NBA: Top 10 Rookies and Their Best and Worst Case Scenarios as Pros

This year’s draft class was less than spectacular and full of gambles.  A player could either turn out to be the next big thing, or the next bust. A player can turn out to be the next Chris Paul, or Ramon Sessions. Dirk Nowitzki, or Brian Scalabrine.

The list goes on.

So, for a fan’s sake, hope your draft pick lands in the best-case scenario and without further ado, we give you the best and worst case scenarios for the best rookies.

1. Kyrie Irving

It could be argued that Kyrie Irving doesn’t deserve this No. 1 spot. But with his leadership ability, passing skills and ability to score in various ways, he makes a compelling argument.

At the same time, he’s also the biggest gamble at the number one pick. He didn’t play very many games last season with Duke, so the scouts haven’t really seen enough. And, for all we know, he could have just had spectacular games in that time period.

Irving could either be a huge bust and a superstar depending on how he adapts to the league’s physicality and style of play.

Best Case Scenario: 

A poor man’s Chris Paul. Key words: poor man’s. If he really meets his full potential, he will be able to do everything Chris Paul does best: run a team, make his teammates better, and take over when needed. But probably not nearly to CP3’s extent.

Worst Case Scenario:

Irving’s worst case scenario is to develop into a Mario Chalmers-type player. He doesn’t take control of the team and is overwhelmed by the NBA. All he does is becomes a solid point guard at best who can hit the open three if needed.

2. Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams became a monster in the tournament last season. He had the range, the quickness to get by defenders, and the strength to finish at the rim. He also had the size to post up smaller defenders who dared to guard him. But, can that same dominance work in the NBA?

Best Case Scenario: 

This may seem like a huge stretch, but doesn’t shooting ability, ball handling skills, strength, and quickness at 6’8″ sound like someone on the Heat?

That’s right, Derrick Williams’ best case scenario is a Lebron James-type player, but clearly not as good. No other players in the league have such a wide array of skills like Williams and James do. And I think Williams’ game can possibly translate into a Lebron James-type style if all goes well.

3. Enes Kanter

International players are by far the biggest gambles for this reason: scouts simply don’t know the level of competition.

But, with every international player there seems to be one common denominator: skilled big men. Unfortunately, that can either mean Darko Milicic, or Dirk Nowitzki.

Best Case Scenario:

Enes Kanter is your prototypical skilled big man, having the ability to knock down the 15-footer if needed. For that reason, Al Horford is the perfect match. He, too, is a big man who can knock down wide-open mid-range shots, post up, block shots and rebound the ball well. Basically, everything a big man can do, but with a little extra added on.

Worst Case Scenario:

The problem with European big men, as previously mentioned, is that they can turn out to be not as “skilled” as advertised. That all they bring to the league is a mid-range jump shot with no post moves because they can’t compete with the physicality at this level. In that case, which, sadly is very probable, Kanter could become a Kurt Thomas-type, relying on his mid-range without a real post presence.

Worst Case Scenario:

Derrick Williams is what we call a “tweener.” He’s neither a small forward nor a power forward, which is a dangerous situation to be in. Worst case scenario is that he gets stuck in between the two and turns into a big man who’s a wanna-be guard. For example, Andray Blatche.

4. Tristan Thompson

No offense to Chris Grant, but Tristan Thompson is not as good as advertised.

One thing this year’s draft lacked was big men. The Cavaliers needed one thing: a big man.

What they could have done was take a big man of their choice, such as Derrick Williams or Enes Kanter. For the fourth pick, they could have picked a decent point guard in Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight.

Nevertheless, they’re stuck with Tristan Thompson: a 6″9′ power forward who posts up well. The only thing missing in his game is size.

Unfortunately, basketball at his position requires size. 

Best Case Scenario: 

At best, Tristan Thompson develops into a Paul Millsap. He’ll try to compensate for his lack of height with a jump shot. However, it’s hard to start using a jump shot after posting up over smaller defenders your whole career.

Worst Case Scenario:

The worst case scenario for Tristan Thompson is an NBA bench-warmer with very limited minutes who we never hear of again. He will fall between a post-up and a mid-range game never being able to develop into a solid NBA player.

5. Jonas Valanciunas

Yet another “skilled” European big man drafted into the league. Valanciunas is a big man with great size and a coordinated game. He can run the floor well for a center, and has a knack for rebounding, which is another trait that translates to all levels of play.

Best Case Scenario:

With his size, coordination, athleticism and mobility, he could turn up to be a Spencer Hawes, a skilled big man with all of those aspects to his game. Valanciunas will at best end up being an average, or a little above average, big man for the most part of his career.

Worst Case Scenario:

Jonas Valanciunas could at the worst become like Brian Cardinal. His rebounding prowess could take over his game, summing him up as a rebounding big man.

Like “The Custodian,” he’ll be doing the dirty work, such as setting screens, grabbing loose rebounds, and so on.

6. Jan Vesely

The Wizards struck gold in this years draft. And Vesely is a large contributor as to why. He is the most-skilled European big man of the large bunch, possessing the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket with authority; that’s pretty impressive at 6’11”.

Although he lacks a shot, he compensates with his aggressive mentality and athleticism, earning the nickname the “Dunking Ninja”.

Best Case Scenario:

Jan Vesely could potentially develop into an Andrei Kirilenko-type player. Andrei Kirilenko is a well-sized small forward who takes pride in his aggressive game. He can hit the open jump shot but isn’t too reliant on it. Jan Vesely can become a franchise player if all goes well for him.

Worse Case Scenario:

At worst, Vesely could become reliant on a jump shot and lose his aggressiveness attacking the rim when he enters the NBA, developing into a Mike Dunleavy.

7. Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo is an interesting draft pick. He’s as raw as a player gets. Unfortunately, the rawer the player gets, the bigger the gamble.

Nonetheless, he is a defensive wonder. Biyombo has the quickness and foot speed that allows him to defend inside players at ease, as well as defending the pick and roll to perfection. In addition, a 7’7″ wingspan enables him to dominate his defender with electrifying blocks to ignite the crowd.

Defensively, he’s the complete package. Offense is a whole other story for Biyombo, though. His offensive repertoire is the layup/dunk. That’s what will be his downfall, if any.

Bismack Biyombo the type of player who can just as well excel in the league as he can completely crash and never see more than five minutes a game.

Best Case Scenario:

Bismack Biyombo has the physical attributes and overall body type to be compared to Ben Wallace. Both players dominate the defensive end of the floor and are completely helpless on offense.

Worst Case Scenario:

With no polished offensive game whatsoever, there leaves a huge opportunity to be horrible in the NBA. If he can’t take advantage of his defensive prowess, Biyombo will be forced to ride the bench for the majority of his career.
8. Brandon Knight

Brandon Knight was one of the most highly-regarded high school players we’ve seen since Lebron. He seemed to have it all coming out of high school. Unfortunately, his weaknesses were shown when he reached the college level, but he has done a good job developing into a leader on the court and not just the scorer like he was in high school.

Knight is unique in that he has the ability to light up for 40 one night, then come back the next and dish out 10 assists.

He can become a dominant player when he reaches the NBA if he can find a way to gain consistency in his game.  He’ll need to become an all-around player and not simply a scoring point guard.

Best Case Scenario:

Brandon Knight’s ability to shoot the lights out draws comparisons to Jason Terry. If all turns out the right way for Knight, he can become a forceful combo guard who will be able to run the point, or take over the game just as Jason Terry does.

Worst Case Scenario:

Brandon Knight’s scorers mentality can take over his game and turn him into a shoot-first player like Lou Williams on the Sixers.
9. Kemba Walker

Personally, I have no idea why Kemba Walker didn’t get picked higher. He single-handedly led his team to a national championship after being unranked in the preseason and averaged 23.5 PPG and 4.5 APG.

Kemba Walker has a winner’s mentality, unbelievable quickness, a consistent jump shot and an all-star swagger to become a superstar and lead an NBA to playoffs and beyond. The only thing Walker lacks is size, which he compensates for with his quickness and ball-handling skills to create shots on his own and for others.

Best Case Scenario:

At his best, Kemba Walker reminds me a lot of Allen Iverson. He has the fearlessness and confidence, as well as the undeniable similarities in size and quickness. They are both highlight-reel players who know how to win.

Worst Case Scenario: 

However, Walker’s size could take over and he may not be able to dominate like he did in college. In the worst possible case, Kemba could end up being a DJ Augustin-type player: good, but not great.
10. Jimmer Fredette

Simply put, Jimmer Fredette is overrated and his game will not translate to the next level. Name one NBA coach who would let Fredette take the shots he did in college on an NBA team: none. No player in the NBA takes pull-up 30-footers off the dribble without moving the ball around.

Best Case Scenario:

At best, if everything goes well for Jimmer and he develops a catch-and-shoot game, he could develop into a JJ Redick-type player. Great in college, average in the NBA.

Worst Case Scenario:

Jimmer doesn’t find a team or coach that allows him to take the shots in college and he gets sent to the D-League because of his need to be the only shot taker on the team to dominate.

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