A Rookie Review

The 2015 NBA draft has the potential to be the best since the infamous 1996 NBA draft class.

The 1996 draft included the likes of Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. The latter two Laker legends being picked as low as 15 and 13, respectively.

However, many players in this year’s class have the potential to reach the level of these superstars.

The first overall pick was heavily debated prior to the annual event with Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor looking the most likely to be picked first.

Towns was selected first and its fair to say that he has made the transition from college basketball to the NBA faster than expected. The Kentucky centre has been playing like a multi year veteran in the league after he averaged a double-double in his rookie season: over 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.

The versatile youngster has the ability to drop back and knock down threes and the power, strength and height to act as a dominate force around the basket on both defence and offence.

After a two horse race for the first pick, fans were shocked to hear that the LA Lakers – whom Okafor fitted in with their needs -had selected, then 19 year old, Point Guard D’Angelo Russell. Towards the end of the regular season his young age showed after he recorded Nick Young declaring that he cheated on pop-star Iggy Azalea and published it on social-media. His on-court performance was only marginally better than his off-court behaviour.

Jahlil Okafor was selected third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and off-court problems have plagued his rookie season. The ex-Duke centre was involved in multiple fights outside nightclubs and it was widely reported that he had a gun held to his head after attacking a heckler. Okafor has had a season to forget with the 76ers after they won just 10 games all season.

Later lottery picks have also impressed pundits this year. The Detroit Piston’s Stanley Johnson has averaged solid numbers and impressed in his first post season even with a match up against LeBron James. His fighting spirit is obvious and he has the ability to score from anywhere in the offensive half.

The last pick of the lottery (14th) was Cameron Payne and the Point Guard has settled in well along side All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. He has not set the league on fire like Towns but his dancing has been enough for him to settle into the league with a star studded Oklahoma City Thunder side who face the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the Playoffs.

Picks of the Non-Lottery picks:

Bobby Portis – Chicago Bulls – 22th Pick.
It took the Power Forward a while to get some playing time under the Bull’s new head coach but when his role was found he hit the ground running with some impressive stats with seven points and five rebounds.

Tyus Jones – Minnesota Timberwolves – 24th Pick.
After being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers Jones was traded to the Timberwolves and had a spell in the NBA D-League before coming back and posting some decent games and averaged four points and just under three assists in 15 minutes of game time.

Larry Nance JR – LA Lakers – 27th Pick.
Nance’s rookie season was one of the only positive points for the Lakers, who endured their worst season since 1957-58. At the mature age of 23, for a rookie, the Forward out of the University of Wyoming averaged over five points and five rebounds with one steal.

 

With quality all the way through to the second round the 2016 draft class will have a big job on their hands to match this years. Whether the 2015 draft class will be able to reach the standards of the 1996 draft will be interesting to see, but the potential is definitely there.

 

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