The new NBA season means new rookies are on the block. It is too early to determine whether a draft class is loaded or a complete bust, but it is never too early to speculate which rookies will break outÂ this upcoming season.
EMMANUEL MUDIAY, G, DENVER NUGGETS (7thÂ overall)
After Ty Lawson (get well, Ty) was traded to Houston, it was obvious that Emmanuel Mudiay will run the show in the Mile High. Mudiay slipped down the draft mainly because people didnâ€™t see him play a lot the past year, and when he played, he played at the other side of the globe. He ran the pick and roll well during the Summer League and expect to see him to do it so during the season. He is the early favorite to win Rookie of the Year, a title that usually goes to the playersÂ with the best traditional stats and most minutes played.
JAHLIL OKAFOR, C, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (3rdÂ overall)
It will be intriguing to see if the scouts are right when they say “Big Jah” is only post moves and nothing after that.
His style of play is the complete opposite of the new NBA, and it should be interesting on how Philly plays him and how he plays on both sides of the court, seeing as he wasnâ€™t coveted as a two-way player. Either way, he will get a lot of minutes due to the unfortunate injury of Embiid, and he will also get a lot of touches because he is already one of Phildelphiaâ€™s three best players on the team.
Dâ€™ANGELO RUSSELL, PG, LA LAKERS (2ndÂ overall)
HopefullyÂ Dâ€™Angelo gets someÂ freedom to do his own thing this season, though it doesn’t seem likely.Â The LakersÂ lead the league in iso-ball players (Kobe, Lou-Will, Swaggy P)Â Not to mentionÂ he also needs to share the ball with Clarkson. Heâ€™s already fitting into the Hollywood lifestyle, taking advantage of what playing for the Lakers can do. Recently he used social media to make a move onÂ young pop star Zendaya.
KARL ANTHONY TOWNS, C, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (1stÂ overall)
Towns does everything well, from defending the paint to putting out great offensive production. If you havenâ€™t seen the short video of Towns and 2014 R.O.Y. Andrew Wiggins having a long-range, three-point shootout, look it up. The main questions are how many minutes will Towns play each game, and how will Flip Saunders play him?
Other rookies to watch:
JUSTISE WINSLOW, G/F, MIAMI HEAT (10thÂ overall)
Heat and Hornets passed up offers from Boston for their four first-rounders to draft this guy. Winslow should have a great structure and surroundings around him playing beside Wade, Bosh and learning under Riley and Spoelstra.
STANLEY JOHNSON, G/F, DETROIT PISTONS (8thÂ overall)
Heâ€™s been balling out since the Orlando Summer League and continues to impress people in the Drew League. Detroit got a bargain with him available at the 8thÂ slot.
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS, C/F, NEW YORK KNICKS (4thÂ overall)
MARIO HEZONJA, G/F, ORLANDO MAGIC (5thÂ overall)
Lay low on the criticism for these European dudes. Just admit that you havenâ€™t seen them play much, and check them out during the season. They both played in the second best league in the world and should flourish with the right development plan and system.
SECOND ROUND STEALS
These second-rounders are my early favorites to be the steals of the 2015 draft. All three of them should see a decent amount of playing time for their respective teams as they have high hopes for them.
NORMAN POWELL, G, TORONTO RAPTORS (46THÂ overall)
MONTREZL HARRELL, F, HOUSTON ROCKETS (32ndÂ overall)
JOSH RICHARDSON, G, MIAMI HEAT (40thÂ overall)