Thought You`d all find this interesting
By David Park
With the NBA season roughly a month and a half away, here's a look at what to look for from the rookie class in my first installment of Top 10 Rookies, Preseason Edition. Enjoy.
Photo: Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images
1) PG Chris Paul - New Orleans Hornets
Sure, the Hornets will most likely be one of the league's doormats and right back in the lottery again next season, but they now have a a young playmaker to build around for the future. Add in a healthy Jamal Magloire and an improving SG in J.R. Smith and you have some real building blocks. Plus with the addition of European sharpshooter Arvydas Macijauskas, look for Chris Paul to put up some quality numbers, especially with Speedy Claxton as the only other playmaker on this team and Dan Dickau in Boston. Look for Paul to really take advantage of this great opportunity.
2) PG Deron Williams - Utah Jazz
Andrei Kirilenko should start the season in full health, Carlos Boozer should be more comfortable with his new teammates; all the pieces are in place for Deron Williams to have a stellar rookie season. Williams has never been a statistical beast but look for the Jazz to improve drastically from last season in the winning column. Williams is hard nosed, plays great defense and will create easier scoring opportunities for everyone else on the floor. Though Williams has the pressure of creating his own legacy in the shadow of the great John Stockton, look for Williams to instantly make the Jazz an improved team.
3) PG Sarunas Jasikevicius - Indiana Pacers
This former Terrapin and two-time MVP in Europe should be an instant contributor to the Pacers this season. He is a seasoned professional, and being technically a rookie in the NBA, he should benefit from being on a loaded Pacers team. They will also be getting Ron Artest back from his season-long suspension and a picked up another solid rookie in Danny Granger. The Pacers will sorely miss Reggie Miller's leadership and 3-point shooting, but look for Jasikevicius to team up with Jamal Tinsley to form one of the best PG rotations in the league and to help compensate for Reggie's 3-point shooting. His stats maybe not jump out at you this season but look for Jasikevicius to be an integral part of Indiana's success this season. He's just a winner.
4) SG Rashad McCants - Minnesota Timberwolves
Okay we all know you can't figure this guy out but lets be honest, neither have most defenders. When he's focused he is a deadly scorer that coaches must account for. The Timberwolves are welcoming seven new players and the shooting guard position is wide open due to the departures of Latrell Sprewell and Fred Hoiberg. McCants will have every chance to win the starting job at shooting guard and even if he does not start, there is no reason why he should not be playing at least 25 minutes per game this season. Look for McCants to put up solid offensive numbers and if he can improve on his defense, look for him to become the starter in Minnesota for many seasons to come.
5) PF Ike Diogu - Golden State Warriors
Diogu should be great for the Warriors. Troy Murphy and Adonal Foyle are both very active on the boards but Diogu will bring an added tenacity of the boards that the Warriors' frontline has lacked. Diogu does not need the ball to score and with Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Mike Dunleavy already entrenched in their positions; he will be welcomed with open arms so they can freely jack up jumpers knowing they have a great offensive rebounder down low. The Warriors finished last season very strong and look for them to pick up where they left off last season with Diogu getting a healthy share of minutes.
6) PF Charlie Villanueva - Toronto Raptors
The most highly criticized lottery pick is ready to cook some crow for everyone. After flirting with the NBA after high school, one of the best things to happen to Villanueva was to get labeled as a second round pick by scouts after his private workout he had with eventual first round pick Ndudi Ebi. Villanueva decided to go to college and work on his game under Jim Calhoun. Villanueva has always had incredible talent both inside and on the perimeter, he just needed some seasoning in college and some frontcourt studs (Okafor, Josh Boone, Rudy Gay) to push him in practice and to receive some solid coaching. On a struggling Raptors team, playing time should be there in abundance for Charlie despite playing the same position as the team's centerpiece: Chris Bosh. Both players versatility should allow for plenty of minutes for Charlie with a big lineup on the floor, or with Bosh playing center as he has in past years.
7) PF Sean May - Charlotte Bobcats
The reigning NCAA Final Four's most outstanding player did not miss a step this summer as he led the Rocky Mountain Revue in scoring and rebounding in willing the Bobcats to a league-best 4-2 record. Some scouts still feel he is not athletic and long enough to be a legitimate post threat in the NBA, but he is winning over critics with every performance. He has also made good on his promise to get in better shape and slim down for the upcoming season according to recent reports out of Charlotte. Combined with Emeka Okafor's shot blocking and rebounding tenacity, look for these two to help Charlotte improve on their 18 win season. He's expected to be back at full strength once the season begins following recent arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
8) C Andrew Bogut - Milwaukee Bucks
The overall number one pick in last year's draft will be the target of many opposing defenses, though the trio of Michael Redd, Bobby Simmons and Desmond Mason will get the lion's share of attention. Bogut played admirably for the Australian National team in the Olympics in 2004, yet I am not sold on Bogut being able to out play NBA competition on a nightly basis. However, Bogut should get plenty of opportunities to play this season and if he can adjust to the athleticism and overall physical nature of the NBA game, look for Bogut to be a consistent force for the Bucks for years to come.
9) PF Fabricio Oberto - San Antonio Spurs
Who is Fabricio Oberto you ask? Oberto has been playing basketball professionally for the last 12 years yet he is only 30 years old and has a lot left in his tank. He has been an integral contributor for the Argentinian national team along with NBA star Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs and lesser-known NBA players such as Carlos Defino of the Detroit Pistons and Andres Nocioni of the Chicago Bulls. These were the core players along with Luis Scola that took home the gold in the 2004 Olympics and though Oberto will be sharing minutes with Robert Horry off the bench for the Spurs. Oberto is a savvy and efficient big man who will provide great minutes off the bench for the Spurs as they attempt to repeat as NBA Champs.
10) G Salim Stoudamire - Atlanta Hawks
Scouts shied away from him due to fears about his attitude. But his senior year, he was a model citizen who won numerous games for Arizona. On the court, there are few as passionate as him, or as talented shooting the ball. He can improve upon his play making skills and play better defense, but he can fill up it, point blank. On an Atlanta team that needs all the help it can get, look for Stoudamire to contribute right away unlike Marvin Williams who will need some time until he becomes a regular contributor.