NBA Rookie of the Year race is wide open

No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis of the Hornets has been hampered by injuries. But other first-year players have stepped up to become contenders for the award.
By John Rohde Published: December 8, 2012
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Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, the No. 7 pick out of North Carolina, became an immediate starter and already has a key role for the upstart Warriors.

Many of the aforementioned are on lousy teams, which obviously is why they were drafted so high in the first place.

Having good numbers on a bad team is a minimum requirement for Rookie of the Year consideration. Having average numbers on a bad team doesn't reflect much of an impact. Impressive numbers on a horrid team frequently gets you the award, however, as 2008 winner Kevin Durant can attest.

Barnes is the only notable rookie this season with a winning record (12-7 entering Saturday night).

Two other notables are on .500 teams: Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Alexey Shved, an undrafted Russian free agent who signed last July; and Milwaukee forward John Henson, the No. 14 overall pick out of North Carolina.

Other than that, all losers, but in the end, someone will win.

Right now, it's Lillard comfortably in front.

TWEETABLE

Lillard (@Dame_Lillard): “Don't tweet me with ANY advice if you haven't played a second of NBA basketball. Thanks”

QUOTABLE

Lillard, explaining why his three favorite NBA point guards are Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose: “I like Russell Westbrook just because of how competitive he is and how he's turned out to be something people didn't expect him to be.”



RATING THE ROOKIES

TIER 1

G Damian Lillard, Portland: 19 games-19 starts; 37.9 minutes; 19.3 points; 3.3 rebounds; 6.3 assists; 1.3 steals

F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte: 18-18; 27.4 mpg; 10.8 ppg; 6.3 rpg; 1.7 apg, 1.3 blocks; 1.0 spg

G Dion Waiters, Cleveland: 17-17; 32.0 mpg; 15.2 ppg; 2.3 rpg; 3.4 apg; 1.2 spg

C Anthony Davis, New Orleans: 6-6; 28.3 mpg; 16.0 ppg; 8.3 rpg; 2.2 bpg; 1.0 spg

F Harrison Barnes, Golden State: 19-19; 27.6 mpg; 9.6 ppg; 4.7 rpg; 1.5 apg

TIER 2

G Alexey Shved, Minnesota: 18-0; 24.8 mpg; 10.6 ppg; 2.7 rpg; 3.6 apg

C Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto: 20-20; 23.4 mpg; 8.6 ppg; 5.5 rpg; 1.2 apg; 1.2 bpg

G Bradley Beal, Washington: 16-14; 27.1 mpg; 11.4 ppg; 3.2 rpg; 1.9 apg

F Andre Drummond, Detroit: 21-0; 17.9 mpg; 6.4 ppg; 6.4 rpg; 1.2 apg

F John Henson, Milwaukee: 13-5; 12.5 mpg; 5.2 ppg; 3.3 rpg; 0.5 bpg

TIER 3

F Kyle Singler, Detroit: 21-13; 27.3 mpg; 9.5 ppg; 3.5 rpg; 0.9 apg

C Tyler Zeller, Cleveland: 16-0; 21.9 mpg; 6.8 ppg; 5.1 rpg; 0.9 apg

G Austin Rivers, New Orleans: 17-9; 27.1 mpg; 6.6 ppg; 2.4 rpg; 2.9 apg

G Brian Roberts, New Orleans: 18-0; 15.9 mpg; 7.9 ppg; 1.0 rpg; 2.5 apg

F Jeff Taylor, Charlotte: 17-16; 25.9 mpg; 7.9 ppg; 2.4 rpg; 1.0 apg; 1.1 spg

Source: NBA stats

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