Late Bloomers? The Relatively Underwhelming 2013-14 NBA Rookie Class


Take a look back at the rookies of the past five, 10, 15, 20, even 25 years in the NBA, and you'll find no shortage of impressive rookie seasons. Hell, just take a look at the past quarter-century of Rookie of the Year winners, and you'll have to look real hard to find players that weren't, at one point or another, superstars or at least all-star caliber players — looking at you, Emeka Okafor!

Even the guys who didn't develop into household names or all-stars at least had impactful rookie seasons, if nothing else. Take, for instance, Tyreke Evans, who became just the third rookie ever to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game along with some guys named Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.

In the last decade alone, we had LeBron, Melo, Wade and Bosh going at it; Chris Paul pushing aside the old guard at the point; the Brandon Roy experience; Kevin Durant, Seattle Supersonic; Derrick Rose restoring faith in Chi-town; Blake Griffin's belated rookie season of posterization; Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard.

NBA rookies are known to make their mark immediately on the league. So why has that not been the case here so far in the 2013-14 NBA season? I'm not sure, but as it stands, there are only three NBA rookies averaging double digits in points and putting up even remotely decent statistics — and all three of them are shooting 40 percent from the field or worse.

Now that we're officially into 2014 and more than a third of the way through the season, let's take a look at the 2013 NBA Draft lottery picks, since the only player outside of the lottery doing anything at all is New York's Tim Hardaway Jr.


1. Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers
10.2 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 27.8% fg, 14.3% 3pt, 60% ft
There is nothing I can add to Anthony Bennett's incredibly-difficult-to-watch rookie campaign that hasn't already been said. The kid is lost, and he continues to be the most baffling No. 1 overall pick I can remember. Ever. In any sport. I'm not even making that up. I mean it.

2. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
30.1 mpg, 13.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 40.5% fg, 29.4% 3pt, 75.2% ft
Oladipo is one of those three rookies averaging double digits, and as it stands right now, he very well may be the second-best rookie in the NBA to date this season. While his shooting has been rather unimpressive, his athleticism has continued to impress and his defense is tantalizing.

3. Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards
12.1 mpg, 2.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 35.1% fg, 0% 3pt, 60% ft
When I saw Otto Porter Jr. play in person during the NCAA Tournament in Philadelphia last year as Florida Gulf Coast dunked all over Georgetown, I came away completely unimpressed with Porter, who many were proclaiming as the best NBA prospect of the bunch. Turns out my observations have proved to hold true so far, as Porter has been quite literally invisible this season.

4. Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
17.2 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 36.5% fg, 75.4% ft
I believe this is all we really need to relay in regard to Cody Zeller.

5. Alex Len, Phoenix Suns
7.5 mpg, 1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 42.9% fg, 50% ft
This guy can't get on the court for the surprisingly competitive Suns … but he's a 7-footer who is shooting 43% from the field. No thanks.

6. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers (by way of New Orleans)
Nerlens, as we all know, has not played all season after getting injured to close out Kentucky's regular season last year, and he probably won't play. Should be interesting to see how the defensive stalwart in college adjusts to the pro game whenever he gets back on the court (probably in the 2014-15 season).

7. Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.2 bpg, 36.6% fg, 33.9% 3pt, 77.3% ft
McLemore is a raw talent that has had some flashes this season in Sacramento, but he hasn't shot even a little bit well for a shooting guard. He's certainly an intriguing talent who has had some fine games, but like this entire draft class, he's been mostly forgettable.


8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
23.4 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 38.8% fg, 33.7% 3pt, 72.4% ft
When I watch the Detroit Pistons play, I watch Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Seriously, I had no idea Caldwell-Pope was even on this team.

9. Trey Burke, Utah Jazz (by way of Minnesota)
30.2 mpg, 13.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.2 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.1 bpg, 38.6 fg%, 33.3% 3pt, 93.8% ft
Burke is the second of the three rookies averaging in double digits right now, and he's second among rookies in scoring and assists. Burke has been really solid and is making a push to join the Rookie of the Year conversation, particularly with his low turnover rate. And while he's struggled shooting the ball from the field, he leads all rookies in free throw percentage and would trail only Ryan Anderson in the entire league if he had enough attempts to qualify.

10. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
The guy who shocked Duke a couple years ago is in the D-League. Lehigh always was a wrestling school, not a basketball factory.

11. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
35.1 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 7.2 apg, 2.8 spg, 0.7 bpg, 40.3% fg, 29.4% 3pt, 70.1% ft
Ladies and gentlemen, here is your 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year at this point, and it's not even close. Carter-Williams leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists and steals, and he's second in blocks. And while his shooting has been just as suspect as any other rookie's, he's found ways to score anyway … all while running the show for the Sixers and putting himself in line to finish in the top 10 in the NBA in assists. But it's Carter-Williams' defense that is truly at an elite level, as his length and strength have allowed him to be a force on the ball. It's translated into 2.8 steals per game, which incredibly is tied with Ricky Rubio for top marks in the entire NBA. He's been the biggest revelation and most impressive rookie this season, even if the Sixers are in full tank mode.

12. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
15.3 mpg, 4.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.9 bpg, 48.9% fg, 68.6% ft
It's tough to get a lot of run on a team with title hopes as a rookie, especially one with Serge Ibaka and an experienced Kendrick Perkins on the roster. But in limited minutes, the 7-footer from Pitt has shown plenty of upside. He may be slow to develop overall, but he does lead all rookies in blocks and should get more run once the Thunder finally realize Perk is pretty much worthless.

13. Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics (by way of Dallas)
19.1 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.4 bpg, 40.9% fg, 31.4% 3pt, 84.8%ft
It's a little surprising to me that Olynyk doesn't get more run for the Celtics, since the plan was for them to be terrible and all, but then again, when a 7-footer shoots not even 41% from the floor, he probably shouldn't be on the court too much anyway. Still, Olynyck is tied for second among rookies in rebounds per game, and he's a good free throw shooter. So there's that.

14. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
22.3 mpg, 6.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.8 bpg, 47.5 fg%, 32.4% 3pt, 72.9% ft
The Bucks are terrible. As in, worst record in the NBA terrible. That's why Giannis should be seeing the floor more, developing his talents. While there is nothing eye-popping about his stats, the youngster has come on of late, notching double digits in five of his last six games and putting up pretty well-rounded floor games overall. At this point, he may be the fourth best rookie in the league behind the trio averaging double digits in points.

While some of these players are bound to improve not only the rest of this season but moving forward in their careers, I can't help but notice the relative lack of buzz and excitement around these rookies. Certainly Oladipo and MCW have been playing well from the jump, and the likes of Burke and Antetokounmpo have made strong pushes of late. But is it just more or does this class feel stale thus far?

I don't know. Perhaps we've just been spoiled over the years with the insane talents and absurd debuts over the years, but it looks to me as though the 2013-14 NBA rookie class has been relatively underwhelming thus far.

What do you all think? Who's impressed you the most? Who have you been most disappointed by? Let us know.

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