The Las Vegas Summer league gave us a very first impression of the “new blood” which will be released in the veins of the teams around the league. We’ve already seen some great performances from the top prospects, the players who entered the league at the top spots of the 2014 NBA Draft. So, who will be the most impressive rookie next season? Let’s examine a few of those youngsters.
No.1: Nerlens Noel
Now, Noel is not actually a rookie. He was selected at the sixth overall spot of the 2013 draft after lots of rumours and mock drafts placed him at the top of the draft. Now, after missing the entire 2013 – 2014 season due to an injury, Noel has already shown some great signs during the Summer League. He is making his presence felt and he will definitely be one of the top candidates for Rookie of the Year award next season.
No.2: Andrew Wiggins
We still don’t know in which team Andrew Wiggins will be playing next season. We assume he will be playing in Cleveland, alongside – or behind – LeBron James, if he doesn’t end up getting traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love. What we do know for sure is that Wiggins will be one of the top young players next season, if not the best one. In Las Vegas, he has showcased just a few of his skills and of course his insane athleticism. At the moment Wiggins seems to be the most impactful player out of the 2014 rookie class.
No.3: Jabari Parker
Parker was considered as the most NBA-ready player to enter the NBA this summer. During the Summer League, he didn’t manage to prove that but of course, he put up great numbers. He will definitely have a unique chance to shine in Milwaukee, as the Bucks are in rebuilding mode and they will offer Parker plenty of minutes, most probably a starting job, too. Parker and Wiggins will have an opportunity to steal the show next season, with Joel Embiid sidelined, at least at the first part of the 2014 – 2015 season.
No.4: Dante Exum
Exum entered the league this summer being one of the biggest mysteries of the 2014 draft class. Although Exum didn’t really make that much of a difference during the Summer League, he will get much playing time with the Utah Jazz. So, we can expect a gradual improvement of his performance through the season and numbers even better than the ones he put up in Las Vegas.
Other prospects – underdogs
It will be a surprise to see the Rookie of the Year award to be handed to a player out of those top four prospects. However, there are some dark horses in this race. One of those is Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Julius Randle. The 6’9” youngster was projected to have a significant role in the Lakers’ rotation next season but the recent additions of Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis will make this a bit more difficult.
Elfrid Payton from the Orlando Magic is another prospect who is causing lots of pairs of eyes pointing towards his direction. He did record some notable performances during the Summer League and he will, too, have a great chance to shine next season in Orlando.
Google Trends for the last 90 days shows Andrew Wiggins leading in internet searches.