Mar 21, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart (33) shoots between Gonzaga Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski (24) and guard David Stockton (11) in the first half of a men

NBA Rookies Who Will Have Impact Seasons in 2014-15

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While this years draft class is certainly one of the deepest, there are those that will make an impact more than others. This list doesn’t have to do with who the best players are, it can be system related (more opportunities, better fit). An example of this was seen last year with Tim Hardaway Jr, who was the 24th pick in the draft, but played more than most selected in front of him and he averaged 10.2 points. (Prediction on three pointers made is based on assuming players play all 82 games) (Joel Embiid not on list as it is likely he will miss heavy portion of rookie year)

Nerlens Noel- People forget that Nerlens Noel is a rookie, due to not playing last season (knee surgery). Noel has looked sharp thus far in the Summer League, averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2.3 steals in three contests. In the games, shooting just over six free throws per game, he has made 79% of his shots (an encouraging sign), as he shot 53% in college. Noel will be a lock down defender from day one and will certainly be an inconsistent scorer but he will get big minutes from day one and succeed.

Prediction: 11.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 steals, 2.3 blocks, 30 mpg (53% fg 65% ft, zero threes)

 

Jabari Parker- Jabari Parker is certainly the sure bet of the draft class this year and he will show why from day one. A combination of heavy usage (most for any rookie) and talent will translate into him having a stellar season. Parker will likely be the Bucks go to guy and will have some big games, despite his defensive deficiencies.

Prediction: 18.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.7 blocks, 34 mpg (46% fg 77%ft, 84 threes)

 

Andrew Wiggins- Like Nerlens Noel, Wiggins has a real shot of being an excellent defender as he possesses elite athleticism and size. Wiggins will have a good opportunity to shine, but not as much as Parker, who will be the best player on his team. Wiggins will likely be the third option (depending if LeBron comes back) on an average Cavalier team.

Prediction: 15.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 31.3 mpg (45% fg 78% ft, 80 threes)

 

Dante Exum- The Aussie combo guard is certainly the “mystery man” of the draft as he played overseas. Exum is likely to start at shooting guard but will be on the ball on offense a ton as Trey Burke is a good shooter. Exum has the size (6’6″) and skill to contribute as a rookie.

Prediction: 13.3 points, 4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks, 28.3 mpg (44% fg 74% ft, 71 threes)

 

Aaron Gordon- Aaron Gordon, like a few other rookies (Nerlens Noel and Andrew Wiggins), will make an immediate impact defensively. Gordon’s offense will come in time, but solid playing time and his motor will lead to having some solid scoring outputs.

Prediction: 10.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks, 26 mpg (52% fg 53% ft, 17 threes)

 

Marcus Smart- Unlike most players on this list, Marcus Smart might not start as the Celtics have Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. This doesn’t mean that Smart won’t play a lot as he will likely eat up the back-up guard minutes as he has the ability to play both guard spots. Smart is a terrific defender, but offensively he will be  inconsistent.

Prediction: 11.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, 27.4 mpg (41% fg 75% ft, 78 threes)

 

Julius Randle- Julius Randle’s minutes will surely depend on the moves the Los Angeles Lakers make in free agency, but it seems more likely that he will be a starter. Randle is an excellent rebounder and has the ability to finish around the basket, which will translate from day one.

Prediction: 13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks, 28.7 minutes (49% fg 71% ft, 4 threes)

 

Elfrid Payton- Elfrid Payton will likely start from day one, while Victor Oladipo starts at shooting guard. Payton is a lock down defender and rebounds at a high rate for a guard. Like Rajon Rondo, Payton struggles to make free throws and shoot the three.

Prediction: 10.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, 30.6 minutes (46% fg 60% ft, 20 threes)

 

T.J. Warren- T.J. Warren finds a way to just get buckets. Warren is excellent inside of 20 feet, but is also improving his range. Warren is an average defender and can rebound well. Expect Warren to get solid playing time and he will do well as he will not be facing double teams like he did in college.

Prediction: 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1 steal, 23.6 minutes (47% fg 71%ft, 62 threes)

 

P.J. Hairston- P.J. Hairston is an NBA ready scorer as he showed in the D-League last season (21.8 ppg). Hairston will also be ready to defend as he is as strong as any guard in the draft. The only problem with Hairston is that he can rely on the three a bit too much (Charlotte might not mind). Expect Hairston to have a year similar to Tim Hardaway Jr last season.

Prediction: 10.7 points, 3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.2 steals, 22.8 mpg (43% fg 84% ft, 135 threes)

 

Honorable Mentions

Shabazz Napier: 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.2 steals, 25.8 mpg (42% fg 85%ft, 132 threes)

Doug McDermott: 10.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.4 steals, 22 mpg (47% fg 86% ft, 118 threes)

Nik Stauskas: 11.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 steals, 23.8 mpg (44% fg 83% ft, 145 threes)

Rodney Hood: 8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.6 steals, 19.8 mpg (45% fg 79% ft, 110 threes)

Adreian Payne: 9.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.8 blocks, 0.4 steals, 22.2 mpg (47% fg 77% ft, 98 threes)

Noah Vonleh: 8.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, 0.7 steals, 21.8 mpg (49% fg 72% ft, 38 threes)

 

 

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