For a draft that was slated by many to be one of the weakest in recent history, if not ever, the rookie class of 2012 is, without a doubt, showing it’s worth.
While this draft wasn’t one that supplied us NBA heads with our next Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, it was one that gave some struggling teams their possible future.
Let’s start with the glaringly obvious. Former Duke standout, Kyrie Irving. While the 6’3 point guard won’t make the pain of LeBron James bolting to Miami completely go away, he should prove to be a reliable player moving forward and does sure up the most vital position on the floor.
Kyrie is filling it up during his rookie campaign. Averaging a shade over 18 points, 3.5 rebounds and nearly 5 dimes in just 30 minutes per contest. Compare those to LeBron’s rookie numbers and you’ll find that Kyrie, without nearly as much hype, is delivering very comparable numbers to “King James”. LeBron averaged about 21 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists per game in his first year as a pro.
You may think I sound crazy, but the numbers should be enough to convince you. The Cavaliers have a LONG way to go, but Kyrie was the right choice, and it’s a start.
Another cat that has shown a nice upside is Kemba Walker. Michael Jordan praised Walker’s ability to handle the ball and use of his superb speed to get to the rack. If that weren’t enough, watch MJ’s reaction to Walker’s “shake n bake” against Larry Sanders.
We don’t get to see a display like that from “Sir Airness” very often. It’s blatantly obvious that Jordan is buying what Kemba Walker is selling. Walker hasn’t been quite as exciting as the aforementioned Kyrie Irving, but it’s clear to my eyes that he has a certain “IT” factor to his game.
The only problem I see with Walker is his poor FG% (.370), which will improve in time. Fans are often too quick to judge a player’s ability without factoring in a few things. Guys like Irving and Walker, heck, even Kevin Durant, are drafted to bad teams, and are given the green light to fire the rock. This results in too many shots and more importantly, too many bad looks. Many young players fall in love with taking bad shots. It’s really that simple.
Take a look at Kevin Durant’s rookie numbers. Durant shot 28% from beyond the arc. While they both shot poorly from different ranges, the end result was still due to what I had just said. It’s the opportunity and the lack of experience that drives these young guys to take bad shots. Time and experience tends to cure this.
Brandon Knight is another one of these point guards who comes from the school of Derrick Rose. These quick combo guards who are more scorer than passer seem to almost dominate the point guard field in today’s NBA.
Knight has shown some flashes of brilliance this season, but one has to ask themselves if Detroit is the right place for a player like Knight. The Pistons seem to have a rather large collection of combo guards lining their pocket at the moment and it should be interesting to see how Brandon Knight will play into their future.
Regardless of whether or not the Pistons use Knight to anchor their rebuild, it’s clear to me that this kid has the skills to help an NBA team win games. I can envision a nice partnership between Brandon Knight and Detroit’s young big man, Earl Monroe. The tandem of Knight and Monroe is essentially what every NBA team is looking for. A young guard, teamed with a young center. It could be the makings of great things for the Pistons and their fans.
While Ricky Rubio was drafted last season, rather than this season, he still must be acknowledged here. Rubio has been “as advertised” after waiting an additional season before making his leap to the NBA. Rubio is also the only point guard on this list that stands out as a true pg. He’s a pass first, play-maker, type of guard. There are only a handful of these true point guards left in the entire NBA, and averaging over 8 assists per game has vaulted Ricky Rubio into the discussion right away.
His court vision and pure-passing abilities have wowed me every single time I happen to catch a Timberwolves game. The 6’4, experienced Rubio has been rubbing elbows with pros for years now. Playing with the likes of Rudy Fernandez, Pau and Marc Gasol on the Spanish national team has likely given this youngster a leg up on his competition.
I feel like all of these young point guards can easily make their mark on the NBA. They all have the skill-set to play and excel at the professional level. I am truly a fan!