A draft that was supposed to be the best in over a decade has produced mixed results to start the 2014-2015 NBA season. While it’s very early to make a fully accurate assessment, this rookie class has yet to produce a true impact player.
Through nearly two weeks of games, no rookie is averaging 12 points, seven rebounds or seven assists per game. A foot injury could sideline No.3 overall pick Joel Embiid for the entire season, and Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle only played 14 minutes before suffering a broken leg that would end his rookie campaign.
Some of the top picks in the draft, like Dante Exum, Aaron Gordon and Doug McDermott, aren’t even playing 20 minutes a game. Others have started every contest and are seeing significant time on the court.
Below are early grades for the five rookies who have received the most attention entering the season.
Andrew Wiggins, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (9.2 ppg, 1.0 apg, 3.5 rpg)
Entering his freshman year at Kansas, Wiggins might have been among the most hyped prospects since LeBron James. While expectations remain high for the future of the first overall pick, one year of college basketball made it clear that he’ll need time to develop. Wiggins had a standout performance in a win against the Nets, scoring 17 points on 12 shot attempts. But he has not been an imposing offensive figure, scoring just a total of 16 points in losses to the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic last week, and his rebounding numbers could be a bit higher. Wiggins should improve as the season progresses.
Jabari Parker, SF, Milwaukee Bucks (11.6 ppg, 0.7 apg, 6.1 rpg)
The Bucks have played better than many might have thought, winning three of seven games and upending the undefeated Grizzlies, but Parker hasn’t been the immediate scorer that he was projected to be. His nearly 11.6 points per game leads all rookies, but he’s been incredibly inefficient, shooting 12.3 shots per game and just 41.9 percent from the field. Parker has rebounded at a high rate, leading rookies with 6.1 boards per game, but his fewer than one assist per game is poor for a player who may be called upon to more of a distributor. Once he finds his way to the free-throw line more, the 19-year-old should become a more efficient scorer.
Elfrid Payton, PG, Orlando Magic (8.0 ppg, 6.4 apg, 4.0 rpg)
The point guard has gotten as much responsibility as any rookie, leading all first-year players with 30.1 minutes per game. He’s done among the best job of any rookie filling the stat sheet, and his 6.4 assists per game make him the only rookie to rank in the top 15 of any major category. Still, he needs to improve his 34.4 field-goal shooting, and his eight points on over nine shots per game have not provided the Magic much of a lift.
Nerlens Noel, PF, Philadelphia 76ers (7.2 ppg, 2.6 apg, 5.6 rpg)
A torn ACL kept the No.6 pick of the 2013 draft out of all last season, but he’s been one of the best rookies in 2014. He’s second among first-year players with 5.6 rebounds and first with 1.8 blocks per game. A sprained left ankle has forced the big man to miss two games, and the 76ers remain winless through seven games, but his defense has made him a valuable asset to the NBA's worst team.
Bojan Bogdanovic, SG, Brooklyn Nets (10.0 ppg, 1.3 apg, 2.7 rpg)
Bogdanovic might be the early frontrunner to win the 2014 Rookie of the Year Award. He was drafted three years ago and finally made his way over to the United States, looking more "NBA ready" than any player who was taken in the 2014 draft. The shooting guard ranks second in points, and first in field-goal percentage among rookies playing at least 24 minutes per game. He’s started all six games for the 4-2 Nets, playing very efficient basketball. He could end the season as a solid contributor on a team that makes some noise in the playoffs.