Rookie Class Ready for NBA Start

Dylan Pulver

The draft class of 2013 is ready to find its role in the NBA. While this year’s new crop of NBA rookies may not boast many players who will reach stardom, there are many quality role-players from this past draft who look to live up to their potential and help out their new teams.

Anthony Bennett – 1st Pick – Cleveland Cavaliers – PF/SF:This year’s No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, was quite a surprising one. Not that there was a consensus No. 1, but Bennett doesn’t project to be the amazing talent that Cleveland might think he is. Bennett will likely come off the bench behind Tristan Thompson in his rookie season. Look for him to provide a solid amount of scoring and rebounding and possibly be the centerpiece of the Cavs’ bench unit.

Victor Oladipo – 2nd Pick – Orlando Magic – SG/PG: Victor Oladipo is looking like a strong candidate for the 2014 Rookie of the Year award. Oladipo had a solid Summer League showing despite playing out of his usual shooting guard position. He is a lock-down defender and one of the most athletic guys from the 2013 Draft. Oladipo will probably start at guard slot by the end of the season if not from the very beginning. Expect him to lead this rebuilding Orlando squad, set the tone for their play, and be a

cornerstone in their future.

Otto Porter  – 3rd Pick – Washington Wizards – SF: After two years at Georgetown, Otto Porter has developed his scoring and rebounding prowess enough to show it off in the NBA, even though he did not do well in the preseason. However, while he might be able to start right away, he will not get any substantial opportunities with the Wizards this year, as they have two well-proven players at his position: Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster, their breakout shooter from last season. Porter will probably be able to show up in spurts, but not for the whole season.

Cody Zeller – 4th Pick – Charlotte Bobcats – PF/C: Whether or not Cody Zeller starts next to the Bobcats’ latest shameless splurge for relevance, big man acquisition Al Jefferson, or comes off the bench, he will thrive this year. As Zeller showed at Indiana, he can score with ease and take charge on the boards. Expect Zeller, who is also known for his high basketball IQ, to either be a go-to option off the Bobcats’ bench or a valuable cog in their starting lineup.

Alex Len – 5th Pick – Phoenix Suns – C: A week ago, there was not too positive of an outlook for Alex Len’s development with the Suns. However, now that the Suns traded their prized center Marcin Gortat to the Wizards for Emeka Okafor, who is out for at least three more months, Len will have plenty of room on Phoenix’s front line to shine. He did, however, sit out for much of the offseason because of his second ankle surgery of the year, but has looked okay throughout the preseason. With time, Len should develop into a rebounding, scoring and blocking machine on this somewhat hapless Suns team.

C.J. McCollum – 10th Pick – Portland Trail Blazers – SG/PG:C.J. McCollum will not be able to help his fellow Trail Blazers at the start of the 2013-2014 season, as he will still be out from foot surgery he received in early October. However, when McCollum does return to the court, watch out. He will help the Blazers’ bench with his scoring prowess, rebounding abilities and playmaking instincts. In fact, because he can play both guard positions and is coming off four years of dominance at a small school, he is receiving comparisons to none other than his teammate, current Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. McCollum should have a similar impact as Lillard has when he plays.

Kelly Olynyk – 13th Pick – Boston Celtics – C/PF: Kelly Olynyk exploded onto the scene at Gonzaga in his senior year. After playing modest minutes in his first two years and being redshirted the next year, Olynyk averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a 2012-2013 junior. He also surprised many scouts with his versatility, and especially his touch outside the arc, during the Orlando Summer League. Olynyk should provide some nice scoring and floor spacing while he is on the court this season with the Celtics.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – 15th Pick – Milwaukee Bucks – SG/SF:Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the most intriguing prospect of the draft class of 2013. The “Greek Freak” picked up basketball five years ago, reached 6’9″ just a few months ago and is only 18 years old. He has a ton of potential, with not just his athletic ability and extraordinary length, but his willingness to work hard and learn from his peers. This year’s Bucks could definitely use an extra spark in their playoff push, and Giannis, in his first NBA season, will hopefully be able to provide that.