Most Surprising Rookies from the 2013 NBA Draft
With the regular season officially over, it’s safe to say that the 2013 NBA Draft wasn’t one of the most memorable in years.
And for those of you that don’t believe me, take a look at these numbers:
- -For the first time since 2001, the top pick (Anthony Bennett) averaged less than 5 points a game.
- -Only 4 rookies averaged double figures in scoring.
- -Only 5 rookies registered a PER above the league average of 15. (via ESPN)
See what I mean?
But even with the draft class being as bad as it was, some franchises made it out okay, and were actually successful in snagging hidden talent that no other scouts saw coming.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Knicks,
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 24
Since joining the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. has exceeded all expectations, evolving into a legitimate option off the bench and proving to scouts he’s more than just a three-point chucker.
This season the former Wolverine ranked 4th in scoring, 2nd in free throw percentage (minimum 1 attempt per game) and fifth in three point field goal percentage – all promising signs for a perimeter oriented player.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks,
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 15
Heading into last year’s draft, no one knew what to make of Greek point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Proponents would argue he’s an extremely versatile player with superb physical tools and boatloads of potential, while adversaries suggested he’s far too raw and unlikely to succeed at the next level without a few more years overseas.
Fast forward to now and there’s no question this kid would have been taken in the top 10, maybe even the top 5 given his production this season. His stats may not scream superstar, but he’s definitely shown the upside of one so far.
Mason Plumlee, Nets
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 22
Guess who led all rookies in PER this season?
No it wasn’t Victor Oladipo or Michael Carter-Williams… it was actually Nets big man Mason Plumlee.
The former Duke Blue Devil had a strong rookie campaign, ranking 5th in rebounds per game, second in blocks per game and first in field goal percentage, shooting an astounding 65.9 percent from the field.
It’s too bad this is the last rookie the Nets will have for the foreseeable future.
Ryan Kelly, Lakers
Drafted: Round 2, Pick 48
Maybe he’s just another product of Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense, but Ryan Kelly still appears to be one of the better rookies in this class, after averaging 8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game.
He has excellent size for a power forward at 6’11”, and can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting, knocking downs treys at an impressive 33.8 percent clip.
It just remains to be seen whether or not he will receive the same amount of playing time going into next season.
Nate Wolters, Bucks
Drafted: Round 2, Pick 38
Thanks to Brandon Knight’s injury at the beginning of the season, Wolters emerged as one of the better point guards in this class, averaging 8.5 points to go along with 3.6 assists
in 31 starts for the Bucks.
But what’s even more impressive is his 3.28 assist-to-turnover ratio, which shows Wolters not only can rack up assists in a hurry but do so with immense proficiency.
Even if he never gets the opportunity to lead a team, expect this guy to be in the league for a long time.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops