Which rookies are ready to do work in the League?
James Anderson | 6-6 | Shooting Guard| San Antonio Spurs
A true shooting guard, Anderson has range and consistency on his jumper. The Spurs have Manu Ginobili ahead of him on the depth chart and other than that there aren’t any other shooting guards on the roster as of now. Anderson will get an opportunity to showcase his game by knocking down shots on the perimeter for the Spurs and should see minutes on a consistent basis.
Ed Davis | 6-9 | Power Forward| Toronto Raptors
A lefty with an aesthetically pleasing game, Davis has a great touch around the rim. The power forward averaged 12.6 points, 6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in Summer League play while shooting 64% from the field. Davis has the size and athleticism to become a big time power forward in this League but he needs to add strength to his frame (hopefully he has this summer), hone his post moves (a lot) and learn to play more with his right hand. Believe it or not, Toronto has a gaping hole in the frontcourt and Davis will have playing time from Day One for a rebuilding Raptors franchise north of the border.
Gordon Hayward | 6-8 | Shooting Guard/Small Forward| Utah Jazz
Notoriously hard on rookies, Jerry Sloan will be no different when dealing with Gordon Hayward. But the Jazz do not have a true back-up small forward as of now and that may ultimately be Hayward’s calling this season. With CJ Miles and Raja Bell looking to split minutes at the shooting guard it looks like Hayward’s best shot is at the small forward position this year behind the Russian AK-47. Although Hayward shot the deep ball at a lower percentage during his sophomore season than as a freshman, look for Hayward to become a lights out shooter from the midrange and eventually become a reliable three-point threat. The form is there but now he has to do is get the repetitions down. Look for Hayward to not only score off the bench but also to make excellent decisions with the ball in his hands.
Greg Monroe | 6-10 | Power Forward| Detroit Pistons
If he isn’t a starter for Detroit basketball on Day One, expect him to be a starter by seasons end. Monroe is an awesome passer both out of the post and from the perimeter, can finish with either hand around the rim with his soft touch and jump hook shot and his midrange jumper has to be improving with the amount of time NBA players practice shooting with specialists. Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Chris Wilcox, Jonas Jerebko and Ben Wallace will be all be battling with Monroe for playing time but Monroe’s unique skill set should earn him quality minutes in his rookie season.
Dominique Jones| 6-5 | Combo Guard| Dallas Mavericks
Watching Jones play in the Summer League in Vegas, it appeared that Jones has a lot of potential to be a solid player in the NBA for years to come. The Mavericks are deep with seasoned guards ahead of him with the likes of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jose Juan Barea, Deshawn Stevenson and the injured Rodrigue Beabois all able contributors. When Jones does get in the game though, expect him to always play hard and get going quickly on offense with the minutes he is given.
Jordan Crawford | 6-4 | Combo Guard| Atlanta Hawks
Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague and Maurice Evans are all ahead of him at the depth chart to start the season but as I’ve stated before Crawford can light it up, and fast. It is going to take very hard work and discipline to move up the depth chart this season but when he gets his chance you can expect him to come out firing. Fans might have a tough time distinguishing between Jamal and Jordan at some points because their shot selection will be similar.
Avery Bradley | 6-2 | Point Guard| Boston Celtics
With just Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Nate Robinson truly ahead of him on the depth chart, Bradley will have a chance to fight for playing time from the get go in Beantown. The quick and fast point guard might not get a ton of minutes this year for an extremely talented Boston Celtics team but his physical style of play and lockdown defense will earn him minutes off the bench and should provide a chance for Rondo and Allen to rest at times. Offensively, Bradley isn’t going to wow you with his repertoire but his midrange pull-up game is advanced, even for the NBA level.
Lance Stephenson | 6-5 | Combo Guard| Indiana Pacers
As a longtime Lance Stephenson fan on the basketball court, I think Stephenson will find a way to log lots of minutes for a Pacers team that has not had any consistency at the point guard position over the past few years. The often injured TJ Ford has been mediocre and their next best option is AJ Price, a second year guard out of UConn. Moreover, Lance can play alongside one of these guards or Dahntay Jones, handle the ball on offense and guard shooting guards on defense because of his size. Stephenson is dynamic when he has the freedom to make plays with the ball in his hands in isolation situations and I believe the NBA game suits his style very well. Character questions pushed Stephenson to the second round but look for Stephenson to prove people wrong.
Hassan Whiteside | 7-0| Center| Sacramento Kings
Whiteside is far from a polished product at any point in his game, besides blocking shots, that is. Whiteside can change the game inside by being a menace to smaller players around the rim, using his excellent timing to deflate the ball on its way to the rim. Whiteside showed great energy during the Summer League in Vegas; he ran the floor very well and got his hands on a ton of loose balls around the rim. Whiteside needs to work on post moves and ways to score around the rim but the hustle in his game is very solid at this stage in his development.
Damion James | 6-7 | Small Forward| New Jersey Nets
The small forward out of Texas was drafted 24th by the Atlanta Hawks and traded to the Nets. An amazing hustle guy, James is around every loose ball and corrals rebounds very well for a small forward. The Nets signed Travis Outlaw to a $35 million deal (WHAT!?!?) this summer so he’s clearly their primary guy but look for James to get some hustle minutes off the bench this season.
Tiago Splitter | 7-0 | Power Forward/Center| San Antonio Spurs
Although he is 25, the Brazilian will be a rookie in the NBA. Primarily a threat in the low block thanks to his ability to establish deep position, great hands and touch and jump hook game, Splitter should come in and provide the Spurs with a much needed lift inside on the offensive end and should complement Tim Duncan well. Defensively, Splitter has great size, length and mobility that he uses to hedge on screens effectively on the perimeter. Should be very interesting to see just how well he fits in the NBA game after playing in Europe for several years.
Elliott Williams | 6-4 | Point Guard| Portland Trailblazers
Drafted 22nd out of Memphis, the southpaw Williams has blazing quickness with the ball in his hands. He is capable of being a very good defender, as he has long arms, great hands and quickness for his position. Williams needs to improve his shooting, as most everybody does, but look for Williams to push the envelope and almost force Nate McMillan to play him at times. He is more talented than he got credit for coming out of Memphis.
Eric Bledsoe | 6-1 | Point Guard| Los Angeles Clippers
Bledsoe played on the ball and off the ball in college alongside phenom John Wall but in the NBA he will have to become a better ball-handler and passer to earn his playing time. Bledsoe has an advanced offensive repertoire for a player his age as he is adept at exploding to the hole with his quickness and power or shooting the long range shot. Look for Bledsoe to take some lumps this season but also to improve his decision making and ability to run the show as the year goes on.
Daniel Orton | 6-10 | Power Forward| Orlando Magic
Orton will barely see the court this year in game time situations. The Magic have a deep and talented frontcourt with Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat, Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson, not to mention that they often play Rashard Lewis at the 4-spot. Kentucky is going to seem a world away for Mr. Orton. The key for him will be to learn and get better for the future and not think about playing time.
Jeremy Lin | 6-2 | Point Guard| Golden State Warriors
The first Asian American to make an NBA roster since 1947 and just the fourth ever player to ever sign an NBA contract after attending the prestigious Harvard University, Lin has already made history even before he makes his debut on the court in Golden State. Stephon Curry, Monta Ellis, Charlie Bell and Jannero Pargo are ahead of him on the depth chart for sure but whether Lin gets 30 seconds a game or 30 minutes a game, the crowd is going to love him regardless. A smart playmaker who is excellent at reading pick-and-roll situations, Lin will be one of the Leagues most lovable bench players.
Devin Ebanks/Derrick Caracter | 6-9 | Small Forward/Power Forward| Los Angeles Lakers
Assuming the Lakers sign their 43rd and 58th picks in this years Draft, Ebanks and Caracter are guys who have tremendous upside. Sure, the Lakers already have lots of length up front but Ebanks and Caracter are young and if signed, will learn a lot under the tutelage of guy like Lamar Odom, Ron Artest Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. They might not get a lot of playing time playing for the defending World Champions but their experience for the Lakers could put them in a much better place than lots of other rookies who are starting out in this League.