The 2014 NBA draft certainly passes the eye test and has a chance to go down as one of the best classes of the last decade. Some of the league's newcomers will need some time before they come into their own and we'll have to wait on Joel Embiid as he potentially sits out the entire season following foot surgery, but some of these young guns are ready to rock n' roll right away and make an immediate impact.
Let's take a look at who could potentially be the top 10 rookie performers of the 2014-15 NBA season.
Jabari Parker (MIL)
Preseason Stats - 15.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 41.2% FG
Of all the promising rookies coming into the NBA this season, Jabari Parker may be the most ready of them all. He is already a guy you can feature as a primary offensive option and he has a very mature approach to the game for a 19-year-old. Parker can create his own shot in isolation situations, he is a dynamite triple-threat scorer, he has excellent footwork in the post, he can put the ball on the floor, he will be able to get to the free throw line quite a bit and he is an active rebounder with a big body to throw around in the paint.
His high skill level and versatility will buy him a lot of minutes right away, and he has a good chance of leading the Bucks in scoring this season. He even shed some weight and got in better shape over the summer. As his outside shot becomes more consistent, the sky is the limit for Parker’s long-term potential. He’s a big time talent and you can expect him to produce at a high level from the jump.
Parker is the early favorite to take home the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year trophy.
Andrew Wiggins (MIN)
Preseason Stats - 11.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 41% FG
Andrew Wiggins will have to fight for extended minutes on the wing, as veterans Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer won't be giving their spots up easily, but you can expect the number one overall pick to get plenty of opportunities. At age 19, Wiggins is raw and has a long way to go but he is a remarkably athletic freak of a specimen that will show flashes of brilliance on both ends of the court.
His athleticism and 7'0" wingspan will allow him to cover a lot of ground and make plays defensively, and it certainly won't hurt having Ricky Rubio around to set the table for him on the other end while Wiggins improves as a shot creator. Whether he comes off the bench or earns the starting spot as the season progresses, Wiggins is going to be a big part of what the Timberwolves do.
Nerlens Noel (PHI)
Preseason Stats - 8.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.5 BPG, 2.3 SPG, 35.1% FG
After a torn ACL forced him to miss the entire 2013-14 season, Nerlens Noel is back healthy and ready to begin his NBA career. The 76ers need as much to look forward to as possible, and Noel's phenomenal defensive potential will help ease the pain from the number in the loss column. Noel is one of the top defensive prospects to come out of the draft in recent years, which is exciting going forward alongside a healthy Joel Embiid. On the offensive end, Noel has a lot to work on but he can finish at and above the rim and runs the floor very well. Although he was the sixth overall pick in 2013, Noel is eligible for this season's Rookie of the Year award; don't be surprised if he makes a case for it.
Marcus Smart (BOS)
Preseason Stats - 8.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.4 SPG, 31.7% FG
More on Marcus Smart
More on Marcus Smart
How can you not be excited about Marcus Smart in green? Smart's NFL-like 6'3" body, elite lateral quickness and attack mentality combine to produce arguably the top perimeter defender in this draft class and he has a chance to develop into a big time two-way game changer.
While Smart has to become more consistent with his outside shot, his jumper has shown improvement and he has a lot of potential as an attack guard that can do some damage bullying smaller guards in the post. Most importantly, he's ready to play and contribute right away. The Celtics have a deep cast of quality perimeter players, but Brad Stevens will have a hard time keeping Smart off the floor this season.
Doug McDermott (CHI)
Preseason Stats - 7.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 35.1% FG
They don't call him Dougie McBuckets for nothing, the man can get buckets. McDermott will play a consistent role and provide a quality offensive spark for the Bulls along with fellow rookie Nikola Mirotic. The 2013-14 NCAA scoring leader will help Chicago space the floor, he can play the pick n' roll/pop game with Rose and he has a chance to win a lot of minutes as a rookie this season. McDermott isn't necessarily an elite athlete, but he is more athletic than he looks and he is a very skilled offensive player that will be able to help the Bulls right away.
Julius Randle (LAL)
Preseason Stats - 8.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 46.3% FG
Outside of Kobe Bryant's return, the Lakers don't have a whole lot to look forward to in the near-future. However, they were able to land a very promising piece in the draft over the summer in Julius Randle. Strapped with a unique skill set, Randle is an extremely versatile forward with a high motor that can score with his back to the basket, face up, put the ball on the floor, stick a mid-range J, pass the ball well out of double-teams and rebound at a high level. Of the handful of players from the 2014 draft that have a chance to blossom into All-Star caliber ballplayers, Randle is one of them. With LA's thin bench and Carlos Boozer's injury history, you can expect the former Kentucky Wildcat to get plenty of chances to play as a rookie
Aaron Gordon (ORL)
Preseason Stats - 8.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 46.4% FG
From a physical standpoint, Aaron Gordon is as intriguing as any player coming into the NBA this season. An extremely mobile 6'9" with a vertical leap hovering around the 40-inch mark, Gordon is comparable to Blake Griffin in terms of athletic ability and when you combine that with his high motor, you have a strong chance at turning into an impact player.
Gordon isn't much of a shot creator or shooter, but he's one of those active athletes that can affect the game without ever having a play run for him. Tobias Harris and Channing Frye are likely to start alongside Nikola Vucevic up front, but Gordon will get plenty of playing time off the bench at both forward positions.
Kyle Anderson (SA)
Preseason Stats - 9.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 50% FG
Kyle Anderson isn't anywhere near the most athletic player in this year's rookie class, in fact his nickname is "Slow Mo," but he is a very high IQ player with a complete set of skills. I will never understand how he fell all the way down to the bottom of the first round, but it looks like the Spurs have landed yet another draft night gem. The 6'9" point-forward brings a lot to the table as an efficient scorer that can knock down an open shot, a big time creator with the ball with excellent court vision, a strong rebounder from the perimeter and a smart player that plays the game the right way. Anderson is a very well-rounded player in a perfect situation in San Antonio, and he is ready to contribute from the get-go if he gets a chance to play as much as he did in preseason.
Elfrid Payton (ORL)
Preseason Stats - 6.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 41.7% FG
It looks like Orlando's starting point guard spot is Luke Ridnour's to lose for the time being, but 10th overall pick Elfrid Payton will see heavy minutes and should have a chance to win the job before the end of the season. The long-armed, active 6'4" point shows a great deal of upside on the defensive end of the floor and he brings a lot of intangibles to the table that any coach would love. You can expect Payton to have a lot of early success in pick n' roll situations as well as the drive-and-kick game, and he has a chance to make a positive impact on both ends of the floor.
Nik Stauskas (SAC)
Preseason Stats - 9.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 44.4% FG, 39.1% 3FG
Everyone knows Nik Stauskas as a lights out shooter, but there's a little bit more to him than that. Stauskas has a high basketball IQ and while he is not an elite athlete, he has the ability to make plays with the ball. It looks like he could be practically splitting minutes with starter Ben McLemore at the two-guard spot, and Sacramento could certainly use a sharpshooter like Stauskas to help space the floor and open up the middle for guys like DeMarcus Cousins to go to work.
Other Rookies to Keep Your Eye On
Noah Vonleh (CHA)
P.J. Hairston (CHA)
K.J. McDaniels (PHI)
Shabazz Napier (MIA)
Dante Exum (UTA)
Bojan Bogdanovic (BK)
Which rookies do you think will step in and make an immediate impact? Who are you most looking forward to?