By Koby Weisman
The NBA season began on October 28 and so far fans are excited by what they have seen from the talented rookie class. Some big names from top collegiate programs highlight the group, however there are some unfamiliar names that have also shined in the beginning portion of the regular season. Some of these players could turn out to be all-stars, while others may fall off the grid, but for now, here are the top five rookies in the NBA this season.
1. Jabari Parker, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Selected with the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, Parker has been the best rookie so far this season. The Chicago native is the only rookie with multiple doubledoubles and is also the only player to average over 10 points per game. The 6foot8 forward has definitely played up to expectations. Parker led his high school team, Simeon Career Academy, to four straight state titles and according to ESPN, was the second ranked recruit out of high school. Parker was named an All-American in his freshmen year at Duke before declaring for the draft. Parker, who leads all rookies in points and rebounds per game, has the basketball knowledge and talent to become a future AllStar.
2. Nerlens Noel, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Noel is already one of the premier shot blockers in the NBA because of his tremendous length. The former Kentucky Wildcat is listed at 6 foot 11, but has a wingspan of 7 feet and 4 inches. He was picked in the 2013 draft, but was sidelined all of last season to recover from knee surgery. According to ESPN, Noel was the number one recruit in the 2012 high school class, and was projected to be the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft before tearing his ACL. Noel is ranked in the top six in all major statistical categories among rookies. He averages 7.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. He ranks first in the rookie class in both steals and blocks per game. With the size and talent he possesses, Noel is destined to be a dominant force in the paint for years to come.
3. Elfrid Payton, PG, Orlando Magic
Payton is a rising star who is currently flying under the radar. Payton had success in college at the University of LouisianaLafayette, but many weren’t sure whether his fantastic numbers were due to his talent or the lack of competition. As a guard Payton ranks fifth amongst all rookies in rebounds per game and eighth in blocks per game. The 6foot4 point guard is lengthy for his position and creates mismatches, but the most impressive part of Payton’s game is his
vision. He averages 6.0 assists per game, which is more than double what the next closest rookie averages. The Magic clearly have a talented passfirst point guard, which has become a dying breed in the NBA.
4. K.J. McDaniels, SF, Philadelphia 76ers
McDaniels has been the surprise rookie of the year. Picked in the early second round by the Sixers, McDaniels has been a shockingly efficient scorer. He averages 9.3 points per game (third among rookies) and is the second ranked rookie in blocks. During his last season at Clemson, McDaniels won ACC defensive player of the year and averaged over 17 points per game. McDaniels is an undersized small forward (listed at 6foot6), but has deceptively long arms. His wingspan is 6’11”, which is why he is such a force on defense. McDaniels is set to thrive on the struggling—but talented—76ers.
5. Andrew Wiggins, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Wiggins is the face of the rookie class. He was the number one ranked prospect out of high school and was selected with the number one overall pick by the Cavaliers. Soon after, he was traded to the Timberwolves for former fifth overall pick and threetime NBA allstar, Kevin Love. Wiggins is a freak of nature; he has a 44-inch vertical and a seven-foot wingspan. He is still a bit raw, but
has performed well so far this season, averaging 9.2 points per game (fourth among rookies) and 3.5 rebounds per game (sixth among rookies). Wiggins has the potential to be a star in the NBA, but being on the struggling Timberwolves may prevent him from developing the necessary skills.
All statistics are current as of November 11, 2014