Jan 18, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT
The Extra Pass is a new daily column that’s designed to give you a better look at a theme, team, player or scheme. Today, we ask you to put down your TPS report and pick up the Rookie Report:
Since we’re near the halfway point of the season, it’s time to revisit the rookie class and check on some of the bigger names. Who looks like a future All-Star? Which players should be starters going forward? We dissect below:
Davis: Despite not having post moves or a reliable jumper yet, Davis has shown incredible instincts on the offensive end. As SI.com’s Rob Mahoney so wonderfully explained, Davis just has a knack for getting open, and his ability to finish on the move has made him a weapon to be dealt with. Davis is averaging nearly 16 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per36 minutes this season with a PER of 20, and that puts him in great company. Only David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Alonzo Mourning and Ralph Sampson averaged those numbers in their rookie seasons.
Lillard: He looks like the real deal already. His understanding and timing in the pick-and-roll is uncanny for a player his age, but it’s his ability to create space for himself that really separates him from other young point guards. According to Synergy Sports, Lillard is already the 14th most efficient scorer (points per play) in the league in isolation and 23rd in the pick-and-roll. With his separation ability and sweet shooting touch, Lillard’s scoring numbers should only ramp up from an already impressive 18 point per game average.
Beal: This kid has one of the most beautiful jumpers in basketball. His mechanics are flawless — the elbow is in, the release is high, and his body is straight up and down. Don’t let the rough overall numbers fool you (38 percent shooting) – Beal is starting to figure out his role in the NBA. In the month of January, Beal has averaged 18.8 points a game and 61 percent (!) shooting from behind the arc with nearly three makes a game from deep. With John Wall pushing the pace and sucking in defenses, Beal could end up being the best pure spot-up shooter of this draft class.
Nicholson: Give him more minutes, Jacque Vaughn! Nicholson only plays about 14 minutes a night, but he’s been a killer scorer whenever he gets on the floor. Per36 minutes, Nicholson scores 18.4 points on 52 percent shooting thanks to a jumper that has been every bit as good as advertised. Nicholson has knocked in 33-for-72 (45 percent) of his shots from 16-23 feet, a number that puts him right there with the league’s elite stretch 4′s.
Future 6th Man of the Year candidate: Cavaliers G Dion Waiters
Waiters: What kind of shots does Waiters want to get? All of them. The explosive, burly scoring guard takes 17 attempts per36 minutes — a huge number for a rookie. Since the Cavs moved him to the bench nine games ago, Waiters has beaten up on second units with his big frame, totaling over 15 points in five of those contests. It may be a tad early to pigeon hole him, but turning Waiters into a scoring guard off the bench seems like a role perfectly suited for his skill and discretion.
Future Defensive Player of the Year winner: Pistons C Andre Drummond
Drummond: Let’s make something clear — Drummond is not skilled offensively. His jumper is a joke, his touch outside of the paint is laughable, and he shoots 39 percent from the free throw line. That’s what makes everything more insane, though. Drummond leas all rookies in PER at 22.4, and he’s averaging 13 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks per36 minutes. Those are numbers even the great Dwight Howard didn’t sniff in his first season. In league history, Shaq was the only rookie to post 13-13-3 per36 minutes with a PER of over 22. If Drummond can play this well with no discernible skills whatsoever, imagine how good he can be down the line.
MKG: He has a long way to go offensively, but Kidd-Gilchrist is still a self-aware plus defender who will be one of the best rebounding small forwards in basketball for a long time (8.5 boards per36). Yes, his jump shot is completely broken, but MKG does so many things well without the ball that he’ll always warrant heavy playing time.
Barnes: I’m not as bullish on Barnes as most. He plays with blinders on too often, focusing on beating just his man and not on what’s going on around him. That said, Caron Butler has made a nice career for himself playing much the same way. There are reasons for optimism here — Barnes has shown off a nice post game, and his 38 percent 3-point shooting is a nice number in limited attempts — but I just think his ceiling as an all-around player is capped.
Zeller: He’s just what everyone said he was — a 7-foot big man who can run the floor and shoot it a little bit. He’ll be a perfectly passable backup center for years to come.
Sullinger: Sullinger is almost like a Zach Randolph; a subpar athlete who gobbles up space and has a knack for pulling in offensive rebounds and finishing with creativity. Sullinger has been a surprisingly good defensive player as well — the Celtics are about 6 points better per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor.
Drafted to be a star, but a role player going forward: Kings PF Thomas Robinson
Robinson: The big man from Kansas only does one thing great, and that’s offensive rebounding (3.6 per 36 minutes). Other than that, Robinson has no consistent way of scoring, and defensively, his desire to stay near the glass hurts him from defending bigs who can step away from the rim. He’ll clean the glass, but Robinson hasn’t shown he’s capable of doing anything else at even an average level.
Leonard: By the time he figures out the game and develops some actual offensive skill, he’ll hit restricted free agency. Some GM will look at that giant frame and great athleticism and bet he keeps on developing.
Ezeli: It seems like he’ll get a little too much credit for the Warriors defense making the leap under Mark Jackson. He also seems like a player Mark Cuban would love to throw an absurd amount of money at (see: Desagna Diop, Erick Dampier, Brendan Haywood).
Shved: An extremely underrated athlete with good floor vision (5.8 assists per36 minutes), Shved should become a very good third guard once he’s free of the scoring burden that’s been placed on him due to Minnesota’s injury problems.
Copeland: The 28-year-old forward I lovingly refer to as ”created player” because he looks like he was made in NBA2k13 is a natural scoring talent. Per36 minutes, Copeland is averaging 19.6 points per game and is shooting 39 percent from behind the arc. He’s instant offense, even if he doesn’t do much else at all.
Crowder: A classic 3-and-D guy on the wing with a big motor. If he improves his 3-point shooting (32 percent this year) even more, he’ll be a regular in the league for another ten seasons.
Green: A defensive ace that can rebound very well, Green will continue to warrant playing time so long as he figures out what his role his offensively.
The late bloomer: Bucks PF John Henson
Henson: He needs to develop a much better mid-range jumper and he absolutely has to add strength, but Henson is a mobile, long-armed, shot-blocking big who is rebounding like crazy (12.3 rebounds per36 minutes). He may need to get out from under the shadow of Larry Sanders in Milwaukee, but I’d be shocked if Henson isn’t a successful starting power forward down the line.
Career Athlete: Raptors G/F Terrence Ross
Ross: He’s the best rookie dunker I’ve seen in years. Ross has ideal size for the 2 and a decent 3-point shot (32 percent), but he has no in between game to speak of. That said, Ross won’t be hard up for a home in the NBA — not with athleticism like that.
Rivers: Pedigree can only take you so far. Rivers has been dreadful this year, and his shot selection and style of play has never meshed with his level of talent. He won’t be an NBA player until he stops taking bad shots, and I’m not sure that will ever happen.
White: Whether it’s fair or not, White represents too much of a risk for potential employers now. It’s a shame — White’s unique point-forward talents would have made him one of the league’s most interesting players. Instead, he’ll likely join the ranks of the “what-if” players that never seem to put it together.
May 23, 2013, 11:33 PM EDT
For the next few weeks PBT will be profiling likely first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today we talk about Indiana’s wingman. ESPN’s well connected Chad Ford put it this simply in a chat Wednesday: “Oladipo is the guy that GMs love in this draft.” Victor Oladipo was one of those guys with…
May 23, 2013, 11:20 PM EDT
The Nets are looking to hire a big name with a strong track record to fill their vacant head coaching position, after parting ways with interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo following a season that ended with a first round playoff loss in seven games at the hands of the Bulls. Brooklyn reached out to Phil…
May 23, 2013, 8:39 PM EDT
Most likely, the Cleveland Cavaliers will take Nerlens Noel with the No. 1 overall pick. When you think about their needs, a big man who can run the floor and defend the rim fits that. Of course, Noel is a project, a couple years away from really contributing much at all to an NBA team.…
May 23, 2013, 7:01 PM EDT
Late in the first quarter of the Heat’s overtime Game 1 win over the Pacers, Shane Battier drove into the lane and challenged Roy Hibbert on a layup attempt. Battier’s form was more than a little unorthodox as he went up for the shot, leading with his right knee that caught Hibbert squarely below the…
May 23, 2013, 6:51 PM EDT
Today Kay Adams and I are talking what everyone else is — Heat vs. Pacers. I feel bad for Paul George because the Pacers wouldn’t have been in the game at the end if not for him, but that’s not what anyone will remember. And of course, we talk sitting Roy Hibbert a little —…
May 23, 2013, 6:11 PM EDT
Mike Krzyzewski will return as Team USA’s head basketball coach, but he must replace both his NBA assistants. Not only is Mike D’Antoni moving on, so will Nate McMillan, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. McMillian, via Spears: “It was a great experience with Coach K,” McMillan said. “Jerry Colangelo did a great…
May 23, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT
It’s all about the rings. For Phil Jackson — out promoting his book “Eleven Rings” — it’s always been about the hardware. It’s about building a real team around the stars he was given, about managing the egos, about having a team that didn’t seem fazed by the biggest stages. So when Time Magazine asked…
May 23, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT
If the Philadelphia 76ers had beaten the odds and won the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday it would have made new GM Sam Hinkie’s life a little easier. But he would have heard about it on the phone, he wasn’t in New York. And he wasn’t at home in front of his television with a beer,…
May 23, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
The network suits at TNT have to be happy they have the rights to the Eastern Conference finals — they got the Heat and LeBron James to showcase. Indiana may be a small market to go against them (you know the network was pulling for the Knicks last round) but at least they have crossover…
May 23, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT
As the Dwight Howard free agency news cycle rolls on, the latest report has him expanding the list of teams he’ll consider signing with this summer. It’s been previously reported that Howard is most intrigued by the Houston Rockets, thanks in no small part to a young star already in place there in the form…
May 23, 2013, 1:50 PM EDT
Pablo Prigioni reportedly was considering returning to Spain in part because his wife wanted to go back, but the Knicks guard is making intentions clear now. Marc Berman of the New York Post: “If I can choose, I prefer to play in the United States and stay in the NBA,’’ Prigioni said on Argentine radio.…
May 23, 2013, 1:27 PM EDT
Even before the season tipped off you had a pretty good sense that LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul would be All-NBA First Team — they are dominant players at or entering their peak. But Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan continue to defy father time. The two veterans round out the All NBA Team…
May 23, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
520px;”> Phil Jackson has been virtually everywhere the last couple weeks selling his new book “Eleven Rings” but one of my favorite interviews so far is the one from last night with John Stewart on The Daily Show. And not because as a Knicks fan Stewart wants to know about those two rings. It’s near…
May 23, 2013, 11:39 AM EDT
We’ve all done this: After a really difficult project, no matter how rewarding it was, right afterward we say “no way, I’m never doing that again.” Then six months later we look back on it and think “you know, it wasn’t that bad” and talk ourselves into doing it again. That’s Mike Krzyzewski and coaching…
May 23, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
There’s a big risk that comes with draft Nerlens Noel. And not just his torn ACL. Noel played only 24 games last season, and although that’s more than twice as many as Kyrie Irving did his lone season at Duke, it’s still a pretty small sample. I think Noel proved enough to justify becoming the…
May 23, 2013, 11:01 AM EDT
The Wizards rightfully believe they would have made the playoffs if they remained healthy this season. Washington went 24-25 with John Wall – a better winning percentage than the eighth-seeded Bucks (38-44). And when Wall, Nene and Bradley Beal all played, the Wizards were 15-7. Washington should be excited to have a team on the…
May 23, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT
Pacers coach Frank Vogel had his reasoning — the Heat with their small lineup had five guys who can shoot from the perimeter so he wanted to match that with a small lineup that could switch everything. Twice in the last 10.8 seconds he pulled the 7’2” rim-defending center and went small with Tyler Hansbrough…
May 23, 2013, 10:03 AM EDT
It’s good to have the best player on the planet on your team. At the end of the day that was the reason the Miami Heat are up 1-0 — as great as Paul George was for Indiana, the Miami Heat have LeBron James. From the very start LeBron was knocking down jumpers from the…
May 23, 2013, 8:43 AM EDT
LeBron James’ detractors are still plentiful and are still vocal — just follow the conversation on twitter during any Heat game. People will tell you how much they loathe LeBron and everything he stands for. But they are buying his shoes. Forbes Magazine broke down the numbers on domestic signature shoe sales (from sportsonesource.com) and…
May 23, 2013, 2:39 AM EDT
For the 145th time since they joined forces in Miami, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh finished as the Heat’s top three scorers. For the first time in the 2013 calendar year, the fourth-leading scorer – Chris Andersen – scored more than 15 points. It’s been much less of a concern that many expected…
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