of ways doesn't get you excited as a fan base, you must be lacking in imagination.
As arguably the most athletic player, outside of Eric Bledsoe, on the Suns' roster, which plans to run and one who will be equally scrutinized in his performances over the course of the season, we should see plenty of Goodwin this upcoming season.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns
Speaking of Phoenix Suns draft picks, none become more exciting to speculate about than Alex Len.
With the deal earlier this week that shipped Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards, the path has opened for Len to become a key contributor on the young Suns team this upcoming season.
In his final season at Maryland, Len put up a very impressive 11.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in just over 26 minutes while playing some of his best basketball against the powerhouse programs of Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina. With the opportunity to play a key role this season right in front of Len, he should be kept under close eye by NBA fans.
Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
First and foremost, Michael Carter-Williams has the essential talents that any player at the position requires, passing ability and vision.
There is no way to sugarcoat that Carter-Williams currently possesses a less than stellar jump shot, in the same way that there is no way to sugarcoat that Amare Stoudemire possesses less than stellar knees at this point in his career. That said, we've seen many guards over the course of their career drastically improve that identical weakness, and in some cases, such as Jose Calderon, turn it into their greatest strength.
With all the court time he can handle and a franchise that will look to see as much of him as possible to gauge his future with the organization, it's safe to say that a lot of Sixers fans will be watching him closely this season and hoping his off-time is dominated by a rubber ball, an empty gym, and a whole slew of jumpers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
By now, most fans have seen the notorious picture depicting the size of Giannis Antetokounmpo's hands. While that might be impressive in itself and definitely presents plenty of potential for a double high five of his Milwaukee Bucks teammates at some point this season, let's not forget that this young man knows how to play the game of basketball at a very high level.
He has shown a nice medium range jump shot and possesses the kind of mechanics that one can envision one day leading to an above average jump shooter. Once you glance through the Bucks' roster and see no player that convincingly stands in the way of Antetokounmpo and significant playing time this season, should he prove capable of standing his ground against the best in the world, you suddenly have a very exciting player to keep your eyes on this season.
Dennis Schröder, Atlanta Hawks
Coming out of Germany, Dennis Schröder was a big mystery to just about everyone outside of NBA talent evaluation personnel and the 47 Phantoms Braunschweig fans from the Basketball Bundesliga.
The 6-foot-1 point guard possesses the kind of speed and quickness that have propelled players such as Tony Parker and John Wall into the NBA's elite tier at the position. As well, he has an impressive jump shot for such a young prospect that should be taken note of throughout league circles as the scouting report on Schröder starts to take shape. With backup point guard duties behind Jeff Teague all but locked for the talented young guard, expect plenty of big things from Schröder this upcoming campaign.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
The fatal flaw of the Detroit Pistons just might be one of perimeter shooting to space the floor. With the selection of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in this past year's NBA draft, the team just might already have its solution within its collection of talent. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard out of Georgia was noted for his outside shooting stroke in his collegiate career as he 37.3 percent of his 7.0 attempts per game last season, something which has already translated to his pro career through preseason play.
With five games of double digit scoring under his belt through preseason play, the confidence should be high within Caldwell-Pope to translate his abilities to the pro level, and with a team that just might need him to do so in order to be successful, he is a player that's definitely gotta be kept track of this season.
Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers
To say that many were shocked when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick would be like saying that many weren't surprised when they selected LeBron James with that very same pick in 2003.
As a basketball player, Bennett is the kind of player that gives you hope in building a foundation, the kind of versatile talent that lets you pencil his name into the lineup and rest easy, assured that he'll provide plenty by the sound of the final buzzer. In his lone season at UNLV, Bennett not only punished opponents with his strength and scoring prowess, but also the rim with his tenacious activity around the basket.
Although the injury that slowed his conditioning this past offseason has thus far led to conditioning issues for the talented young rookie, a spot within the starting lineup of the Cavaliers is not a matter of if, but when this upcoming season.