This year, the NBA All-Rookie First Team consists of the following players: Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, Dion Waiters of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, and Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors. Here is a look at what each rook provided during the course of this season.
Damian Lillard: The rookie out of Weber State was exceptional this year as he proved himself to be a top 10 point guard in this league. He was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year and the only rook to be unanimously voted onto this team. Of course, there is absolutely no question he was the best rookie this season, so this news comes as no surprise. Lillard's averages of 19.0 points per game and 6.1 assists per game were top among first-year players, and his ability to shoot from beyond the arc allowed him to beat the rookie record for most three's in a single season with 185 3-point field goals. The 22-year-old also became just the third rook to score at least 1,500 points and dish out at least 500 assists, joining the company of Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson. Overall, the guard put forth an extraordinary season, and there is no doubt in my mind he will be a top 5 point guard in the next 3-4 years.
Anthony Davis: Davis, who was selected first overall this past draft by New Orleans, was solid and brought consistency every night he stepped onto the court. The 6'10 power forward led all rookies in rebounds (8.2) and blocks (1.8), proving he is capable of battling inside and anchoring the paint defensively in this league. He also averaged 13.5 points and showed he can improve his offensive game, expanding his range as the season progressed and developing a nice mid-range jump shot. New Orleans made the right move with their number 1 overall selection, as Davis put forth a productive season and proved he has the talent to become a top 10 power forward in the association.
Dion Waiters: Formerly a sixth man for Syracuse, the third overall pick ended up starting 48 games for Cleveland this year, proving throughout the season he has a lot of talent as well as a lot of room to develop. Waiters ended up finishing second among rookies in scoring with 14.7 points per game. However, he did this on 41% shooting from the field and 31% shooting from behind the three point line. The shooting guard showed he has the potential to become a solid 18+ points per game producer in the NBA, but he also revealed he needs to work on his efficiency. Cleveland has a great group of young up-and-coming athletes, and I see Dion Waiters playing a huge role in the future for this rising Cavaliers squad. As long as he improves his overall in-game efficiency, he will become a solid two guard in the association.
Bradley Beal: This season turned out to be a rough one for the University of Florida product, as he missed 26 games due to injury. However, when Beal did step out on the floor for the Wizards, he provided instant offense and proved himself to be a capable scorer in this league. The shooting guard finished the year third among rookies in scoring, averaging 13.9 points per game. While his overall shooting percentage was not necessarily fantastic (41%), he did put his long range game on display, shooting 38% from beyond the arc. Washington picked up their shooting guard of the future in Beal, and as long as he can maintain his health, he will become a quality shooter alongside John Wall.
Harrison Barnes: Barnes played a huge role in the success of Golden State during the course of the regular season, and he continues to do so as they make their run in the playoffs. The seventh overall pick out of UNC averaged 9.2 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game during the regular season as a starting small forward this year. While these numbers are solid, his performance in the playoffs has been exceptional, as he is averaging 15.9 points and 6.6 boards through his first 10 postseason games. Offensively, Barnes has proven he can attack the rim and shoot the three-ball when necessary. Defensively, his athleticism allows him to contain a variety of different players. Overall, the small forward has put together a quality rookie year, and with the superb athleticism he possesses, his future in the NBA is very bright.
In my opinion, every single rookie on the All-Rookie First Team deserves their spot, as each one proved themselves capable of thriving in this league. This season's rookie class was phenomenal to witness, and it is likely these players will experience much success for years to come.