For the past two years, anticipation has risen around an elite class of basketball players scheduled to make their respective NBA debuts this fall. From Jabari Parker, who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in December of 2012, to first overall pick Andrew Wiggins, it's clear that the Association has their "next wave" of superstars littered throughout the 2014 NBA rookie class. While it's these players' futures that we fans are most looking forward to witnessing, here's a look at how the top stars of tomorrow will fare next season from a statistical basis.
Andrew Wiggins, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers (at least for now):
Instead of the hype, glamour, and prestige that usually comes with being the number one overall pick in an NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins has become the victim of tireless trade rumours since LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland. In fact, as you probably know, just yesterday reports came out that a “verbal commitment” has been made between the Cavs and Timberwolves concerning a deal that would send the Kansas product to Minnesota in exchange for all-star PF Kevin Love. If this agreement comes to fruition, Wiggins would have great opportunity to grow and mature as a basketball player with a pass-first point guard in Ricky Rubio and limited competition for minutes from other teammates. While Minnesota is obviously a less desirable team to play for than a star-studded Cavaliers team, this trade will likely pay tremendous dividends for Andrew Wiggins' future development.
Stat Predictions: 16.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, All-Rookie First Team.
Jabari Parker, SF, Milwaukee Bucks:
As arguably the most offensively talented player coming into this year’s draft, Parker will have a similar opportunity as Andrew Wiggins in the sense that both players will be given optimal opportunities to play on low-expectation, rebuilding teams. The one thing that I’m concerned about with the former Blue Devil is his commitment on the defensive end of the basketball court. In college, it seemed as if Parker was caught standing around and in a poor position defensively too often, giving opponents great chances at the basket. At the NBA level, Jabari has to be more cautious of his defensive effort. But regardless of what struggles Parker might have in that area next season, the now Buck is a tremendous scorer and should be a consistent offensive threat throughout his rookie season.
Stat Predictions: 17.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, All-Rookie First Team, Rookie of The Year.
Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers:
Contrary to other players in this highly touted 2014 class, Joel Embiid’s rookie season is entirely contingent on his health. If the seven-footer recovers from foot surgery in the projected four to six months that doctors gave him at the time of his injury, Embiid should make his debut for the 76ers sometime next December or January. While there will be some obvious growing pains when the Kansas product first starts to play, expect the big man to perform well down the stretch of next season and turn in a short yet solid rookie campaign.
Stat Predictions: 10.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.7 BLK, All-Rookie Second Team.
Noah Vonleh, PF, Charlotte Hornets:
Even though Noah Vonleh is by no means as talented or highly regarded as some of the players I've previewed above, as a Charlotte native and avid Hornets fan, I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a stab at some of Vonleh’s rookie numbers. Unlike nearly all of the lottery picks in this year’s draft, the Indiana Hoosier is headed for team with high winning expectations for the 2014-15 season. As a rookie, Vonleh won’t likely see the starting lineup next season and a ton of minutes coming off of the bench. However, if all goes according to plan for the Hornets, Vonleh should be a pivotal part of Charlotte's team a few years down the road and possibly one of the NBA's best big men in the prime of his playing days.
Stat Predictions: 6.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.1 BLK.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe