If being a rookie was tough in a regular season setting, imagine playing in this year's back-to-back-to-back, road-trip after road-trip, bang bang shortened NBA season. In a rookie pool that many analysts declared as relatively weak, some interesting prospects have proven those analysts wrong, and some have verified their suspicions. Let's check out this year's studs and duds so far.
MarShon Brooks SG, New Jersey Nets
After seeing MarShon Brooks play for Providence last year, you could tell he was an NBA scorer. Brooks was great off the dribble, good from deep and had a nasty swagger about his game. When watching the draft, I couldn't believe that Brooks had dropped all the way to 25th. Alongside Deron Williams, Brooks has some of the best numbers among rookies with 14.8 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game and is shooting 46 % from the field. As the Nets continue to find an identity, I would speculate MarShon will be a piece of the puzzle as they look toward the future
Ricky Rubio PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rubio is red hot in a place he once called, "too cold." Kevin Love and Rubio have teamed up to bring basketball back to Minnesota, a state which seemed to have fallen out of love with the sport since the organization traded KG in '07. During his short stay in Minnesota he has garnered solid number and holds a more than impressive +17.68 Efficiency rating. Not to mention, the kid is an absolute human highlight reel. Rubio finds himself alongside a young core of solid players in Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson and superstar Kevin Love. Look for the Wolves to not only be in the playoff hunt this year, but for years to come. Rubio will be a big part of this success.
Kemba Walker PG, Charlotte Bobcats
The spark plug out of UConn has stepped up big after rising star, and fellow point guard, D.J. Augustin sustained a debilitating toe injury. Thrust into the starting lineup early on Walker has been able to maintain a solid 11.16 Efficiency rating. The guy is known for his late game dramatics, and no further did he go then in his NBA debut to prove that he's the guy who is going to have the ball down the stretch.
Isaiah Thomas PG, Sacramento Kings
Standing at 5"9', ex-Washington Husky Isaiah Thomas was not taken in the first round. In fact, Thomas was taken 60th overall. For you counting at home that would mean he was picked last. Every draft there is a player that was overlooked and taken in the second round that turns out to be a diamond in the rough. Rarely is this player the last taken. Thomas can rip it from deep, as well as get to the tin. He averages 7.3 points off the bench, and posted a career high of 17 against New Orleans. He is truly outshining fellow rookie Jimmer Fredette, selected 7th overall. (see duds).Thomas will have a nice NBA career in the mold of fellow short guy, Earl Boykins.
Kyrie Irving PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
The number one overall pick, Kyrie Irving, is my Rookie of the year right now. The guy can flat out ball and has it all: Range, handles, not to mention he's clutch. I love his game. Not only can he score, which he does at 18 points per outing, he dishes the rock, averaging 5 assists. Irving has led the team to a 9-14 record, which at first glance may not seem impressive, but this is coming from a team whose starting lineup consists of Omri Casspi, Alonzo Gee, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao. Without Irving, I don't think this team would have won a game by now. I hope he can avoid that injury bug that he had in college, because I think this guy is going to be special.
Enes Kanter C, Utah Jazz
After being ruled ineligible to play for John Calipari at the University of Kentucky last year, Kanter came into the 2011 draft as the biggest question mark. After the Jazz found themselves 3rd in the draft order, they couldn't pass on "The Big Turkey." Kanter has proven that he does have a nose for rebounding, averaging about 5 boards in 15 minutes of play and has also shown tough D on good players. But Kanter looks utterly lost on the offensive end of the floor. Like, Amelia Earhart lost. He possesses no offensive post game, misses easy layups and often gets muddled up by help down defenders.
Jimmer Fredette PG/SG
I can't seem to figure out the Jimmer. The guy has been doing what paid the bills at BYU, that being knocking down a few triples a game, but without getting a bunch of shots like he did in college he hasn't been the efficient scorer the Kings had hoped he would be. Not to mention his defense is worse than advertised. Jimmer is sitting with the duds right now because of my high expectations of him early on in the season. Also, Jimmer may not be the clutch NBA shooter Sac-Town had hoped for either, air balling a game tying three when he returned to Jimmerland, also known as Utah.
Jan Vesely SF, Washington Wizards
There's not much to say about the 6th overall pick. He's absolutely irrelevant. He averages a meager 2.3 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game, and less than 1 assist. His irrelevance is increased two fold due to the fact that he plays for the Washington Wizards.Czech him off your list of future NBA All-Stars.
Iman Shumpert PG/ SG, New York Knicks
Don't let the numbers fool you. Although Shumpert boasts rookie averages of 9.9 points per game, 3.7 rebounds a game and 3.7 assists, Shumpert plays 31 minutes per game and shoots a miserable 33 % from the field. The dude shot 13 times in 22 minutes in his first NBA game. Granted, Shumpert brings some athletic prowess and solid D to the table, he shoots way too much and is a volume player. The Knicks are thin at the guard position and Shumpert has exploited that. Now that "Lin-Sanity" has hit New York, expect Shumpert's minutes and numbers to decrease.
Bismack Biyombo F, Charlotte Bobcats
Biyombo, the Danny Almonte of the NBA, has yet to impress after his HUGE performance at the Nike Hoop Summit in 2011. Biyombo is a physical specimen, toting a 7'6" wingspan. But what Biyombo has in size, he lacks in basketball IQ and awareness. For being the 7th overall pick, Biyombo has yet to impress head coach Paul Silas with only 13 minutes per game for a floundering Bobcats squad.
Alec Burks SG, Utah Jazz
Many analysts predicted that Burks would possibly be the steal of the draft (myself included). Burks was considered the best slasher/scorer combo in the draft, and was seen as a player who was waiting to explode. In limited playing time Burks has shown flashes of brilliance, but is not quite the scorer he was hyped up to be. After claiming his three point shooting was not a liability, Burks has gone just 33 % from behind the arc, letting actions speak louder than words.