With this year’s crop of NBA rookies going through a crash course when it comes to training camp and getting familiar with teammates because of the Lockout, it may take a number of first year players until the All Star break to hit full stride. Playing time may also be scarce for some as coaches will surely cater to veterans in this shortened 66 game schedule. With that being said, high first round picks like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, and Kemba Walker have to be the early favorites for the2012 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Check out which players crack our initial 2012 ROY Rankings:
8.8 ppg, 2.8 ast, 4 reb, .264 3PT%
Despite the Kings rather mediocre start (2-3), Jimmer has been a mixed bag of good and bad off the bench for coach Paul Westphal. He’s scored in double figures in 2 of 5 games but has struggled from the field and has had his issues defending opposing point guards, totaling only 2 steals on the season.
Last year’s NCAA POY has proven to have legitimate NBA 3 point range from anywhere inside the gym and has been perfect (100%) from the charity stripe. With an increase in consistent minutes, look for Jimmer to find his scoring groove since he averaged 28.9 ppg as a college senior last season.
7.4 ppg, 4.6 reb, 1 stl, .517 FG%, .333 3P%
Playing only 18+ minutes per game behind a stacked roster of young talent in Minnesota, Williams has been inconsistent with his production in the early going. Similar to Jimmer at #10, Williams has had some tremendous games (13 pts, 6 reb vs OKC) and some forgettable efforts (3 pts, 5 reb vs Mil) as well. In spite of erratic production, the #2 overall pick exudes athleticism and has potential as a stat stuffer. Derrick should even out his production as the season goes on. He ranks 4th among rookies in rebounding, 7th in FG%, and 12th in scoring.
11.2 ppg, 3 ast, 1.8 reb, .497 FG%, .400 3PT%
Playing behind incumbent starter Rodney Stuckey, Knight is beginning to show some of the promise that made him the #8 overall pick out of Kentucky. Although he only had one season to hone his skills on the collegiate level, Knight has proven to be an elite level athlete capable of providing scoring when needed, is an outstanding individual defender, and has potential as an above average 3 point shooter. He already has a 20 point scoring night (23 pts vs Cle) to his credit, made 2 or more treys in 3 contests, and is shooting nearly 50% from the field.
Now if he could only cut down on those turnovers (2.8 – worst among rookies). Brandon ranks 5th among rookies in scoring, 7th in assists, and is in the Top 10 in 3 point shooting.
8.3 ppg, 4.3 reb, 1.8 blk, .636 FG%
Many thought that the Cavaliers were reaching by selecting the Texas freshman over Enes Kanter with the 4th overall pick but Thompson has been a pleasant surprise for coach Byron Scott. Although a bit undersized for PF, Thompson more than makes up for it with his through the roof athleticism and long wingspan, enabling him to be a game-changer on the defensive side of the ball from day one.
Thompson leads all rookies in blocked shots and ranks 6th in rebounding. He has also impressed offensively, ranking in the Top 5 in FG% and 11th in scoring.
9.4 ppg, 5.4 reb, 1.2 ast, .581 FG%, .500 3PT%
In spite of being known as the other Morris twin during his time at Kansas, Markieff has been the better pro out of the gate in their short time as NBA players. While brother Marcus struggles to find playing time in Houston, Markieff has been an unbelievable inside-outside threat for the Suns off the bench. In addition to being a low post force, he has proven to be a legitimate NBA 3 point threat, knocking down at least one trey in 4 of 5 games. Markieff is tied for 2nd among rookies in rebounding, ranks 3rd in FG%, and 8th in scoring.
11.5 ppg, 3.5 ast, 3 reb, 1 stl, .273 3PT%
Last season’s Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four has had to bide his time early on behind incumbent starter at PG DJ Augustin, but he has had his moments, ranking 3rd on the Bobcats in scoring and 2nd in assists per game.
Picking up where he left off in college, Kemba has shown a knack for scoring, notching double figures in 3 of 4 contests. He has also proven to have NBA caliber speed with the basketball and plays the passing lanes as well as any rookie on defense, snatching nearly a steal per contest. He currently ranks 4th in scoring, 5th in assists, and 10th in steals among all rookies.
11.7 ppg, 3.2 ast, 1.5 stl, .509 FG%
Already earning the nickname Norris “Ice” Cole for his late game and crunch time heroics, it appears as if the Miami Heat may have found a diamond in the rough when it comes to the 28th pick in the Draft. Although currently biding his time behind Mario Chalmers at the point, Cole has provided whatever is needed for the surging Heat, whether it be scoring, key rebounds, or timely assists. Norris already has a 20 point game to his credit (vs Boston on Christmas) and has scored in double figures in 4 of 6 games this season.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Cole supplant Chalmers as starter by Playoff time. Cole leads all rookies in steals and ranks 3rd in scoring, and 6th in assists.
13.7 ppg, 3.7 reb, 1 ast, .463 FG%, .333 3PT%
Similar to Cole at #4, Brooks has been a pleasant surprise for the Nets, especially with big man Brook Lopez going down for en extended period of time. Brooks has turned into Deron Williams favorite target off the bench, ranking 2nd on the Nets in scoring. He leads all rookies in 20 point scoring games, hitting the plateau twice in the last 3 games.
Marshon has also scored in double figures in 4 of 6 games and has followed his scouting report to a tee as an instant offense type player in the Jamal Crawford mold. Brooks leads all rookies in scoring and ranks in the Top 10 in rebounding and steals.
8.8 ppg, 6.4 ast, 3.8 reb, .517 FG%, .500 FT%
It appears as if it was well worth the wait for the Spanish sensation, taken #5 in the 2009 Draft to finally arrive in the Twin Cities. His no look and between the leg passes have already made Rubio a fan favorite, despite playing limited minutes behind starter Luke Ridnour at the point. We already knew about the highlight reel ball-handling but his proficiency in shooting the basketball is what has him ranked so high early on. Ricky is shooting 50+% from the field, 50+% on threes, and more than 80% from the FT line. Sound familiar? Nash like?
His nearly 3 turnovers per game are a concern but he gives the Wolves a chance to win and puts butts in the seats. Rubio ranks 1st in assists and is among the Top 10 in FG%, 3PT%, FT%, and steals.
13.3 ppg, 5.5 ast, 3.7 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, .364 3PT%
After playing only 11 games in nearly two calender years due to a toe injury at Duke and the NBA Lockout, I was one of the many that was cautious to anoint Irving as the pre-season favorite for ROY. But after an uninspiring rookie debut (6 pts vs Toronto), Irving is beginning to hit his stride, averaging 16 ppg and 6 assists over the last 3 games. As the only rookie on the list playing starters minutes, Irving stands the best chance to pad his stats going forward.
Kyrie has a tough stretch coming up against fellow outstanding point guards like Rubio, Felton, Nash, and Curry, so we’ll be able to better gauge his development in the next rankings. Kyrie ranks 2nd in scoring and assists, 4th in steals, and the Top 10 in rebounding, FG%, 3 PT%, and FT%.
January 4, 2012 – Check out our initial NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings for January 2012.