NBA Roundtable

Rookie Expectations

In General NBA on October 9, 2009 at 11:06 am

For those that haven’t read the blog in the past – some information — I don’t watch college basketball so this is based entirely on what I have read/heard about the players over the past few months and from what I have seen during some of the summer league games I managed to watch during the summer.

Okay, so, the following are my expectations for each of the rookies taken in the first round as we head into the regular season. It’ll give you an idea of how much I expect each player to contribute to their team.

#1 — Blake Griffin

A near All-Star caliber season that sees Blake Griffin put up 18-21 points and grab 9-10 rebounds while being the best or second best player (depending on Baron’s performance) on the Clippers roster.

#2 — Hasheem Thabeet

I reckon Marc Gasol is comfortably ahead of Thabeet in the Grizzlies’ rotation. Therefore, I expect Thabeet to be the backup center, and to play only around 17-22 minutes a night.

I’m expecting good, but not great, defense from Thabeet … combined with good rebounding … and efficient/effective garbage man offense.

A solid player and good role player.

#3 — James Harden

I think Harden has a great chance at winning that starting two guard position, and of playing 30-34 minutes a night. He’ll have some tough competition with Thabo Sefolosha and isn’t a certainty to start, but he does have a very good chance at claiming the spot.

If Harden does play those type of minutes, I’m thinking around 14-15 points per game while adding four rebounds and 3.5-4.5 assists. Plus decent-to-solid defense.

#4 — Tyreke Evans

Somewhat similar to what Russell Westbrook gave the Thunder last season. A lot of the same problems with decision making, turnovers, over-handling the ball, a weak jump shot, and inefficient scoring. I also think he’ll be a great rebounder for a point guard, like Westbrook was.

In terms of differences, I think Tyreke is a better scorer and will score in the 17-19 points per game range rather than the 15 points Westbrook put in. And also defensively, Westbrook was a good-to-very good defensive player as a rookie. I haven’t seen enough of Evans defensively, well against talented offensive players, to get a good read on what he can do there … so that’s a complete unknown for me. He might be a good defender, he might be a lousy one, I’ll have to wait and see.

I don’t think Evans will have any problems claiming the starting point guard minutes and I expect him to be one of the Kings featured players (lot of touches/shots).

Statistically, I’m thinking of 17-19 points per game, 5-6 rebounds, 3.5-to-5 assists, while posting a poor-to-very poor TS% and being amongst the league leaders in turnovers.

#5 — Ricky Rubio

Playing in Spain for Barcelona next year

#6 — Jonny Flynn

No expectations yet for Flynn … unsure of his talent and unsure of how well he’ll fit within the Triangle offense. Waiting to see more of him in preseason.

#7 — Stephen Curry

30 minutes a night. 16-18 points per game while posting a solid TS% and adding 5-6 assists.

A good player when used at the point guard position but a mediocre to poor one at the off guard spot.

#8 — Jordan Hill

I think his chances of being a regular rotation player are about 30-40%. So there’s a good chance that he barely plays any minutes at all this season. And if he does play, I’m thinking 12-16 minutes.

When Hill does play, I expect solid rebounding (board every four minutes) and solid complementary scoring. So a 10-12 points per 36 minutes type of threat while posting a solid TS%. Plus poor-to-very poor defense (mostly off ball problems).

I think Hill is still quite inconsistent as a finisher in the paint. He shows flashes of being a dominant finisher, and then other times he goes up weakly and flips the ball up the rim wasting opportunities. Also, he has a nice stand still jump shots from 17-20 feet when he gets his feet set.

#9 — Demar DeRozan

Earlier in the summer I was expecting DeRozan to play around 28 minutes a night while putting up 10-12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist while posting a good FG% but a poor TS% (lack of threes/FTs).

There seems to be a growing belief in Belinelli’s ability to contribute so those minutes may be closer to the 22-25 range than the 27-30 range I initially had him in. Not certain of that yet though. Anyway if it does happen, I expect his per minute production to be comparable.

#10 — Brandon Jennings

I think he’ll be a very good thief … but beyond that I don’t have a clue what this guy is going to bring to the table during his rookie season.

#11 — Terrence Williams

A terrific rebounder who’ll be amongst the league leaders in SG/SF’s rebounding rate. I also think he’ll get a good number of assists but also a similar number of turnovers. Scoring wise, I don’t know what to expect, but likely in the 12-14 points per 36 range. Defensively, I think he’ll be a good defender.

Minutes wise, I don’t know what to expect. The starting trio on the perimeter – Devin Harris + Courtney Lee + Bobby Simmons – look fairly safe. From there Williams will have strong competition from Rafer Alston (two PG backcourt) and Chris Douglas Roberts, and decent competition from Jarvis Hayes. Terrence Williams minutes could be anything … I’m leaning towards the 16-20 minute range but it could be anything.

#12 — Gerald Henderson

Good slasher + good defender + mediocre to good rebounder for a shooting guard. Also, a poor TS% and complementary scoring punch of 10-12 points per 36.

The signing of Flip Murray and the continued trade rumours surrounding Raja Bell make it very difficult to tell how much Henderson will play.

Heck, it’s possible that Henderson doesn’t even crack the rotation. But if he does it’ll likely be in a supporting role off the bench where he plays somewhere in the teens minutes wise.

#13 — Tyler Hansbrough

The fourth big in the Pacers rotation beyond Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert and Jeff Foster. I’m thinking 13-17 minutes a game but it could be higher if Hibbert doesn’t step forward in his second season and claim more minutes in the process.

I expect Hansbrough to bring very efficient offensive contributions. He won’t create a lot of his offense with the ball in his hands, but he’ll be brilliant off the ball both as a hustle guy and as a cutter/fastbreak guy. So he’ll post 15-17 points per 36 fairly easily and perhaps more if the Pacers perimeter players are good at finding him (Granger?).

I also think Hansbrough will play solid-to-good defensively. Mediocre man-to-man defense but very good team defense. However, I think he’ll be a poor rebounder. Someone who grabs a rebound every five to five and half minutes.

#14 — Earl Clark

I think he’ll be a backup big man who’ll compete against Robin Lopez and Louis Amundson for minutes. He may play a good amount of minutes (16-20 per game) or not at all. Tough to tell right now.

When he does play, I reckon he’ll be a decent-to-solid rebounder and a solid-to-good defender. Offensively, I like him as a passer in the high post but expect that to be under-utilitized so not much effect there … whilst being an ineffective scorer for the most part.

If he’s smart, he’ll play within himself and find a way to be an efficient finisher alongside Nash’s playmaking ability … but there’s a fair chance he’ll take some less efficient shots (jump shooting is a question mark for me) and hurt his overall scoring efficiency.

#15 — Austin Daye

No idea how much he’ll play. Possibly their backup small forward but there’s a fair (50-50) chance that he won’t be a regular rotation player.

When Daye does play, I’m thinking good rebounding with poor defense … and solid complementary scoring. No idea on whether he’ll be an efficient scorer or not.

#16 — James Johnson

The 9th or 10th man in the Bulls rotation. I’m expecting a small amount of minutes in the 5-11 range, well, if he plays that is and it’s possible that he doesn’t. A lot of games where he doesn’t get much of a chance to have an impact. If someone in the Bulls frontcourt gets injured though, Johnson will have a great chance at claiming some substantial minutes.

I’m expecting poor-to-very poor defense at either forward position. Also poor to very poor rebounding when he’s being used as a power forward, but solid board work if he’s used as a small forward.

Offensively, Johnson is skilled and intelligent. He has uses as a ball handling forward, as a passer, and as a scorer. The minutes will limit most of creative tendencies and make him primarily a scorer, but if he finds a way to get more tick then we could see more in other areas. As a scorer, Johnson has a very good midrange jump shot but outside of that he looks like an inefficient scorer (free throws? threes? interior finishing?).

#17 — Jrue Holiday

Not too dissimilar from Royal Ivey. A very good defender but largely a passive + ineffective offensive player. I think Holiday can be a bit better as a rebounder though.

I’m not convinced Holiday has enough self-confidence + assertiveness to be an impact player as a rookie. He could be a serviceable but weak rotation player though.

#18 — Ty Lawson

Minutes are the big thing here – how much of them will Lawson get?

I don’t know but I’m not expecting much with Billups and Carter around. A very good scenario would be 15-20 minutes a night, the most likely one being the 8-12 minute range, and the bad scenario being quite possibly a non-rotation player. Tough to call production in this uncertain landscape.

I like Lawson’s chances of being a solid scorer (13-16 points per 36), a mediocre scorer efficiency wise, a good rebounder, a very good assist creator (Nuggets tendency to run will help) but a poor-to-serviceable defender.

In other words, I think Lawson will be pretty good during his rookie season … it’s just hard to pin down his role with Billups and Carter knocking around.

#19 — Jeff Teague

I do not expect Teague to be a regular rotation player. With Bibby and Crawford in the backcourt, and JJ-Marvin-Mo on the wings, I just don’t see where the minutes come from.

If Teague does play, I like his scoring ability both in how prolific he can be and his efficiency. The rest of his game is a big unknown for me (point guard skills + defense).

#20 — Eric Maynor

I think Maynor has a good chance at beating Ronnie Price for those backup point guard minutes.

If he manages to get those minutes, he’ll be a decent backup point guard. He’ll run the offense intelligently and do a good job of getting the ball where it needs to be, while also being a serviceable scorer + defender.

#21 — Darren Collison

I think Darren Collison will be a very good backup point guard from Day One. On another team he could be a serviceable starter.

I reckon he’ll play very well defensively, that he’ll do a good job creating possessions with rebounding/steals, and that he’ll be a fairly efficient scorer due to his shooting ability + skills as a penetrator. As a floor general he’ll do a solid job, nothing fancy, but he’ll get the job done.

A very good role player.

#22 — Victor Claver

In Spain? I think so.

#23 — Omri Casspi

Not sure what to expect here minutes wise or production wise. He may not play, but if he does I’m thinking it’ll be low minutes.

If he does play, I’m expecting him to be below average at everything … but in an all-round way, decent at a lot of things, but doesn’t stand out at anything.

Then again, I might be completely underestimating him. I’m not sure what he’ll bring to the table.

#24 — BJ Mullens

A non-rotation player. I don’t expect him to play yet.

#25 — Rodrigue Beaubois

With Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and JJ Barea already in the backcourt it’ll be difficult for Beaubois to get minutes.

If he does play, I’m expecting good defense mixed with explosive offense. The type of scorer who can off on a moments notice, but in an inconsistent manner. A talented jump shooter with great athleticism.

#26 — Taj Gibson

Like James Johnson, I see Gibson in the 9th to 10th man role for the Bulls while playing no to very few minutes.

I think Gibson can be an above average rebounder and a solid defender while being a solid garbage man offensively. I think he’s better suited to playing a marginal role, and to executing a coach’s wishes.

Gibson is an older rookie. A seasoned NCAA campaigner. There’s a good chance that he’s close to where he’s going to be as a pro. And that’s a solid bench player.

#27 — DeMarre Carroll

I think Conley, Iverson, Mayo, Gay and Young will claim most of the minutes on the wing leaving just a few scraps for Carroll to play with.

When he does play, I like Carroll to be a solid defender plus a solid rebounder … but a largely ineffective but versatile role player.

Similar to Kyle Weaver last season I guess.

#28 — Wayne Ellington

A poor defender + poor rebounder + poor passer/handle.

A solid scoring threat who’ll post 12-15 points per 36 minutes at an efficient rate due to his jump shooting ability. That jump shot will make him a good fit alongside Al Jefferson’s low post play, but Ellington’s all round game makes him questionable minutes wise.

An excellent chance at being a rotation player due to Minnesota’s poor wings and lack of shooters … but not a certainty.

#29 — Toney Douglas

I wasn’t expecting Douglas to play due to Duhon + Nate, but D’Antoni says that Douglas will be the backup point guard so he should get 12-15 minutes a game next season.

I think Douglas will be a good-to-very good defender. His gambling defensively lowering his impact somewhat, but also helping him create a good dose of turnovers. I also think he’ll be a solid-to-good rebounder due to his hustle + work rate.

Offensively, he’ll do a good job of running the offense and is a good passer. An intelligent player overall. Also, he has a good jump shot and should be a solid scorer efficiency wise. I doubt he calls his own number too often, so more of a complementary weapon (10-14 points per 36).

A good role player right away.

#30 — Christian Eyenga — Spain is it? Not in the NBA anyway.

One Other Notable

There’s a bunch of second rounders that should play but my knowledge on them is fairly limited, and there’s roles are hard to predict, so I don’t think I have anything useful to say on most of them. But there is one player I’d like to touch on before moving on:

#37 — DeJuan Blair

An excellent rebounder who has a good chance at being amongst the league leaders in rebounding rate/ rebounding per minute … especially as an offensive rebounder. Also a good scorer (15-17 points per 36) who’ll score at an efficient rate due to his shot selection and aggressive play in the paint.

However, I expect him to be a poor defender. How well the Spurs coaching staff does bringing his defense up to par will go a long way to deciding his minutes … and his overall effectiveness as a weapon for San An.

I’m thinking 15-18 minutes as a backup big man for the time being. If he can show more as a defender those minutes could jump up pretty quick.

Other second round picks who stand a good chance at getting minutes:

  • Chase Budinger looks like a lock to get minutes in Houston. His teammate, Jermaine Taylor, has a great chance at earning court time while McGrady is out but it could be harder to come by once T-Mac returns. Budinger’s efficiency offensively looks very impressive. Taylor’s shot selection and defense may hold him back.
  • Jeff Pendergraph looks like a very good rebounder and useful all-round role player. He should play as a rookie for the Kings.
  • DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko. These Pistons rookies will complete with Austin Daye, and Deron Washington, for the backup small forward position and some occasional scrap minutes. Summers is the most accomplished scorer, but an inefficient one at that, and a highly questionable rebounder if he’s used as a power forward. While Jerebko is best described as a pest, someone who’s scrappy and will get under the skin of the opposition. The type of guy who contributes a lot in hustle areas and is a very good team player (executes offensively, intelligent, good defense, useful rebounder).
  • Sam Young is a good scorer who should get some minutes as a backup wing for the Grizzlies.
  • Jodie Meeks looks like a non-rotation player for now but he has a small chance at winning the role. He doesn’t contribute in non-scoring areas but he can really shoot + score the ball.
  • Marcus Thornton — similar to Meeks but I expect less scoring efficiency. I don’t see him as a useful rotation player as a rookie but many others do. His defense will decide how many minuets he’ll get, and for now that doesn’t look good enough.
  • Derrick Brown is a good rebounder for a wing. He has great defensive potential but I’m not sure how good he is right now. Offensively, he’s fine as he long as he takes a low number of shots and high percentage shots which he likely will do. He could get in trouble otherwise. His coach, Larry Brown, has said that he’ll only play as a small forward for the time being. I don’t think Brown will be serviceable as a power forward whilst he’s a rookie.
  1. Dave,

    Great job putting this overall list together!

    From a Raptors’ perspective, the players who I suggested prior to the Draft that they should trade down to take:

    Earl Clark [expect him to play SF for the Suns]
    Terrence Williams [might end up getting 20+ MPG for the Nets]
    Taj Gibson [might be the Bulls 4th Big this season]
    Dante Cunningham [will be on the bench this season; expect big things down-the-road]
    Derrick Brown [still my sleeper pick from this year’s draft; good sign that LB likes him, so far :-)]
    Danny Green [a solid rotation player for the Cavs down-the-road]
    Marcus Thornton [in the mold of Mitch Richmond]
    Nando De Colo [hybrid Tony Parker & Manu Ginobili]

    are going to be the ones I watch with the most keen interest this season, in comparison with the long term fate of DeMar DeRozan.

  2. I hope DeRozan earns his way to +20 minutes per night.
    I don’t believe Jay will give him more without him earning it.
    The kid definitely has the potential but he faces some real competition from Belinelli, Wright, and Jack who could all be proving they deserve more minutes too!
    What a nice problem to be having after the last few seasons!

    Great write-up.
    Outside of Blake, it’ll likely be a challenge for any of these rookies to get over 14 ppg, but it’ll definitely make the season more exciting if a couple of them can.

    +14 ppg for a rook is a high level to achieve.

  3. You don’t watch college hoops?

    I sorry.

  4. Hey Ryan,

    Yeah, I just can’t get into college hoops. There’s always NBA games going on during the season and the quality of play is just so much lower in college basketball … I get frustrated and usually shut it off before I get to end of the first quarter.

    The only times I watch college games is when I want to get an early look at some NBA prospect, normally a top five pick type of prospect (elite prospects), to get a feel for how good he can be at the next level. I wasn’t overly interested in this year’s draft class so I watched even less games than normal this year.

  5. I understand where your coming from, but honestly, the college teams play all out every game. And some of the environments are wild. If you get a chance, watch some Michigan games this season (they are on national tv a lot this season). John Beilein is a solid coach with a very watchable system in place for perimeter players. If you can, keep an eye out for likely first round pick Manny Harris. He has a NBA frame, is a great slasher and a decent 3 point shooter. He could come back for his senior season next year, but I doubt he will.

    Also, in college b-ball their are no quarters, lol.

  6. Ryan, haha you see I can’t even remember that!

    Michigan and Manny Harris, okay, sounds good. I’ll try to catch one of their games later in the season.

  7. Khandor,

    I thought you might be interested to hear Larry Brown is praising Derrick Brown once again (after the Jazz game)

    Derrick Brown playing 16 minutes. The rookie had 15 points and four boards.

    “Derrick Brown played great,” the coach said, “better than all our big guys.”

    And – link

    Derrick Brown is about as unrookie-like as any of the Charlotte Bobcats’ draft picks have been.

    He just carries himself like a guy who has been around the NBA for years and knows how to play. I’m not saying he’ll never make inexperienced mistakes, but you can see he’s a bright guy who was well coached in college.

    And – link

    Those three delivered so little collectively against the Jazz that rookie Derrick Brown — built like a hybrid small/power forward — got plenty of playing time inside versus Utah. Brown seems like a quick study and he plays with an intensity this team needs. Whether they can trust him to perform in real games against veterans right now is still debatable, but Brown looks like a second-round steal.

    Impressive praise for the rookie

  8. Dave,

    Thanks for the heads up.

  9. Although no one should ever like to see someone else sustain an injury …

    the situation which the Bobcats now find themselves in might just mean increased PT for both Gerald Henderson [OG] and Derrick Brown [SF].

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