Blogtable: Rookie on the rise

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: The price of Love | New most intriguing team | Sleeper rookie

VIDEO: All-Access at Summer League with Zach LaVine

> And, now that Summer League has finished, do you have a new favorite rookie you expect to be a sleeper this season?

Steve Aschburner, Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel doesn’t count, right? He’ll be sneaking up on no one after his redshirt season. Phoenix’s T.J. Warren is no sleeper either, in my opinion, after all the buzz he generated this month. So I’ll keep an eye on Minnesota’s Zach LaVine, partly based on the versatility he demonstrated in Las Vegas and even more so on the opportunities he’ll get to shine as coach Flip Saunders proves how astutely POBO Flip Saunders drafted.

Jeff Caplan, I came away really impressed with Doug McDermott, but I’m going with a guy I wrote about Tuesday, Minnesota’s brash, super-confident combo guard Zach LaVine out of UCLA. He’s 19 and has a chip on his shoulder the size of Bill Walton. He quickly gained attention in Vegas for an array of acrobatic dunks, by he left Vegas revealing a high IQ, promising point guard skills and a fierce competitiveness.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comZach LaVine. Maybe it has something to do with seeing LaVine’s final game in Las Vegas from courtside, where all of his athleticism and raw skill was on display. I talked to several NBA decision-makers who are worried that LaVine is all hype and just a superior physical marvel and not polished enough to be an impact player. I disagree. I think he’ll shock some people with his versatility and readiness to step in and play quality minutes for the Timberwolves, who’ll need someone and something to get excited about if Kevin Love ends up leaving town before the trade deadline. LaVine struck me as much more than just a highlight waiting to happen on a fast break. There’s much more meat to his game than I realized. He’s not only my pick as a potential sleeper in this rookie class, he could wind up being the steal of this Draft.

John Schuhmann, There aren’t too many guys who were picked outside of the top 11 and will have a clear opportunity to play regular rotation minutes as rookies (well, except the Sixers’ second rounders, because the Sixers have only a few real players on their roster). Noah Vonleh could be a really good fit in Charlotte, sharing the power forward position with Marvin Williams on a playoff team. He shot just 28 percent in Summer League, but did so in Al Jefferson‘s role (posting up as the focal point of their offense). He’ll have an easier time playing off Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Lance Stephenson.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blogThe best rookie I saw in person at Summer League was Minnesota’s Zach LaVine. His skills as a decision-maker weren’t anything special, but they won’t have to be if he’s playing alongside Ricky Rubio. His athleticism, however, was phenomenal, and I’d expect that to quickly set him apart from other players on the floor and give him an early advantage. If Love stays for a few months, perhaps LaVine will give the T-Wolves the jolt of energy/excitement they need to convince Love that they’re headed in the right direction and get him to opt-in for the long haul.


  1. Karlo Garcia says:

    PJ Hairston from Charlotte Hornets.

  2. Joobie says:

    Shabazz Napier

  3. harrythehawk says:

    He’s not a.rookie but I was impressed with Marshon Brooks. Hire that man Sacramento!

  4. samdonjennings says:

    Is he still a sleeper pick if everyone picks him?

  5. zah says:

    Can’t believe no one talking about Jordan Clarkson.

    This second rounder is a beast.

  6. European says:

    Nikola Mirotic. Enough said.

  7. BILLY BOB says:

    Cameron Bairstow was an amazing player for the bulls. He’s a hard worker and did a great effort on the intimidation end.

  8. Jj says:

    What 2nd round pick impressed most? Some have been given contracts as of late, guaranteed years too.. That’s a better topic.. It what second year players impressed.. Get a starting five..

  9. NDil says:

    I am interested in a couple of second rounders who could sneak up including KJ McDaniels, Cleanthony Early, and James Ennis who will get his first look at real nba play this year and who showcased a greatly improved game from last year

  10. Aislan says:

    I love TJ Warren’s game… Do you guys think he can be a starter in Phoenix at the PF?? I like Hairston, too… I think he is a great scorer, but I don’t know if he’ll have big minutes in Charlotte

  11. DWalk says:

    Rodney Hood could be a sleeper. Everyone in Utah is talking about Exum but Hood played a lot better and is a more immediate threat than Exum.