The rookie class for the 2014-15 NBA season was supposed to be so great. It was supposed to be one of the best classes since the 2003-04 season when LeBron, Dwyane and Carmelo came into the league.
The top two picks of this past draft are the only two players averaging double figures. Jabari Parker is out for the season with a torn ACL. He was figuring the game out and playing better before he went down.
Andrew Wiggins gets the most opportunities among rookies. He averages the most minutes and takes the most shots. He has scored at least 20 points in six of the last seven games.
This rookie class has promise but they have been hit with injuries. Julius Randle went down with a broken leg in his first game. Parker is out for the season. Aaron Gordon has been out since November, having surgery to put a screw in his left foot. Doug McDermott has not played since November either. Marcus Smart has also missed time with an injury.
These rookies are not putting up big scoring numbers like previous classes. Second round pick K.J. McDaniels is actually third in scoring among rookies at 9.1 ppg but he’s second in blocks behind his rookie teammate Nerlens Noel and he is in the top ten in steals among rookies.
The “weaker” class from last season had four players’ average double figures.
A lot of these rookies do not play major minutes even on a bad team. Not counting Parker there are nine rookies that play at least 20 minutes per game. Two of those guys average 30 minutes per game, Andrew Wiggins and Nerlens Noel. Despite playing 30 minutes Noel only gets up about eight shots per game.
In fact only Wiggins and Parker average 10 or more shots per game. Among the 10 rookies that play 20 minutes a game, only one of them plays on a playoff team. Kostas Papanikolaou of the Houston Rockets averages around 21 minutes per game. He played a lot more in the beginning of the season and has seen a decrease in minutes this past month.
The most important rookie of the bunch might be Nikola Mirotic of the Chicago Bulls. He plays around 18 minutes per game for a team that could contend for a championship. He’s the only rookie to play consistently for a playoff team. His numbers don’t look great, 8 ppg and 5 rpg. His per 36 numbers are much better, 15.6 ppg and 9.9 rpg.
He doesn’t have the numbers but he should be the front runner for rookie of the year. He plays well in the limited time that he gets. He’s the only rookie in the top 30 in minutes played to play every game and contribute to a winning team.
Andrew Wiggins will get the most consideration because he scores the most among rookies. The rookie class is not as strong as we thought it would be but Mirotic is playing really good and should be up for rookie of the year although he’s not putting up big scoring numbers.