Once the first ball is tossed into the the air (horribly, in all likelihood), draft position, college team, signing bonus, and hype all go out the window. On Tuesday, October 29, 2013, we'll finally begin to see who's ready to fulfill their dreams and make it in the NBA.
Here are five incoming rookies that are in the best position to make an impact right away:
5. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
And in comes KCP to join an already interesting collection of talent. The former Georgia star is used to carrying the load by himself. He was the only good player on a subpar Georgia team and the rest of the SEC knew it. They planned defenses around stopping him but failed to do so. The Bulldogs didn't win a whole lot, but when they did, Caldwell-Pope was the reason why.
No doubt he'll have to work hard to make it in the NBA, but Caldwell-Pope should benefit from a decreased role. He is not much of a playmaker and now will be able to play off the ball while Knight or Monroe break down opposing defenses. His offensive game once he has the ball in his hands is NBA ready and all he'll need to do next year is be a complementary scorer.
4. Mason Plumlee
Plumlee is the perfect addition for such a situation. He's young and plays with energy. He runs the floor and works hard on both ends. He has developed some post skills but will likely get the majority of his points by finding openings for dump-offs and crashing the offensive boards.
Now that Plumlee has spent a good chunk of his life with Coack K at Duke, the Nets brass must trust that he would come in prepared. This isn't some project player that needs his hand held. The Nets needed someone who knows the game and could immediately contribute after Kris Humphries, one of the team's go-to scrappers, was shipped to Boston as part of the blockbuster trade.
3. Tony Snell
Snell climbed up draft boards leading up to last week's draft and the Bulls are happy he didn't climb up any more. He's not a sexy pick but has 'solid' written all over him. And that's all he needs to be for a Bulls team that ran low on bodies during their most recent playoff run. He's currently behind Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler on the depth chart, but Deng has been in various trade rumors and Snell could find himself thrown into the rotation.
Snell has small forward skills but didn't explode onto the scene largely because he went to New Mexico. He also didn't put up monster numbers in college. A major criticism of Snell is that he wasn't assertive on offense even though he had the size and shooting stroke to get a good shot off almost at will.
But that fits right into the Bulls system. Defense, teamwork, effort, and defense are the name of game in Chicago and Snell should fit right in. And he can shoot, something that really would have helped them down the stretch in 2013-14. In the final two games of their conference tournament, Snell hit five threes in both games and carried the Lobos to a conference championship.
2. Otto Porter
I know I'm not going out on a limb here by saying that the third overall pick and the a consensus first-team All-American will have a good year, but he is going to the Wizards, so we shouldn't take anything for granted.
The Porter selection was a no-brainer. He has skills that will complement a roster that already looks poised to make a run at the eighth seed in the East and his floor, according to all the flooring experts out there, is pretty high. The main concern for some is that he and the Hoyas laid a stinker in the NCAA Tournament...again. But we've learned over and over through the years that draft stock shouldn't be overly affected by March performance, even if it's the last thing we get to see during a college career.
He shot 48% from the floor last season at Georgetown and bumped his 3PT% up to 42% from 22% the previous season. He also defends and rebounds at a high level, two things you need from a small forward in the NBA. In conclusion, he's long, he's strong, and he seems down to get his 8-seed on.
1. Trey Burke
Many expected that Burke would be off the board long before Minnesota picked at No. 9, but he slipped and Utah took advantage. They flipped a couple later picks for Burke and got their point guard of the future. And a year after Mo Williams and Jamaal Tinsley were the team's primary point guards, Burke may be the point guard of the present too.
Randy Foye and Gordon Hayward are established shooters and Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors are young players that will benefit from improved PG play. Even if Burke doesn't put up monster stats, the addition of a reliable point guard, who can run the team down the stretch, will really help a team that almost made the playoffs last year.
Clearly Tyrone Corbin can coach 'em up and Burke is a natural leader and playmaker that should be able to take them to the next level right away. His leadership and maturity combined with a team that did surprisingly well last season is a recipe for mutual success.