2014-2015 NBA Rookie Preview: Stars & Busts
The current NBA rookie class is one of the deepest we’ve seen in recent history. The incoming group is filled with future superstars, players who will be the final piece for a playoff contender, but there are also sure to be duds.
Let’s take a look at the crystal ball.
Noah Vonleh- Charlotte Hornets
The Michael Jordan Bobcats…er…Hornets, have perfected the art of horrendous drafting, so hinder the enthusiasm about him being a star of the future. Sure, Vonleh won the Big Ten Freshmen Of The Year award and he has a 7’5” wingspan, but the odds of Charlotte making a good draft selection are slim. Vonleh is raw and one heck of a defensive player, especially on the boards, but he also turned the ball over 18.6 percent of his possessions when he was at Indiana and didn’t do the best around the rim either. He’s young, so he could improve but not enough to justify being the ninth pick.
The Steal Of The NBA Rookie Class
T.J. Warren- Phoenix Suns
Warren went 14th to the Phoenix Suns this past June. Years from now, fans will look back and say, “How did this guy fall to 14th?” Warren averaged 25 ppg last season at NC State and even dropped 42 points during a conference game. You won’t find too many players at the college level who can score 42 points in a single game. He has elite scoring abilities, solid footwork and a plethora of moves on the offensive end. When you consider the fact that Warren will have Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe to put him in scoring positions, you can see how that may have Suns fans watering at the mouth. Warren could end up having an impact like Kawhi Leonard did for the Spurs.
What’s Been The Missing Piece For A Playoff Contender
Doug McDermott- Chicago Bulls (pictured above)
McDermott lead all of college basketball in scoring with 26.9 ppg during his senior season at Creighton. He won’t be expected to carry the load, nor does anyone expect McDermott to drop 26-30 points a night for the Bulls, but his scoring ability is so pure he has the ability to do so if needed. With Derrick Rose, Paul Gasol, and Joakim Noah, an extremely talented roster will surround McDermott. His three-point shooting could be what the Bulls need to defeat Cleveland for the Eastern Conference crown.
Related: NBA Preview: Boom or Bust Players
Julius Randle- Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers’ seventh pick, Julius Randle, was one of the powerful big men in last year’s college basketball season. Randle even lead the young Kentucky team all the way to the national championship game while other young superstars Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were eliminated the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Randle is an explosive scorer in the post who already had the physicality to compete in the NBA when he was 18 years old. His face-up game and first step are solid. But his move set is limited when his back is to the basket. Often times, you would see Randle do the same spin move over and over again. One of the main knocks on his game is the defensive side but coaching can fix that. Despite the Lakers already having a veteran frontcourt in Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill, its obvious that Randle is the future, and with Kobe Bryant mentoring him, he may just be the steal of the draft.
Andrew Wiggins- Minnesota Timberwolves
The No. 1 draft pick of the 2014 class is expected to be on this list. Wiggins was selected by the Cavaliers this summer and was expected to be the talented sidekick of Lebron James. A trade with the Timberwolves for their superstar big man, Kevin Love, switched things up a bit. Now the freakish athlete will be the focal point of a young Minnesota squad that also, features Zach LaVine, Anthony Bennett, and Ricky Rubio. Wiggins’ athleticism and ability to get to the rim cannot be questioned. If he can develop a dependable perimeter game, the sky is the limit for the former Jayhawk.
Nerlens Noel- Philadelphia 76ers
Noel was selected sixth in the 2013 NBA Draft but sat out the entire season to rehab a knee injury sustained during his one season at Kentucky, so he will make his NBA debut this season. The 6’11” big man is an elite shot blocker and there are no critiques of his defensive game due to his natural instincts around the rim. Players, be on notice that if you come into the lane against Noel, be prepared to have your shot swatted into the stands. The only drawback is Noel’s offensive game is raw. Noel showed strong improvement in that department during the NBA’s summer league and with Michael Carter-Williams running the point, Noel should have no issues getting many lobs and chances to tear down the rim.
Rookie Of The Year
Jabari Parker- Milwaukee Bucks
Many people believed Parker should have been the top pick in last summer’s draft, including yours truly. At 6’8” and 235 pounds, Parker is already a load to deal with and his offensive prowess is second to no one in this rookie class. Parker will be ‘the man’ in Milwaukee with very little competition in the scoring department on his roster. The former Duke Blue Devil averaged 19.1 ppg and 8.7 rpg in his one season and that stat line is very much attainable for his rookie season. Parker often draws comparisons to a young Paul Pierce, and that is a hell of a compliment. If he improves his defensive game, Jabari Parker could end up being in the upper echelon of NBA superstars. The Bucks fanbase should enjoy the next few years because it will be inevitable that Parker will move on to greener pastures. But at least he will be in a Bucks uniform when he hosts the rookie of the year award.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports, a surfing enthusiast, an unhealthy sports fanatic, and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like”CraveOnline Sports on CraveOnline Sports.
Photo Credit: Getty