The 2016-2017 NBA season is almost upon us which means a new class of rookies are set to begin their journeys in the professional ranks. Here we will be taking a look at the top 5 rookies who are expected to make an impact with their teams in their very first year playing in the NBA.
- Brandon Ingram
Selected 2nd overall by the Los Angeles Lakers
Brandon Ingram became a star at Duke during his lone season there and immediately drew some comparisons to Kevin Durant. Like Durant, Ingram stands at 6’10” and has a 190-pound frame that is almost similar to the player referred to as the “Slim Reaper.” His physical attributes are not the only reason why he has been compared to the NBA superstar. During his lone season with the Blue Devils, Ingram showed that he was a force to be reckoned with on the offensive end as he could score from just about any spot on the floor.
Thanks to the recent addition of veteran forward Luol Deng on the roster, there is good reason to believe that Ingram won’t be in the Lakers’ starting lineup on opening night, but we can expect him to make a huge impact on both ends of the floor once his number gets called. The Lakers are currently looking to rebuild with a much younger squad now that the legendary Kobe Bryant has retired, and Ingram could very well be the future of the Lake Show.
2. Kris Dunn
Selected 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves
Kris Dunn is the latest addition to a team that has the winners of the past two Rookie of the Year Awards in Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns. He is expected to begin the year playing backup to starting point guard Ricky Rubio, but this doesn’t mean he is going to be deprived of some much needed playing time. Standing at 6’4″ and weighing in at 220 pounds, Dunn can use his size, quickness, explosive athleticism and versatility to play and defend against both guard positions. The 22-year old Providence product already has the potential to become a huge star in this league. Even his fellow rookies believe he will walk away with the Rookie of the Year award as he was given 29 percent of their votes during the league’s annual rookie survey.
3. Buddy Hield
Selected 6th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans
Hield is the 2016 consensus national player of the year and is already considered by many to be this draft class’ best shooter, and he is now headed to The Big Easy where he will be expected to provide an outside presence for a team that has just lost its two of its best perimeter threats in Ryan Anderson (36.6 percent from three) and Eric Gordon (38.4 percent from three) over the summer. With the injury-plagued Tyreke Evans expected to be out at least until December, be on the lookout for Hield to start impressing with some long bombs in the beginning.
4. Ben Simmons
Selected 1st overall by the Philadelphia 76ers
Simmons would have been much higher on this list if it weren’t the foot injury that he suffered before the beginning of the preseason. However, we can still expect Simmons to be the main star of a Sixers franchise that has been a perennial doormat for the past three seasons once he makes his eventual pro debut. He is a freak of a specimen who has the size of a power forward, the passing skills of a top quality point guard and the athletic ability of an elite swingman. His game has already been compared to that of Lebron James’, so we can only hope that Simmons has a relatively injury-free career so he can reach his true potential.
5. Joel Embiid
Selected 3rd overall (2014) by the Philadelphia 76ers
It has been two years since Embiid had his name called on draft night, but he has yet to make his NBA debut because of injuries. That will all change this season as the youngster will now have the chance to show the world why he was one of the top collegiate prospects after completing his freshman year at Kansas. Expect the Sixers to go easy on his minutes and be more cautious with him for the sake of his long-term development. The 7-foot Embiid was a beast on offense during his days in Kansas, and he also showed that has what it takes to be a capable defender as well. If he can stay healthy, then there is a good chance that he could be walking away with the Rookie of the Year award.
[Featured Image by Reed Saxon/AP Images]