Philadelphia 76ers Duo Lead All NBA Rookie Teams
By Josh Morgan: VP and Director of Content
There are few things more difficult in sports than predicting how well a rookie will perform in their first year in their respective league. The jump in competition can’t be overstated and for some highly thought of prospects, can be too much to overcome. Making predictions for the All Rookie teams may seem like a futile proposition; especially the second team as there are almost always players that come out of nowhere to make an impact, but I am going to make an attempt at doing just that.
G: Elfrid Payton -Orlando Magic
When it comes to rookies putting their stamp on the league from their first season in the league, a lot of it is about the opportunity. Playing on a bad team and getting plenty of minutes to show your talent can go a long way to getting on one of these teams and I’m sorry Magic fans but Orlando won’t be very good this year. They do however have a promising rookie point guard in Elfrid Payton. Coming from a Sun Belt Conference school like Louisiana Lafayette, Payton wasn’t a household name coming into the college basketball season but his play throughout the year and his physical talents at the point guard position, standing 6’5 with long arms and a great, NBA ready build propelled him into the lottery. The Magic signed veteran Luke Ridnour this offseason but this move should not hold back Payton’s playing time and if he can add any sort of jump shot to go along with his aggressive style off the dribble and his relentless defensive play, he will not only make the First Team All Rookie but he will be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year.
G: Andrew Wiggins- Minnesota Timberwolves
These next two players may undercut my theory of either playing on a bad team or getting a lot of minutes making it easier to be selected to one of these teams but there are exceptions to most every rule. In this situation Wiggins will likely be competing with other players at the two or three, wherever Flip Saunders decides to play him, such as Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, fellow rookie Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and someone they are paying a healthy amount of money to in Chase Budinger. His talent will win out in the end, his pure scoring ability and the potential he has to become a stopper on the defensive end, and he will see plenty of playing time to put up the numbers.
F: Doug McDermott- Chicago Bulls
In McDermott’s case the Bulls are not a bad team, they are one of the best in the league, but he has a skill that they need, scoring ability on the perimeter. While McDermott is a great all around scorer he will likely be asked to stretch the floor more than he will be posting up like he did at Creighton and with his phenomenal ability to cut and move without the basketball to act as a counter to his unlimited shooting range, he should put up the numbers to be named to this team. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is a great mentor to have but he is no spring chicken so the opportunity should be there for McDermott, should he put in the effort defensively that Thibs looks for, and I believe he will.
F: Jabari Parker- Milwaukee Bucks
Parker is likely the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award and for good reason. He can leave plenty to desire when it comes to the defensive end of the floor but his scoring ability is phenomenal. His jump shot overall as well as the range on it needs to improve but he can work on this part of his game while still utilizing his size to get to the rim and finish and with that size he has the handle to get around just about anyone on the floor on his way to finding his spot to score. The defensive ability isn’t there but he is a very good rebounder and with his ball handling ability he will go coast to coast time after time. Parker is in the best situation to make an impact as a rookie and as things sit right now he is a shoe-in for the first team.
C: Nerlens Noel- Philadelphia 76ers
I’ve talked a lot about opportunity with the previous players and there may not be a team that gives rookies and young players more of an opportunity to play and contribute at a high level than the Philadelphia 76ers, as they are unequivocally the worst team in the league. Noel was the 6th pick in the 2013 draft but he did not play last season due to a knee injury. This season he will be a cornerstone of the Sixers’ plans along with Michael Carter-Williams and this will put him in the conversation for the Rookie of the Year as well. He is one of the best shot blockers to come into the league in recent years and he can change the game in this way. He combines incredible athleticism and impeccable timing to swat away attempts both on help side and in one on one situations. The offensive end is a work in progress, and that is being incredibly kind, but he should have plenty of chances for put backs and lobs where he will likely find the majority of his points. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Noel averages around 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game or higher, numbers that will certainly find him named to the first team.
G: Marcus Smart- Boston Celtics
Smart has the talent to be on the first team but there is one person in his way, Rajon Rondo. There are plenty of rumors that Rondo will be traded but unless Danny Ainge gets an offer that knocks him off of his feet I don’t see him moving his best player. Smart will still get plenty of run however and could play alongside Rondo at times, helping him put up good enough numbers to make the second team in my opinion.
G: Nik Stauskus- Sacramento Kings
The Kings have two excellent players that represented their country in the World Cup this summer in DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay but outside of those two there isn’t much when it comes to proven NBA talent. Stauskus should be a very good player in the league however because of his versatility on the offensive end. At 6’6 he has good size for his position, is a very good playmaker with the ball in his hands, a good shooter with range out to the three point line and is a very good athlete as well to finish around the bucket. He could struggle guarding the better athletes in the league but his offensive game and the Kings dearth of talent means Stauskus will see the minutes necessary to put up good numbers.
F: KJ McDaniels- Philadelphia 76ers
KJ McDaniels should have been a first round pick in this past draft. He is an incredible athlete and can put that to use on both ends of the floor, showing the potential to be a very good one on one defender as well as an effective offensive player whether it be in the mid range game or getting out in transition to catch lobs and slam home missed shots. He also took a big risk in taking a lesser contract to have the chance at a better pay day sooner and I think he will be very motivated to prove the teams that passed on him wrong.
F: Julius Randle- Los Angeles Lakers
Randle plays in a crowded frontcourt with the Lakers but his versatility and motor should win the favor of his coach and most importantly Kobe Bryant to get him solid playing time. He looks like Charles Barkley at times, high praise for someone who is yet to play a regular season game in the league yes, but his ability to handle the ball at 6’9, 250 pounds is a sight to behold. It could be said that he relied too much on playing bully ball at Kentucky last season, backing down defenders that were overmatched by his size and agility, but he is more than just a bully. He is a skilled big man and by mid season he should solidify his spot in the rotation and put up good numbers.
F: Nikola Mirotic- Chicago Bulls
Mirotic was hyped as one of the best European players in recent years and finally this season the Chicago Bulls fans will have a chance to see him on the court. At 6’10 Mirotic could be a big matchup problem for the opposition as he is a phenomenal shooter out to the three point line and has the handle to make defenders pay for overplaying his jumper. The Bulls may not want to play two rookies all that much, as Tom Thibodeau noted the last team to win a title with two rookies playing 15 or more minutes per game was the 1974-75 Golden State Warriors, but their two rookies deserve that type of playing time and a potential pairing of Pau Gasol and Mirotic would be incredibly difficult for any team to match up against.