As the NBA Summer League comes to an end, this is an appropriate time to look back and reflect on the rookies from all the drafts this century. What better way than to form a list?
18/17) Ben Simmons (LSU), Markelle Fultz (Washington)
There is a reason these two are tied for last, and it’s not because I believe they’re the two worst here. The simple reason for them being last is either they have yet to make an impact within the NBA. While both may play a huge role in the success of their franchise, it just simply hasn’t been proven yet. Simmons, nor Fultz, have competed in a single NBA regular season game, and that’s the biggest reason they are tied for last on this list. Both have the potential to be great, but as of now, they have done nothing in order to prove themselves.
16) Andrea Bargnani (Benetton Treviso)
He started his career off hot, living up to his given initial hype. He was boarding and shooting well, which went noticed during his rookie campaign.
However, after getting emergency surgery late in the season, he was never the quite the same. In his second season, Bargnani took a large drop off, specifically in his points and rebounds, and saw a large increase in his fouls per game. Due to this, he has found himself ranked #16 on the list.
15) Kwame Brown (Glynn Academy)
This is an interesting case. In his first season, Brown had a decent rookie year, and in his sophomore year, he even saw improvement. Brown would build upon those two years, and even elevate his level of play during his third season. Looks promising, right?
From that point forward, Brown took a drastic decline, declined a long-term contract, and just floated around the NBA. He would never return to his former state, earning himself 15th on this list.
14) Anthony Bennett (UNLV)
Bennett only at fourteen? Yes, I know, but hear me through. Bennett was not ready to be taken #1, nor should he have been. This was a mistake on the Cavs part, as he simply didn’t have the potential or raw skill to be a cornerstone player for a franchise. Overall, Bennett was doomed from the beginning, and was given too high of expectations.
13) Greg Oden (Ohio State)
Greg Oden is considered by many as the biggest bust ever, but I don’t agree. Oden was a talented player, who was just doomed by consistent injuries.
When he was on the court, Oden showed glimpses of promise. Due to being sidelined, he never got to live those out. If it would have been an attitude issue, the case on Oden would be different. With the topic of injuries being out of his control, it’s hard to hold that against him.
12) Kenyon Martin (Cincinnati)
Kenyon Martin is interesting. He started his career off hot, making the All-Star team, two NBA Finals, and even the honors of being placed on the All-rookie Team within his first three years in the league.
However, after a knee injury, everything went downhill. The surprising part was, the injury wasn’t the problem. The attitude of Martin seemed to be the problem, as he got himself suspended during the playoffs with the Denver Nuggets. Due to that, we have him at #12.
11) Andrew Bogut (Utah)
Andrew Bogut has always been an underrated player, however, he hasn’t played like a #1 pick. Bogut is most known for his work on the 2015 and 2016 Warriors, but even then, his work was sub-par. Although he isn’t known for having attitude issues, Bogut is stashed at #11.
10) Yao Ming (Shanghai Sharks)
Yao Ming at #10? Yes, and I have good reasoning for this. The legacy of Yao Ming isn’t what he did on the court, considering within his best years, he was on a Rockets team that was essentially carried by Tracy McGrady.
Instead, his legacy is how he connected China and the NBA, which was huge. This list, however, is ranking their level of play on the court, and as that goes, he was average at best.
9) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)
Andrew Wiggins is great, and there is no doubt about it, but he’s played with Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine, so it’s hard to sit here and say he’s better than some of these guys who haven’t been blessed with such talented teammates. This is no knock on Wiggins, as I do feel he will lead his team into the future, along Towns.
8) Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)
Blake Griffin is in the same boat as Andrew Wiggins here. He has been blessed to play alongside DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, but with that said, he has been also been able to show his individual greatness straight out of the gate with his powerful dunks.
However, Griffin has been able to also work on adding a mid-range and a three-point game to his arsenal this past season, which could help elevate his level of play.
7) Kyrie Irving (Duke)
Kyrie, much like aforementioned names, has been blessed to play with one of the greatest basketball players of all-time for a majority of his career, LeBron James.
Yet, he’s been able to prove himself with his insane, Allen Iverson-like handles, his bold driving ability, and his clutch gene, which scores him at #7.
6) Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky)
Karl-Anthony Towns is at #6 already? Yes, because throughout his career, Towns has been able to do everything and more you would want as a starting center.
He’s a walking double-double machine in terms of rebounds and points, meaning he can grab the boards and translate them into points. At that, Towns can score just about anywhere on the court, from the post to the three-point line, which adds so much more value to his game.
The best part about his game? For a center, Towns has overwhelming handles, and can bring the ball up the court and create his own shot when need be.
5) Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
Anthony Davis is below John Wall? Yes I know, it’s far-fetched to some, but I only put him at #5 because he hasn’t gotten his team anywhere quite yet. While he has more individual accomplishments than Wall, Wall has been able to carry his team deep into the playoffs on multiple occasions.
4) John Wall, Kentucky
This explanation will pick off where the last one stopped. John Wall has been able to take over and literally carry the Washington Wizards, on offense and defense. If you are a GM in the NBA, you would want to draft a player that will get you into the postseason, and as of now, Anthony Davis hasn’t done that.
3) Derrick Rose, Memphis
It’s hard to ignore Rose’s MVP award, and that’s exactly why he’s #3. When Rose was healthy, to say he was amazing is an understatement. He was virtually impossible to guard, but staying healthy was his problem. On top of the fact that he couldn’t stay healthy, and has yet to see the NBA Finals, greatly hinders his list of accolades compared to the names above him.
2) Dwight Howard (Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy)
Aside from his DPOTY awards, Howard’s ability to carry the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals as a center is mind-boggling, especially considering he had to beat LeBron to get there. In comparison, Dwight Howard is very much like Anthony Davis.
He has the individual accomplishments, and was able to translate those accomplishments and awards to franchise success. Although his team got spanked in the Finals, he still got them there, which puts him at #2 on the list.
1) LeBron James (St. Vincent-St. Mary HS)
Do I really need to explain this one? James has 4 MVP’s, 8 Finals appearances, 3 NBA Titles, 3 NBA Finals MVP, won ROTY, has 2 Gold Medals, 13 All-NBA teams, a scoring title, and 6 All-Defensive teams. No one on this list can touch his accomplishments, nor has the ability to carry a team and play the 1-5 positions. This was the easiest selection on the entire list.
Picture Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports
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