2014 NBA Rookie Reboot

With all the talk about Kristaps Porzingas and D’Angelo Russell these days, viagra it seems like a distant memory when you think about the hype that surrounded the 2014 NBA Draft class.   Before last season, treatment the 2014 rookies were heralded as the best class since Lebron – Melo – D-Wade in 2003.  Words like “historic,” “loaded,” and “franchise” were being throw around during the build up to the June 2014 draft with teams constantly weighing the pros and cons of Jabari Parker, Joel Embid and Andrew Wiggins.  But as you might remember, by February 2015, only one of those names was at all relevant with older rookies Nikola Mirotic and Nerlens Noel dominating the Rookie of the Year race.  While injuries ravaged the 2014 class, and Andrew Wiggins did end up winning Rookie of the Year, last year’s rookie class proved to be objectively way over-hyped.   It’s hard to believe that Adam Silver’s first Draft as commissioner, which featured not one, not two, but three Canadians in the first 20 picks (shout out Wikipedia) could be a total flop 6 months later.  Blame Canada.

But as sophomores, the 2014 draft class shows a lot of promise.  There’s no sophomore of the year race, but broken tibias do heal, and some of these players who teams hoarded their picks to get, may live up to some of the hype a year later.

Who to Watch:

Julius Randle – Some believe that Julius Randle is the key to the Lakers season.  With a young back court, and known commodities in Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert, Julius Randle is the X factor.  Randle is an explosive rebounder and a versatile defender.  His shooting range will need to improve, but he could be a double-double player in LA in his sophomore season, even if his rookie season only lasted 14 minutes.

Jabari Parker – FROM CHICAGO Jabari Parker is on the comeback trail from a left ACL tear in December.  13 months removed from being forced to wear a cheesehead, and 10 months removed from ACL surgery (equally as painful – probably), Parker sounded a lot like fellow Simeon grad Derrick Rose, but without the backlash, saying “I just take it by day. I’ll just play by ear. I have nothing but time to get ready.”  However, the preseason rhetoric makes it sound like Parker will join the Bucks on the court sooner rather than later and when he does, he’ll join their young core which remains intact after taking the Bulls to six games in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.  With the addition of Greg Monroe, the Bucks will have two players who can play in the post, making them, and Parker, dangerous in the East.

Doug McDermott – The 2014 consensus National College Player of the Year, “Dougie McBuckets” was drafted #11 by the Bulls by way of the Denver Nuggets.  A knee injury and being generally ignored by Tom Thibodeau plagued his rookie season where he appeared ineffective, in only 36 games.  With a new offensive minded coach and an injury to forward Mike Dunleavy, McDermott is poised to lose the Thibs rookie red shirt and start in place of Dunleavy, or provide value off the bench with his shooting.  He has a long way to go to be a serviceable NBA defender and stay out of foul trouble, but his swagger appears at an all time NBA career high, and he should have an opportunity to prove himself beginning on opening night.

Others from the 2014 Draft Class to keep an eye on are Marcus Smart and whether his offense can catch up to his defensive abilities, as well as the Timberwolves trio of Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine and Adreian Payne as they get more comfortable in their roles, and join 2015 #1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns in making up a young core with a bright future.

No matter what happens, we’re 1 week away from NBA action.  ONE WEEK PEOPLE.

7 days until NBA season….

About the author: Jamie Litoff. NBA Correspondent. Jamie is an Evanston native and devoted Bulls, Bears, Cubs and Michigan Wolverines fan. A Big Ten girl through and through, Jamie graduated from Michigan before finishing her Masters degree in Sports Administration at Northwestern last year. Passionate about the intersection of sports and technology, Jamie works in digital media and sponsorship at Intersport in Chicago. In her free time, you can find her repping the 300 level of the UC at Bulls games, eating wings at the Birds Nest, laying on a North Side beach or listening to podcasts. Follow her @jamielitoff on Twitter and Instagram.

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