Even though the general consensus on the 2013 NBA draft is that is was a “down” year for talent, the NBA will still honor five players with All-Rookie First Team recognition upon the completion of next season. Lottery picks Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter Jr., Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Ben McLemore and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are among the players with the best chances of being recognized.
Playing time, health and immediate impact are the three main criteria when considering the top candidates for next season’s All-Rookie First Team.
The players with the best chances of being named on of the league’s top rookies are ones who can start (or play significant minutes) for their new teams, who are not battling serious injuries, who performed well in the summer leagues and who have skills that are immediately transferable to the next level.
Here are the top 25 candidates for the 2013-14 All-Rookie First Team.
25. Ryan Kelly
Former Duke forward Ryan Kelly is destined to be a stretch-forward in the NBA. At 6’11”, he has the size to body up with most players in the league, but he also has great outside shooting ability.
As a senior, he averaged 13 points and five rebounds per game. He shot 42 percent from behind the arc. Kelly has the ability to have a big scoring night when he gets hot, as he did when he scored 36 points on 7-of-9 shooting from three-point range against Miami last season.
Ryan Kelly…Put him on a cereal box.
—Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 3, 2013
With the aging Laker core and the departure of Metta World Peace, Kelly could be a solid scorer off the Los Angeles bench next season.
24. Trey Burke
Trey Burke, who dazzled in last season’s NCAA tournament, is low on this list after a disappointing Summer League performance.
Via Sean Deveney of Sporting News, who gave Burke an F for his play: “Burke struggled badly this summer, scoring 8.8 points and averaging just 4.0 assists against 2.3 turnovers. He shot 24.1 percent from the field and was an unsightly 1-for-19 from the 3-point line.”
23. Peyton Siva
For being one of the final picks of the 2013 NBA draft, Peyton Siva performed beyond his draft position in the summer league. Siva averaged nearly eight points, six assists and three steals per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio was 4-to-1.
Despite his college resume and solid showing in the summer, Siva is not a lock to make Detroit’s roster. The Pistons also have Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey to play the point.
Even though Siva is only 6’0″, he is very quick with the ball, which makes it difficult for defenders to stay in front of him.
(Siva) scares some scouts because he can be careless with the ball. But he’s not afraid of the bright lights and the big stage.
—rickbozich (@rickbozich) June 27, 2013
The Pistons have a variety of scoring options (Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith) for their point guards to pass to, so Siva could end of being one of the steals of the draft.
22. Allen Crabbe
The Portland Trail Blazers drafted Allen Crabbe at the tail end of the first round after the California guard posted numbers of 18.4 points on 46 percent shooting and 6.1 rebounds per game in his junior season.
Portland has a roster full of young shooting guards, which means that Crabbe may have to wait his turn before he can regularly be in the Trail Blazers rotation. Portland also has Will Barton, Terrel Harris, Wesley Matthews, C.J. McCollum and Elliot Williams in the mix for playing time at the 2.
21. Tony Snell
Unfortunately for Tony Snell, the Chicago Bulls have two players, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler, who can start at small forward. Deng proved to be injury prone down the stretch of the season, which means that Snell could be his backup if Butler starts at shooting guard.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweeted that Snell can be successful in Chicago.
Tony Snell has all the requisites to be a solid piece under Tom Thibodeau. Can guard multiple positions + make 3’s. Solid pick at 20.
—Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 28, 2013
20. Gorgui Dieng
Gorgui Dieng is a “project” player who could contribute immediately for the Minnesota Timberwolves with their rebounding and defense. He averaged nearly a double-double in points and rebounds at Louisville. On offense, Dieng shot 53 percent.
If Minnesota re-signs Nikola Pekovic, then Dieng will definitely be a part of the T-Wolves’ second team.
Dieng could come off the bench to replace Pekovic or Kevin Love and help protect the rim for Minnesota.
The most points he scored in a summer league game was 10 and he was limited on the boards. It will take time, but Dieng could be a valuable frontcourt player off the bench for the T-Wolves.
19. Ricky Ledo
Ricky Ledo is one of the biggest question marks from the 2013 draft because he never played in college.
According to Bryan Gutierrez of ESPN Dallas, Ledo is “considered to have big upside.”
There is a reason he was available in the second round. He never played for Providence. After moving from high school to high school, the guard sat out his freshman year as a partial academic qualifier before declaring for this year’s draft.
The 6’7″ shooting guard could be in the mix at the 2-guard for the Mavericks this season. However, he will have to come off the bench, and the most likely scenario for him is to be Dallas’ third-string shooting guard. Monta Ellis, Wayne Ellington and Vince Carter are the leading off-guard options for the Mavs.
18. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is buried on the Bucks depth chart right now, according to ESPN.
The shooting guard won’t see much time behind new Milwaukee Bucks—but established NBA veterans—O.J. Mayo and Gary Neal.
17. Rudy Gobert
The Utah Jazz have only two centers on their 2013-14 roster, one of whom, Enes Kanter, averaged only seven points and four rebounds per game last season.
That means Rudy Gobert could contend to be a starter or a key player off the bench.
Rudy Gobert with a 25 inch standing vertical and a 29″ max vert. Not great numbers.
—Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 17, 2013
Rudy Gobert 7’0.5″ in socks and 7’2″ in shoes with a crazy 7’8.5″ wingspan and insane 9’7″ standing reach.
—Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 17, 2013
Gobert made nearly 74 percent of his shots last season but he clearly needs to refine his game after averaging only eight points and five rebounds per game.
Gobert’s greatest contributions this season may be altering shots and keeping opposing players out of the paint, which won’t be reflected by his stats, but he can be an immediate contributor for Utah this season based on his size.
16. Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel‘s health and weight are looming issues for his success in the NBA but he has the makings to potentially be a very good rim protector at the pro level.
An Associated Press article from Noel’s introductory press conference in Philadelphia reported that Noel may not play until 2014, which would all but ruin his chances of earning any rookie honors.
Noel weighed barely over 200 pounds at the combine but is now approaching 230 pounds, which is a much more realistic playing weight for an NBA big man.
Noel nearly averaged a double-double at Kentucky and blocked as many as 12 shots in a single game. When healthy, he can be similar to Larry Sanders—an athletic rim protector who grabs rebounds and also contributes some on offense.
Noel is a different breed of center than Spencer Hawes, who is a capable outside shooter, which means both players could be on the court at the same time for Philadelphia and it wouldn’t ruin the team’s offensive spacing.
15. Jamaal Franklin
The Memphis Grizzlies have two shooting guards on their roster and their starter, All-NBA First Team defender is known more for his defensive prowess than his shooting. Allen plays an important defensive role for Memphis, which means Franklin could be very valuable if he proves to be a better offensive player.
Recently signed forward Mike Miller will also be an option for the shooting guard spot for Memphis, but Miller is a one-dimensional spot-up shooter.
In his junior year at San Diego State, Franklin averaged 17 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game.
He needs to improve on his shooting if he is going to play a prominent role for the Grizzlies. He shot just 41 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point range last season.
14. Steven Adams
Steven Adams joins an Oklahoma City squad that has three centers, Kendrick Perkins, Daniel Orton and Hasheem Thabeet, but none of them are offensive weapons. Adams only averaged seven points per game at Pittsburgh but if he can develop an offensive game then he immediately becomes very valuable for the Thunder.
He scored in double figures only six times in his freshman season, which means that he has a long way to go to develop a consistent offensive prowess.
Adams is considered to be a “project” player and with four centers on the Thunder’s roster, Adams’ production could very well be minimal next season.
With two All-Stars in OKC’s starting lineup, the focus won’t be on Adams, and he won’t be expected to put up big numbers from the start of the season.
Low expectations could be beneficial to his development.
13. Tim Hardaway Jr.
J.R. Smith was named the Sixth Man of the Year last season but fell apart in theplayoffs, where he made only 33 percent of his shots. Smith was also suspended for one game for elbowing Boston’s Jason Terry in the chin.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is the only other shooting guard on the Knicks roster. Whether the former Michigan standout starts or is Smith’s backup, Hardaway should get a good amount of playing time. Smith has proven to be just as much of a risk as he is a contributor, which is why Hardaway could get an opportunity to contribute to New York’s offense.
Great pick by the Knicks…Tim Hardaway JR doesn’t take a drill off in practice much less games . issue is he’s 2 hard on himself..good issue
— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) June 28, 2013
Hardaway averaged 14.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a junior. If he improves his shooting, Hardaway will be in the Knicks rotation.
12. Jeff Withey
Jeff Withey was overshadowed in the draft by the likes of Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Cody Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, but he could prove to be as good a pro as any of them.
As a senior, Withey averaged 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and just under four blocks per game. He was also a 58 percent shooter.
Withey was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers then dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans have just two centers on their roster, so Withey could possibly contend for a starting role. He would only have to beat out Greg Stiemsma, who has averaged three points and three rebounds per game in his NBA career.
The Pelicans have talented guards in Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans. Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson are productive power forwards. Withey can be an immediate contributor as a defender and rebounder. He wouldn’t have to carry a major load offensively, but he is a very efficient player when he does have the ball.
For a guy selected with the No. 39 pick, Withey is a high-value prospect for New Orleans.
11. Michael Carter-Williams
The Philadelphia 76ers are rebuilding and Michael Carter-Williams is currently the only point guard listed on their depth chart on ESPN.
Carter-Williams could be the starter for the Sixers next season, and by playing that many minutes, MCW could potentially put up big numbers.
However, The former Syracuse point guard will be limited by the rest of Philadelphia’s roster. Jason Richardson could potentially miss the entire season with a knee injury, and Nerlens Noel will miss the beginning of the season.
Carter-Williams played very little in his freshman year with Syracuse and skyrocketed up draft boards after his sophomore season. There are concerns on both ends of the floor about Carter-Williams—he played in a 2-3 zone defense at Syracuse, and he shot only 39 percent last season.
Those concerns about his shooting only intensified after he was drafted; he shot just 27 percent in the summer league.
However, as a playmaker at Syracuse, he distributed the ball well, averaging 7.3 assists per game last season, and at 6’6″ he will have a size advantage against opposing point guards.
Success for Carter-Williams will most likely depend on how many minutes he plays, but he could be in store for a rough start to his NBA career in Philadelphia.
10. Dennis Schroeder
Some observers compare German point guard Dennis Schroeder to Rajon Rondo.
Schroeder compared to Rajon Rondo, which means Atlanta won’t be trading the pick to the Clippers.
— rickbozich (@rickbozich) June 28, 2013
And CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein sees a bit of Darren Collison:
Loved Dennis Schroeder in Hoops Summit. Has some Darren Collison to his game. Great pick for the Hawks.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 28, 2013
The 19-year-old will have to compete with Jeff Teague and Shelvin Mack for playing time, but if he gets on the court for the Hawks and lives up to the hype, he could be one of the best point guards from the 2013 draft.
Schroeder will have scorers around him in Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap. In the summer league, he averaged nearly 11 points and six assists per game but shot just 34 percent from the floor. His shooting will need to improve, but he has the tools to be successful in the NBA.
9. C.J. McCollum
The Portland Trail Blazers have many guard options for next season. C.J. McCollum is in the mix with Damian Lillard, Earl Watson, Terrel Harris, Mo Williams, Wesley Matthews and Allen Crabbe. Lillard was the NBA Rookie of the Year last season, and Williams brings a lot of experience to the point guard position.
That means that McCollum may need to adapt to a role as a combo guard.
Based on his college stats (23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game as a senior), McCollum can play. Watch any interview with him and it’s obvious that he is very thoughtful and intelligent.
The Canton, Ohio native can be successful in the NBA. His early development will be contingent on how much playing time he can get since Portland has a nunber of guards, especially talented point guards.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweeted that McCollum will be a scorer off the bench for the Trail Blazers, which isn’t a bad role to be in for a rookie.
C.J. McCollum gives Portland a reserve scorer. Should be an asset to the Blazers second unit.
—Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 28, 2013
8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope likes to shoot.
He won the SEC Player of the Year Award by carrying Georgia offensively last season. As a sophomore, KCP averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game and made 43 percent of his shots, including 37 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. Last year, Caldwell-Pope attempted 207 more shots than his teammate with the second-most attempts.
While the 6’5″ shooting guard will need to work on his shot selection and offensive efficiency, he could still be immediately effective in terms of spreading the floor for Detroit. The Pistons have a pair of talented players in the frontcourt in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. With Brandon Jennings running the offense and Josh Smith getting his share of touches at forward, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can complement the pieces already in place on the Pistons.
At Georgia, Caldwell-Pope averaged nearly 20 points per game, even though opposing teams knew that he was the Bulldogs’ only real scoring option. With Detroit, defenses will focus on Jennings and the Pistons’ frontcourt, which means an aggressive wing shooter like Caldwell-Pope is likely to get plenty of scoring opportunities.
7. Otto Porter Jr.
Porter averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He shot 48 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc.
According to Draft Express, Porter is nearly 6’9″ and has a wingspan longer than 7’1″. And he’s versatile on both ends of the court.
Washington has a very talented backcourt with John Wall and Bradley Beal, which will take some of the pressure off of Porter.
The former Georgetown forward will be part of a young core for the Wizards. Expect Porter to contribute enough in various facets of the game that he makes an impact for Washington next season.
6. Alex Len
The Phoenix Suns only have two centers on their roster, one of whom is rookie Alex Len. Len averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Maryland.
The 7’1″ center has recently undergone surgeries on both ankles, which could put his jeopardize his timetable, according to NBC Sports’ Brett Pollakoff.
Due to his injuries, Len did not participate in the NBA summer league.
While Len is at a disadvantage because of surgeries and missed summer league action, he still proved his worth against other NBA prospects last season. He scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Nerlens Noel, and he nearly averaged a double-double against Mason Plumlee in Maryland’s three games against Duke.
There are several talented centers in this year’s rookie class, and each comes with his own health issues or questions about his talent level. But, if healthy Len should be among the best from June’s draft.
5. Kelly Olynyk
The Boston Celtics are clearly rebuilding, which was evident by their deals with the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets this offseason. Boston has four centers on its roster who have played a combined six minutes in the NBA. In other words, the starting center position is up for grabs.
Kelly Olynyk, who was drafted 13th by the Celtics, was ranked the number one player in NBA.com’s rookie ladder based on his play in the summer league. He averaged 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Olynyk shot nearly 58 percent from the field.
Wow, Mavericks. Wow, Boston. Great. Pick. If Kelly Olynyk were French and had some grainy YouTube footage, he would have been a top-10 pick.
—Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) June 28, 2013
Olynyk is no stranger to putting up big numbers. In his junior year at Gonzaga, he averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He shot 63 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc.
There is a very good chance that Olynyk will start for the Celtics, and he will have lots of opportunities to score playing alongside Rajon Rondo.
4. Anthony Bennett
Anthony Bennett was a bit of a shocker to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, especially after Nerlens Noel and Alex Len dominated the conversation in the weeks leading up to the draft.
Been through a bunch of drafts. This is one of the weirdest. Anthony Bennett? Really?
—Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) June 28, 2013
Bennett has an NBA body and his 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season indicate that he is ready for the next level.
However, due to the talent on Cleveland’s roster—Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack and Anderson Varejao—Bennett won’t be featured as much as he would on a worse team.
While Bennett’s natural position is power forward, his 6’8″ size and the defensive struggles he had in summer play will present challenges for him as he attempts to find his role on the Cavs this season.
3. Cody Zeller
Even though Charlotte Bobcats fans were not too pleased about the team drafting Cody Zeller with the fourth overall pick in the NBA draft, the former Hoosier could very easily end up winning over their hearts.
NBA.com’s Drew Packham ranked Zeller second on his “Rookie Ladder,” a scale which rates how rookies perform in the NBA summer league.
The 7-footer averaged 16.3 points on 52 percent shooting and 9.3 rebounds per game this summer. Zeller could potentially start at power forward alongside Al Jefferson or he’ll be one of the leaders of Charlotte’s second team.
Even though he played center in college, Zeller is a great athlete who can run the floor. ESPN’s Chad Ford reported that Zeller had the fastest sprint at the combine among bigs.
Cody Zeller with the fastest sprint time among bigs 3.15 sec
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 17, 2013
Cody Zeller tied Joakim Noah for the highest max vertical jump by a 7-footer (in shoes) in the last 10 NBA Draft Combines.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2013
It also doesn’t hurt that he will be coached by one of the game’s all-time great big men, Patrick Ewing.
With Charlotte’s weak roster, Zeller can play and potentially put up big numbers immediately.
2. Ben McLemore
For those reasons, he will have a lot of opportunity to play significant minutes in his rookie campaign.
He scored at least 26 points on two occasions during the summer league. While his consistency was an issue last season and again this summer, McLemore has proven to be a tremendous athlete and a great scorer when he’s at his best.
McLemore had his share of poor shooting performances in college, but he also showed that he can go off for 30 points when he gets hot.
He is potentially the best scorer in the 2013-14 rookie class.
1. Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo was named to the Southwest Airlines All-Summer League First Team after averaging 19.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. The former Indiana University guard was 7-for-13 from behind the arc and 33-for-40 from the charity stripe.
The Magic tested the No. 2 overall draft pick at point guard in the summer league, but he will be successful no matter which position he plays when the regular season rolls around. As his college coach, Tom Crean, mentioned on Twitter, Oladipo entered college ranked as the 144th best prospect in his class yet ended up as the second overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft.
Victor Oladipo led Orlando Summer League in isolation points (21). He was the only player w/ 10 iso plays to score more than 1 pt per play.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 12, 2013
Victor Oladipo allowed fewest points per play as on-ball defender in Orlando Summer League (min. 25 plays). Allowed 0.53 PPP, 28.6 FG pct.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 12, 2013
Oladipo can potentially start for Orlando next season, and he is ready to contribute immediately on both ends of the floor at a high level. Oladipo’s chances of making the All-Rookie First Team increased because he will likely play at both guard positions instead of being limited to one role.
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