Note: Players are not listed in any particular order.
As the most boring month in the NBA calendar approaches us, we can't help but make something out of nothing. It is consensus that this rookie class is one of the weakest in NBA history, but that doesn't mean we can't check out some of the bright spots in the class. I think there are 3 players, outside of Blake Griffin, who will make an immediate impact who have flown under the radar.
Before we get into the three players, lets take a quick look at Griffin. We all know what this kid is capable of. He is a do-it-all player with great athleticism and a body to complement, but will that translate into the NBA? I think it will for a bit. I think that he will have production similar to what Kevin Love had last year, but Griffin won't translate into instant savior for the team. Griffin is about 3 years away from being the go-to guy on the team. The NBA physical play is something Griffin will need to get accustomed to quickly. The one thing that Griffin does have going for him is his ability to run the floor. With players like Eric Gordon, Sebastian Telfair and Baron Davis at the point, the opportunities for fast breaks will be plentiful due to their street ball style and free flowing offense (I call it free flow because I doubt even Mike Dunleavy knows what it is called). Having a big guy who can run the floor like Griffin will be a great asset.
DeMar DeRozan: I skipped Ricky Rubio because quite frankly, I just have not seen enough tape on him to make a clear judgment. DeRozan is a freak of an athlete. I'd even go as far as to say he is the most athletic player in the class. Do you remember when Vince Carter played on the Raptors and even took them to the playoffs? Carter actually played pretty hard against the Knicks in one of those series. Well, DeRozan is Vince Carter 2.0. DeRozan is a SG who can straight up score. Here is where I've broken it down to. DeRozan had a lot of success in college scoring because he is a power player with a lot of quickness (think Lebron, Carter, Andre Iguodala). He has a powerful first step and protects the ball marvelously. His defense is spotty, but that has the ability to improve dramatically because of his natural ability. DeRozan won't have a problem adjusting to the speed of the game because I'd put DeRozan in the top 25% in the league in terms of athleticism. Where DeRozan could get hurt is playing out of his natural game. DeRozan gets trigger happy and gets the "me vs the world" type mentality after he gets hot. You can't blame the guy. He has been a star since his days at Compton High onto his days at USC. I do think he is going to be a tremendous asset to Toronto this season. I think that he will benefit greatly from the pass happy Jose Calderon. Of course, it is Chris Bosh's team and DeRozan undoubtedly understands that. The key challege for DeMar will be to use his athleticism and improve his basketball iq. I'm expecting DeRozan to be an extremelty coachable player. We know that he is a hard worker and he will acclamate himself to the NBA game quickly. I'm expecting him to average about 12ppg, 6 rebs, and 2 steals a game. His game will surprise you, and his athleticism will awe you. I guarantee it.
Brandon Jennings: If you only know B. Jennings from the Joe Budden video, you better do some more YouTube searches for this kid. He is amazing. I do think that he is the second best player to come out of this draft. Don't let his Euro numbers fool you. The Euro League can really damage a lot of players stats. If you don't believe me, check out Josh Childress' stats. He is averaging single digits over at Olympiakos when he was a 10ppg player in the US. Jennings is no different. He wasn't treated like a superstar, he got kicked out of practices for not practicing hard enough, and his stats took a hit. Jennings can play. The reason I think he will make the biggest impact the quickest is due to what team he is on. Here at DishingDimes we are huge Ramon Sessions fans and if Sessions had a future in Milwaukee it would be a different story with Jennings. The fact is, Sessions is out and Luke Ridnour has never really been...in, so that leaves the door wide open for Jennings. The Bucks are incredibly weak in the back court as it is. With Michael Redd as the only proven consistent Buck, Jennings has a chance to shine. In fact, if he puts together the season that he is capable of, the Bucks could be one of the top 10 back courts in the league. Yes, the combo of Michael Redd and a Brandon Jennings livingup to his potential would equal a top 10 backcourt in the NBA, and there is no question about it. Jenning has a good shot, but it can obviously improve. Like DeRozan, he will start launching ill-advised shots if he is feeling it. This will probably drive Scott Skiles insane, but that will be part of Jennings' growth as a player. He will quickly learn that being a point guard in the NBA is more than making the right pass at the right time, it is something that can't really even be taught, it is just something the elite guards have and others don't. I believe that Jennings has the tools to be an elite guard in the league, and it is just a matter of him getting there. As you can tell, I'm incredibly high on Jennings and I think that he will be a player we will hear a lot from in the coming years. Expect him to put together 15ppg, 4 assists, 5 rebs, and a steal.
Tyreke Evans: There is no question in my mind that he is step two for the Kings to finally get back to their competitive position in the West. Evans has all of tools it takes for a guard to be successful in the league. If Kevin Martin actually starts to live up to his $55million dollar extension and produces like an $11 mil a year player then the Kings might have something here. Throw in the bright futured Jason Thompson and skilled center Spencer Hawes and you have a great young core up in Sacramento. Now, don't get me wrong, we're not talking championship here, in fact, we're not even talking playoffs right now at this point. We are just talking about improving. I think the Kings will get to 30 wins this season which is a 13 game improvement from their 17 last season. They are just missing too much in their lineup and their bench to warrant any other serious consideration. Ty Evans is a big guard who can get to the rim and will make big plays. He will have Kevin Martin to help lighten the load, but the Kings are asking a lot from Evans this season. I think that he will undoubtedly produce to his capabilities. He has incredibly good court awareness. He could dribble the ball up the court and right as he crosses mid court, he would be able to tell you exactly where every one of his teammates was on the court. You can see this awareness very clearly in the way he passes the ball. I also think he has amazing ball control and strength to defend any point guard in the league. It is hard to make any sort of concrete numbers prediction with Evans because the Kings are so sporadic, but I think 10 ppg and 5 assists per game is a safe bet. Pay attention to this kid up in Nor Cal, he will only get better as the season goes on.
Watch for these 3 guys because these 3 guys plus Griffin have the potential to be future All-Stars. This is what we love about sports, the ability to make predictions about players and watch them striving to reach their potential. This year has brought us weaker talent than we are used to, but don't be surprised if there are gems in this class. I think these guys will make a big impact for their teams.
Note: Players are not listed in any particular order.