There are no superstar rookies in the 2014-2015 NBA Season, but quite a few guys who can become All-Stars in a few years. Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins will battle each other for rookie of the year, but the surprising Bojan Bogdanovic from the Brooklyn Nets is also worth following.
Playing for a terrible team, both Nerlens Noel and K.J. McDaniels are getting plenty of time to hone their craft. Elfrid Payton has some moments of wizadry for the Orlando Magic, but the most surprising of all might be Nikola Mirotic of the Chicago Bulls, doing most with less and becoming one of his team’s most efficient players.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
Many expected Parker to be the leading rookie in 2014-2015, considered as the most NBA ready players of the class. He’s not just playing well, although without doing anything too astounding: He’s actually helping the Bucks win, with a positive 10-9 record so far. Parker is playing 30.1 minutes and averaging 12.4 points per game to go with 6.2 rebounds while shooting 47.3% from the field. He obviously suffers from inconsistency, but he’s never too bad and has scored a total of 41 points over the last two games, his highest two-game total of the season.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
It comes down to Wiggins or Parker to win rookie of the year. Right now Wiggins is trailing, but not by much. He’s averaging 11.8 points with 3.6 rebounds. His shooting, as expected, is a problem, hitting only 39.9% of his shots, but he’s doing well in his 3-pointer shot selection, hitting 44% of them. He’s very good on the defensive side and part of a very fun to watch crew in Minnesota, but he needs a lot more polishing. With 28.6 minutes a night and one game of scoring 29 points, Wiggins is getting the right kind of experience in Minnesota.
Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
Mirotic isn’t going to win rookie of the year because unlike the rest of the guys on this list, he doesn’t play enough, averaging 17.5 minutes a night. But he leads all rookies in PER (16.54), averaging 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. It was a rough start for the first three weeks, but since November 17 he has scored in double figures in six of his eight games, and is learning at an extremely fast rate on how to become a useful stretch four coming off the bench.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
The 25-year old is probably getting more time than anyone expected, playing 31.1 minutes a night, averaging 9.9 points per game. While he’s trailing the top two draft picks, Bogdanovic has a good shot of establishing himself as a contender for the ROY award, already having three games of 19 points or more. His 3-point shooting, which he’s hitting at a 32.3% ratio, will determine how useful and impressive he really is.
Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
The tall point guard out of Louisiana needs to work on his shooting, which is his Achilles heel, but he’s helping out on a Magic team that’s doing better than last season, getting the right kind of young talent in. He’s averaging six points and five assists per game, and has already had quite a few games with at least five rebounds and five assists. A little bit more work on his shot selection and we’ll have us another point guard who is a constant triple double threat.
K.J. McDaniels, Philadelphia 76ers
Meanwhile, McDaniels is playing for a true and proven tanker. He’s coming off the bench for the 0-17 Sixers, one of the few good things about this truly abysmal season for them. He’s averaging 10.2 points per game while shooting 38.5% from beyond the arc, doing an excellent job for a second round pick. He has scored in double figures over the last three games, playing at least 30 minutes in each of them.
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
It’s rough developing on the worst team in the league. Check that, the Sixers are on pace to having the worst season of all-time. Noel, starting his rookie season a year late, isn’t doing all that badly. He’s averaging 7.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, blocking 1.3 shots per game. Is he a one man wrecking crew in the paint? No, but it took Anthony Davis some time before becoming what he is now. Noel isn’t Davis, but there’s plenty of potential there, coming out from time to time, like his 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks game against the Portland Trail Blazers.