Summer Dreaming: 2014 Rookie Of Year

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HANG TIME, Texas — Maybe it’s the heat. Or the humidity. Or those icy margaritas that have been sipped by the pool.

The beginning of August gets the mind to wandering in all sorts of different directions. Sure, it’s tempting to start thinking about the season openers that are barely three months away. But why stop there? Let’s wander all the way out to next spring when the 2013-14 season is over and get a head start on candidates for all the awards.

Today we’ll look at my hot fun in the summertime top five picks for Rookie of the Year. Send me yours.

Victor Oladipo, Magic The No. 2 pick in the Draft showed in the Summer League that he has a long way to go to run an offense as a point guard. But that doesn’t mean Oladipo won’t get plenty of chances to shine as the young Magic just turn him loose. Arron Afflalo will have to move on in order to let Oladipo fully blossom. However, the nonstop, high-energy guy with the first-class defensive chops will thrive in the transition and find plenty of opportunities to get to the basket with the floor spacing in the NBA. In a Draft that seemed to jump the rails right from the first pick, Oladipo was the player the Magic targeted to be a star for the future. There’s no reason to think that he won’t get off to a fast start on a young team that craves a leader.

Ben McLemore, Kings He came out firing unconscionably and mostly missing in his first two Las Vegas Summer League games, but give him credit for not reacting by crawling into a hole and becoming shy. By the end of the his desert run, McLemore was as hot and flashy as anything on the Vegas strip. The long-suffering franchise wants him to run the floor, use his athleticism and fill up the basket. He’s got a sweet stroke, plenty of range and now that Tyreke Evans is gone to New Orleans, he should have plenty opportunity. The lesson learned from Vegas is not to paint himself strictly as a long bomber and work to improve the other areas of his game. It’s also about his attitude. There is a reason that some folks had him tabbed as the No. 1 pick and could be part of the road back for a Kings franchise that will celebrate staying in Sacramento.

Cody Zeller, Bobcats Zeller was a standout in Las Vegas, showing all the hustle, smarts and athleticism that made him a star at Indiana. Never mind that his arms are short and some think he’ll have trouble on the inside at the NBA level. Playing for the hapless Bobcats, Zeller is going to get all the time he needs to figure things out and find a way to get off his shot. This is the umpteenth time that Michael Jordan’s Bobcats are starting over and rookie coach Steve Clifford will be happy to plug the Zeller’s intelligence and skills into the lineup and let him complement free-agent signee Al Jefferson.

Anthony Bennett, Cavaliers There’s a chance the Cavs will bring the No. 1 pick in the Draft along slowly. That’s especially likely since he is a frontline tweener (6-foot-7) who will have to learn to maneuver around the bigger bodies in the NBA and learn how to get off his shot inside (since he’s not especially mobile). He’s 3-point range and while he may struggle to find his place in the offense, Bennett has a nose for rebounding and could make his presence felt by going to the glass. That’s a good way to make an impact, put up numbers, get attention and maybe even work his way off the bench by the second half of the season.

C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers Can the Blazers go back-to-back on Rookie of the Year winners? After Damian Lillard practically went wire-to-wire to claim the award last season, Portland went out and almost drafted a clone. The conventional thinking is that McCollum will get stuck on the bench playing second fiddle to Lillard and that will limit his production. But there is really no reason to think the Blazers were drafting a sub at No. 10. They’re gonna find a way to get their pair of ball-handling scorers on the floor together as much as possible. There are plenty nuances of the game McCollum has to learn, but he’s got the swagger to take on anything thrown at him and find a way to shine.

Rudy Gobert, Jazz OK, he’s No. 6 and is a longer shot than a mule winning the Kentucky Derby. But give me a personal indulgence after watching the 7-foot-2 Frenchman with the 7-foot-9 wingspan and 9-foot-7 reach — that’s five inches below the rim — swat down everything that came into his airspace in the Orlando Summer League. He’s raw and must bulk up to eventually thrive in the NBA. But he’s only 21 and defensively has a nose for the ball that says he’s going after every shot. Of course, the shot-blocking Gobert will get time sparingly this season, but I’m telling you he’ll be fun to watch whenever he’s on the floor. Besides, you’ve got to love a guy who’s already picked up a classic nickname — the Stifle Tower.

PREVIOUSLY: Sixth Man of Year | Defensive Player of Year | Most Improved Player

35 Comments

  1. Vlad says:

    Ben McLemore is going to win it like Damian Lillard did!!!
    Nobody is going to come close to him!! Nobody will catch up to him because when he is settled in scoring 18-27 points per game and is a All-Star his first year, that’s an obviously choice for Rookie of the Year!!!
    And I guarantee the Sacramento Kings will make the Playoffs next season of one more draft pick!!

    • Vlad says:

      And I guarantee the Sacramento Kings will make the Playoffs next season AFTER one more draft pick!!!!!!!!

  2. hammer says:

    wat about kelly olynyk of the bost celtics

  3. John Williams says:

    I think Victor Oladpio will Rookie Of Year his game is almost identical to Dwayne Wade

  4. Brandon says:

    K o (Celtics)

  5. σιμοσαυρος says:

    mclemore is going to win it.. he has the best skill-set..

  6. Timbo says:

    Gobert is Hasheem Thabeet waiting to happen. Luckily the Jazz didn’t take him top ten though

  7. SWHTOWN18 says:

    After Watching Both Leagues In Orlando & Vegas Michael Carter-Williams From The 76ers Will Win Rookie Of The Year 2013-2014..Remember Guys They Are Rookies & Are Playing Against Not Real NBA Men Just D League Talent..Rockets took All Their Talent Out For the Final Game of Orlando Finals..

  8. J says:

    loved the article!

  9. wendell lafner says:

    Any list w/o K O is not a list but rather is Butt wipe

  10. Dantoy says:

    LOL Fran BLINDBERRY obviously Kelly Olynyk should be in the list heck his the best rookie in the summer league even in the rookie ladder cant believe that you missed him..

  11. ryan says:

    I don’t like Bennett. He reminds me of the Marcus Fizer hype. Same body, same skills coming out of college. 8 points 6 rebounds over his career

  12. masabacha says:

    What a joke! No Olynyk? He’s the Klynyc! and a top 3

  13. hdsnake867 says:

    Are you on the pipe? Did you even watch summer league? Olynyk was clearly the BEST player on the floor at al times. KO for ROY. In fact, he was the steal of the draft.

  14. Johnny says:

    No mention of Kelly Olynyk ???? why

  15. natan says:

    he was ok

  16. krauser says:

    I’m really surprised Kelly Olynyk has not been mentioned here. He may not be the most athletic or fastest rookie but he sure knows how to play ball. Look at the footwork my friends! This guy’s going to be a star if he’s healthy.

  17. J says:

    oladipo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Michi says:

    Why would have Arron Afflalo to move if he plays SG and Oladipo PG ? State smthg in one sentence and object to what you said yourself in the next sentence … thorough journalism…

    • ken says:

      They have a good point guard in nelson n victor really play the 2 guard but the magic wants him to play the point

  19. bdbtat8745 says:

    maybe olynyk is too white, or with too much hair, because he is clearly better than some guys in that list.
    explain me why you put gobert and not him ? that’s a bad joke.

  20. qq says:

    Olynyk was the best summer league player, I also liked zeller, think he played very well but he wont win rookie of the year, im gonna go with olynyk or oladipa since they both will play alot and did very well at the summer league.

  21. Celticfan says:

    ROY would be a close one between Oladipo and Olynyk.

  22. Maori Nash says:

    It’s sad how the Suns get no love. They won every game besides the final, and Archie Goodwin who was a late 1st round pick delivered some big time plays. His numbers would have been much better if he got more minutes. He was very efficient on a WINNING TEAM. McLemore was inefficient on a losing team.

  23. spacejamghxst says:

    Shane Larkin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. zz says:

    burke is huge bust he won’t be a top 50 rookie lol hahah

  25. HP says:

    I think victor will be rookie of the year. Ben needs to learn how to take care of his body and what foods to eat. He goes of raw talent and athleticism. Then he will be consistent. What about Kelly Olynyk?? He has the most skill and IQ of the bunch. He needs to get in the gym and work on his leg strength, quickness and explosiveness. He has all the tools. Haven’t seen Gobart yet.

  26. angel says:

    You mention Gobert and no one word about Kelly Olynyk? I can’t believe it!

  27. Pine says:

    Sup dudes

  28. steppx says:

    Gobert is a semi bust waiting to not happen. He may develop a marginal game as a shot blocker…but he lacks strength and is way too easily pushed out of the paint. Steven Adams wont be ROY but i bet he makes a surprisngly big contribution. What about kelly olynyk? thats my guess……….or dennis schroder. If schroder gets minutes, he might really blow up. Also think Olldipo has a shot…..

  29. Dcon says:

    Gobart is amazing! Cannot wait to see him play against tougher competition! Though you guys picked the wrong jazz rookie for ROY candidate…Burke will win it hands down. He was atrocious in summer league yes, but it was a good wake up call for him. He’s hungry and he’ll work harder in the off-season to get himself ready.

  30. Liz Citrino says:

    No love for Kelly Olynyk??