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The Prospect Post: The All-Rookie Team

Fred Katz

Fred Katz

Fred Katz averaged almost one point per game in 5th grade, but he maintains that his per 36 minutes numbers were astonishing. Find more of his work at ProBasketballDraft.com or on ESPN's TrueHoop Network. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.

We still have a few days left of the regular season, but who cares? What we know about the 2012-13 rookie crop now is what we'll know by the end of the week, that it was a relatively uninspired class for this year that probably had more prospects than immediate impact players. Damian Lillard might be the one exception. He was able to come in and immediately make the Blazers better. Anthony Davis was great in his own ways, but missed time with injuries throughout the season and is still developing both an offensive skill set and an NBA big man's body.

As for the rest of the rookies, there were some quality players that didn't make this group. Orlando Johnson, Brian Roberts, Chris Copeland, Jae Crowder, Evan Fournier, Festus Ezeli, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller all showed that they are worthy NBA players. But here are the top guys, the ones who should make up this year's All-Rookie Teams:

First Team

Damian Lillard, G, Portland

Lillard essentially locked up the Rookie of the Year Award a week into the season. After pairing a hot start with Anthony Davis' injured beginning to his NBA career, the Blazer point guard took off. He has already broken Steph Curry's record for most three-pointers made by a rookie. He's scoring in a multitude of ways and facilitating for his teammates. It seems like a while ago, but there was actually a time around the All-Star Break when Lillard actually had his team contending for the final playoff spot in the West. There's something to be said for running your team's offense in your first year in the league - and Lillard has done just that at a very high level.

Bradley Beal, G, Washington

Before Beal's season-ending injury on April 2, he was on an absolute tear. I guess 2012 just wasn't really his year, because as soon as the calendar hit Jan. 1, he transformed into a different player. In his 30 games played after the New Year, Beal averaged 15.5 points per game in 32.2 minutes a night. That's fine, but how about these numbers? 45.8 percent from the field and 48.4 percent from three on 4.3 attempts per game. 48.4 percent! Beal had the Ray Allen and Eric Gordon comparisons coming out of Florida and in the second half of the season, he showed why. He looks like he's going to be a game-changing shooter for a long time in this league.

Harrison Barnes, F, Golden State

At the end of his first NBA season, Barnes is, in a way, the exact same player that he was in college: dependable, yet somewhat frustrating. He's smart, athletic, and is a capable shooter, but everyone once in a while, he'll unleash a ridiculous dunk that leaves you saying, "Why doesn't he just do that all the time?!" It's the same problem Barnes had in college: He's remarkably athletic, but rarely uses his full athleticism on the court. If he ever gets to the level in which he's consistently using his physical skills to his advantage, he could turn into something special, but for now, he's just a good rookie and a nice player.

Anthony Davis, F, New Orleans

Davis kind of gets forgotten about since he got hurt early, but in reality, he shouldn't be that far behind Damian Lillard in the Rookie of the Year race. His per 36 numbers of 16.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 1.5 steals are excellent. He's shown skill with the ball at times to match his elite athleticism. And meanwhile, he's only gotten better as the year has gone on. He still struggles with his shot, but his jumper and handle both look good. Once he improves upon those and starts getting more minutes, he could turn into a dominant player.

Andre Drummond, C, Detroit

Drummond was a monster as a rookie, who Lawrence Frank deprived us of. He's a powerful dunker (14 points per 36), a dominant rebounder (13.6 points per 36) and a ferocious shot blocker (2.8 points per 36). He still has no offensive game aside from dunking and boy, those free throws are undoubtedly ugly, but a 19-year-old physical specimen who can play defense and run the floor is a pretty good long-term investment.


Second Team

Dion Waiters, G, Cleveland

Waiters had his ups and downs as a rookie but he ultimately looks like he could be a decent scorer at the NBA level. His perimeter shot isn't all the way there (31.1 percent from three), but he shot well from midrange this year (41.5 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line). Right now, he's mainly an isolation player that likes to create off the dribble, but if he could become a better catch-and-shoot perimeter player, all of a sudden he meshes much better with Kyrie Irving.

Maurice Harkless, G/F, Orlando

Harkless still has a lot to improve upon, namely his perimeter and free throw shooting, but in some ways, he's already a veteran. He's becoming one of the best off-ball cutters in the league and already moves without the ball extraordinarily well. On the defense end, he's long, rangy, and athletic and seems to give players trouble, especially when he guards smaller perimeter wings. Remember that Harkless is one of the youngest players in the NBA (he's still only 19). That shot can absolutely improve. Once it does, we could see him turn into a consistently good player.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Charlotte

The knock on Kidd-Gilchrist isn't a surprise. For now, the youngest player in the NBA can't shoot - and he's not close to there yet. It's not just MKG's jumper that's missing the touch. It's basically his entire game away from the rim. Kidd-Gilchrist barely took any threes this year, shooting 2-for-9 on the season. From 16 feet out to the three-point line, he was well below average (exactly 30.0 percent). Move in a few feet and he's even worse, shooting 14.3 percent from 10 to 16 feet. The rookie even shot only 27.6 percent from 3 to 10 feet. His entire game resides in transition and at the rim right now. Even if he could even develop into a mediocre shooter, that would change his game immensely.

Andrew Nicholson, F, Orlando

Nicholson is one of those players you wish saw the floor more, because when he did get heavy enough minutes this year, he put up particularly strong numbers. He is averaging 16.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per 36 minutes on 52.4 percent shooting, but averaged only 16.8 minutes per game throughout the year. We saw bursts of Jacque Vaughn trusting him throughout the year, like when Nicholson averaged 12.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in 28.9 minutes a night over an eight-game stretch from Feb. 4 to Feb. 22, but ultimately Nicholson's rookie year resided mostly on the bench.

Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto

Valanciunas is already a threat on the defensive end as a shot blocker (1.8 blocks per 36 minutes). On the offensive side, his game is still unrefined, but he got away with using his elite athleticism this year. He runs the floor well and is quite comfortable when the Raptors get out on fast breaks. He's still raw and definitely fouls too much (we saw that in the Olympics over the summer, as well), but his future looks bright for now.

Fred Katz averaged almost one point per game in 5th grade, but he maintains that his per 36 minutes numbers were astonishing. Find more of his work at ProBasketballDraft.com or on ESPN's TrueHoop Network at ClipperBlog.com and KnickerBlogger.net. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.