NBA 2012: Top 10 impact rookies

Anthony Davis

The 2012 NBA season is about a month and a half away, but it’s never too early to start making predictions. Here are my top ten impact rookies this year.

  1.  Anthony Davis/Austin Rivers- New Orleans Hornets- I’m going to have to group these two together. Even though Davis was taken as the number one overall pick and Rivers was 10 both of them will come in and change the face of the franchise from day one. If they continue to grow and mature this could turn into one of the most dynamic duos since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil
  2.  Thomas Robinson- Sacramento Kings- With the fifth pick overall in the draft, it was surprising T-Rob was still on the board. No one in this class plays the game with more heart and energy on both sides of the floor. He’s a natural born leader, and even though his measurable might not be ideal for his position in the pro game, I expect him to be a solid 20-15 guy right away.
  3.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist- Charlotte Bobcats- He’s the most NBA ready physically out of anyone in this class. The Bobcats are severely lacking talent right now, so Gilchrist will be expected to start right away. Might turn out to be the best individual player in this draft, but needs to work on his jump-shot and ball-handling in order to reach his full potential.
  4.  Harrison Barnes- Golden State Warriors- I wasn’t too surprised to see him slip to number seven in the draft, but I will be surprised if he doesn’t end up one of the top five players in this draft. His complacent nature is a bit worrying, but he does have talent around him at Golden State to spark his interest. This fast paced, free shooting team might be the best case scenario for Barnes.
  5.  Kendall Marshall- Phoenix Suns- He wasn’t a sexy pick for Phoenix at 13 while Steve Nash was still on the roster, but now that he’s gone it looks like Phoenix drafted their point guard of the present and future. As far as impacts go, being a team’s floor general as a rookie is about as impactful as it gets. I just hope Marshall’s funky shot, and the fact that he needs 10 feet of space to make a field goal won’t drive him and his magnificent vision to the bench     
  6.  Bradley Beal- Washington Wizards- The number three pick in the draft is a little overrated in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have an impact. His locker room presence and intelligence alone are enough to help this team. On the court he possesses unlimited shooting range and impressive speed, but he was in a guard- by- committee system at Florida, so we’ve only seen him as a role player. He will presumably be asked to be more in Washington.
  7. Damian Lillard- Portland Trail Blazers- I wasn’t overly impressed with Portland’s draft but they did assess a couple of needs. Lillard and their other first round pick, Meyers Leonard, shot up the draft board during the evaluation process. Both of them are explosive talents, but I think Lillard will make more of an impact this year. Especially if he wins the starting point guard position.
  8. Jeremy Lamb- Houston Rockets- For a team that had three first round picks, and a glaring need at center I was amazed they didn’t pick Tyler Zeller. They will play some three guard sets with the way their team is set up, and Lamb is one of the silkiest shooters in the NBA. He is versatile, which allows him to play the 1, 2, or 3 positions. Even though he’s not the center they needed Houston did take the best player available with the 12th pick.
  9. Dion Waiters- Cleveland Cavaliers- I absolutely hated the pick at number four, but there’s no denying Waiters’ talent. He was the sixth man at Syracuse, and while he did have some impressive stretches, he just hadn’t shown me enough to warrant this high of a selection. If he is able to mature and accept a larger role he has the perfect combination of power and shooting ability, but there are a lot of question marks here.
  10.  Perry Jones- Oklahoma City Thunder- The rich got richer. At 28 this was the biggest steal in the draft. His disappointing college career led teams to scare away from him at the lottery level, but how he fell this far is amazing to me. If he can focus and realize his immense potential he realistically has the chance to be the best player in this draft. With the talent surrounding him here he might have to wait his turn, or play a smaller role this year, but a line-up featuring Westbrook, Durant, Harden, Jones, and Ibaka is fun to imagine