Just like everyone was saying back in June, this is not a very strong rookie class. There are a lot of guys hitting the proverbial rookie wall as 2014 has been a rude awakening to players who ended their 2013s on high notes. Most of them are struggling in so many areas that it's hard to imagine them snapping out of it.
In case you missed it last week, their deficiencies do not coincide with what Rookie Time was about. That column went over the top 10 rookies over the past five seasons and indicated rookies tend to get three more minutes per game after the break and have almost two more rounds of fantasy value. Bang it here to read the entire column to check out a few other trends over the previous five years.
The following is a rest-of-the-season ranking for all of the rookies in 2013-14. These rankings also favor players who may get a bump in minutes as a result of their teams being sellers at the deadline. I covered the first five guys on this list in greater detailed because they're fantasy relevant to everyone while the 99 percent of you guys could care less about Isaiah Canaan and Ricky Ledo.
Follow me on Twitter for more stats, shot charts and observations @MikeSGallagher.
1. Victor Oladipo - It’s been a bumpy ride for Oladipo lately. He was handling the point-guard duties for Jameer Nelson earlier this month and even had an 11-dime game, but he’s been coming off the bench over the past four. In that span, the rookie averaged 16.0 points, 3.5 boards, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.8 triples on 50.0 percent from the field and 88.2 percent from the line. That's good for fifth-round value in that span. It’s not a surprise to see VO put up some good numbers next to Jameer. While Nelson is on the court so far in 2014, Oladipo shot 44.9 percent from the field on a usage rate of 20.3 percent. Without Jameer, he shot just 39.6 percent with a usage of 27.4 percent.
He is been very aggressive in his recent outburst with 52.2 percent of his shots coming from inside of three feet. Plus, his turnovers are starting to have a downward trend. He is pointing up the rest of the way.
2. Michael Carter-Williams
- He’s a bit of a hot topic in hoops and we’re going to try and dissect him a little more than usual. Quite frankly, his offensive game has fallen apart. Here’s what his shot chart looks like in 2014:
Breaking it down even further, he’s shot 20.4 percent on his jump shots, but he’s been very effective with his shots off the dribble. In 2014, he’s 12-of-18 on his pull-ups and runners, which is a very low total from his 162 jumpers. It’s pretty obvious teams have learned how to defend him and he’s been blocked way too much. In fact, Carter-Williams has been blocked a league-high 58 times in 2014 and Zach Randolph
is a distant second with 37.
The numbers are always informative, but some of the time the tape helps. Most of MCW’s points come off pick-and-roll as the ball handler, so I watched the last 35 PNRs on Synergy and there were some tendencies. First and foremost, he made just 13 of those 35, which is fairly close to his season average of 35.7 percent. The good news is he made eight of his 14 in the last two games before the break. However, the bad news is that came against two of the worst pick-and-roll defenses in the NBA in the Warriors and Jazz.
On the whole, he really does a good job of separating from the screen and can get into the lane better than most point guards. Carter-Williams is also fairly adept with both hands and he’s been able to finish when he gets there. On the other hand, teams are defending him differently in this situation. There seems to be more people going under screens and forcing him to shoot his jumper. If you’re a visual person or not hip to the lingo, I posted a Vine on Twitter here (keep your eyes on Klay Thompson).
The rookie also has been keying on the basket a little more and has taken some highly-contested 5-10 footers rather than passing. The bottom line is he really needs to get a jumper. In the spirit of Spring Training, how about a baseball analogy? Basically, MCW can’t hit a curveball, so he needs to learn how to hit one. In other words, MCW’s bats are sick. He cannot hit curveball. Straightball he hit very much. Sorry, I had to get a Major League reference in there.
Things aren’t going well on the other end either. His steals are going down a lot. MCW was leaving his man quite a bit earlier in the season to help on another player, or what some will call cheating. As a result, his steals numbers dropped from 3.5 from back in December to 1.5 in January and he’s at just 0.8 in February. He’s going to have to reinvent his game on both ends and his owners shouldn’t be expecting him to be anywhere near his tremendous start from back in November and December.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
- It’s been bad lately. Really bad. Antetokounmpo’s horrible January shooting of 40.2 percent from the field and 65.7 percent from the line was just the beginning. In February, he’s at just 28.1 percent from the field and 55.0 percent from the charity stripe. On top of that, he has more fouls per game (2.0) and turnovers (1.8) than field goals per game (1.5) this month.
Earlier this season, Alphabet made his money predominantly on cuts and transition buckets. According to Synergy, here’s how he scored his buckets this month: one spot-up jumper triple, two offensive board putbacks, one transition layup, one layup as PNR ball handler, one ISO jumper and a dunk off a cut. That’s it. So he only had two buckets from his bread-and-butter. It’s also worth mentioning he’s 3-of-20 in his last four games. Yikes. Let’s shot chart his 2014 (left) compared to 2013 (right):
The big drop off is from around the rim. On top of that, he only attempted 54 percent of his shots from within eight feet from 2013 vs. 65 percent from back in 2014. He’s also taking way too many mid-range jumpers in 2014. His usage hasn’t even really gone up, which is a bigger concern. In 2014, he’s sitting at a somewhat low 17.1 percent and was at 15.9 percent back in 2013. Obviously, the teenager should not have his usage rate in the high teens.
The Bucks have to get him the ball in transition more because his man isn’t completely ditching him which allowed all of those aforementioned cuts from earlier in the season. There is still a lot of upside, but his owners might have to put some faith in coach Larry Drew
to get him the ball in more advantageous spots. I know. I’m scared too.
4. Tim Hardaway Jr.
- He’s actually changing his game a little bit and creating his own shot. Back in January, he was almost exclusively shooting catch-and-shoot triples with a whopping 92.9 percent of his 3-point makes coming in that style. That has changed as he dropped to just 86.6 percent already. Although, he’s shooting just 23.5 percent from deep this month, so the Knicks should probably get him more looks off the catch.
The rookie has also taken 5.0 two-pointers per game this month, which is way above his December monthly average of 2.6. If the Knicks are serious about making a run in the playoffs, they’re likely going to have to trade away one of their wings. Whether it's Hardaway Jr. or Iman Shumpert
, there could be some minutes available.
Hardaway Jr. probably will never been the type of player who can do it all and is really just a shooter, but that’s valuable to some degree. If you need some 3-pointers, he could be a 1.5 per-game guy.
5. Trey Burke
- Similar to Carter-Williams, Burke has really struggled in the scoring department. Let’s do the same thing for Burke as we did with the Greek Freak with his 2014 on the left and 2013 on the right:
At the end of the day, that shot chart on the left has him at just 33.2 percent from the field. His 30.2 percent from within eight feet is absolutely putrid. Plus, he’s only at just 34.2 percent in the restricted area in 2014, which is way below his 51.9 percent from 2013. That doesn't even make sense for a professional basketball player.
What’s more, he’s scoring just 28.1 percent of the time in isolation and 30.1 percent on spot-ups this season. The only area he’s decent is in pick-and-roll scoring, making 40.8 percent on the season. In 2014, he has basically been right around that number, so there hasn’t been much of an improvement.
Simply put, Burke seems like he’s a little bit scared when he gets in the paint. While Michael Carter-Williams
doesn’t care about getting his shot blocked as evident by his ridiculous 58 in 2014, Burke is at just five in that span. Considering how much smaller he is, that number should be a lot higher. Plus, he’s attempted just two free throws in his last 10 games compared to just 118 field goal attempts. Think about that for a second.
Maybe the Jazz should hire George Karl
to tell Burke about getting to the line more. It’s more about this being in his head and he just has to be more fearless around the basket. He’s got a lot of work to do and is not improving whatsoever.