Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 1/25/13
With the Cavaliers having two rookies playing prominent minutes, WFNY thought it would beneficial to see how the fresh meat around the league is faring in comparison with the Cavalier rookies. Each week, we’ll have NBA rookie power rankings where we’ll rack and stack the freshman class of the NBA. The rankings will be weighted with the most recent games carrying the most importance, but the whole body of work will be taken into account. Great beards and great celebrations may also play a large factor. 1. Damian Lillard (Last Week: 1) The mid season rookie of the year had another strong week, averaging just over 21 points and 7 assists in 3 games, including a win against Indiana that snapped the Blazers’ 6 game losing streak. Lillard has received praise from the media, coaches, and even LeBron, but now we can add future hall of famer, Gary Payton to that list. In an interview with Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk, Payton gave his endorsement of Lillard for Rookie of the Year. “I like Damian Lillard because he’s from Oakland, California, and he’s a phenomenal basketball player,” Payton said. “He should be the rookie of the year, he’s playing very well right now for Portland and I love his game.” While Lillard has a long way to go to match the career of “The Glove” and another great Oakland point guard, Jason Kidd, Lillard is well on his way.   PER PPG APG MPG STL Damian Lillard 16.6 18.3 6.6 38.5 1 Gary Payton 13.2 7.2 6.4 27.4 2 Jason Kidd 15.1 11.7 7.7 33.8 1.9   When taking a look at the rookie seasons from the three Oakland natives, Lillard clearly stands out. While Payton and Kidd both got off on the right foot in their NBA careers, playing large minutes, dishing out assists, and swiping away steals, Lillard separates himself from them with his scoring. Kidd and Payton are both locks for the hall of fame, but neither came into the NBA scoring at the rate Lillard has. 2. Anthony Davis (Last Week: 2) The Brow put together his first back to back double-doubles of his career, and also became the face of the New Orleans Pelicans this past week. The Hornets will have a new name and colors when they tip off next year, but the focus will still be on the patch of hair between the eyes of last year’s number one pick. Davis has crept back into Lillard’s rear view, but it’s a rear view of someone driving across flat plains of Texas. Lillard is still miles ahead of Davis at this point, but at least Davis is showing signs of what made him the unaminous first selection last June. Against Golden State, Davis posted 20 points and 12 rebounds to go along with his 4 blocks. That right there is the type of game you hope for, and expect out of the number one overall pick. Davis was on his way to another strong showing in the Hornets next game against the Kings, but once again Davis had to miss time to nurse an ailing ankle. Davis’ lack of minutes due to injury and “lack of conditioning” have really held him back in Rookie of the Year talks. The Brow has given future Pelicans fans reason to be hopeful with bright performances here and there, but that can be said about Beal, Waiters, MKG, and Drummond. All have had their moments, but none having you thinking you’re for sure watching a future superstar. 3. Andre Drummond (Last Week: 4) Andre Drummond is a force. He’s the guy you want first off the bus to let your opponents know what’s coming for them. He’s the guy who makes you think twice about taking it strong to the hoop. And he’s the guy who can’t seem to buy any more minutes from coach Lawrence Frank. It appears fans in The D will have to wait until next year to see the big man strut his stuff in extended minutes, but in the mean time, Andre continues to make an impact when his number is called. 1 With Drummond’s size and athleticism, defenses must pick him up on his rolls to the basket. If they dont,  they’ll end up like Boston and get featured in a dunk fest video on youtube. Without a body being thrown at him, Drummond is free to crash the rim, wait for the lob/rebound, and stuff home an easy two. 4. Bradley Beal (Last Week: 3) I’m a big proponent of the “Aint no curses”  Friday Night Lights quote that Billy Bob Thornton delivers to his nervous quarterback before a tiebreaking coin toss. That being said, after months of being down on Bradley Beal, and ripping him for not being the elite shooter he was billed as, I finally jumped on the bandwagon. Go figure as soon as I give in and proclaim, “Bradley Beal can’t miss”, he has a career worst shooting night. I tuned into the Blazers vs. Wizards game 2 hoping to see an offensive show between Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal. Instead, I was treated to an average performance from Lillard, and Beal’s worst shooting game of his career. Beal went 1-7  from the floor against Portland, and failed to earn a trip to the free throw line. This is what we call a buzz kill. Despite making me regret staying up late to watch a game between an abover average basketball team and bad basketball, Beal still has had a good month of January. Beal is shooting 46% from the field, 55% from downtown, and scoring 16.67 points per game through the first month of 2013. 5. Dion Waiters (Last Week: 5) In typical Dion Waiters fashion, the Cavs’ rookie guard played an impressive game last weekend against Utah, then followed it up with an uninspiring game against Boston. Against Utah, Dion attacked the rim, earning 12 free throws and converting on 10. Against Boston, Waiters attemped zero foul shots. It’s this constant up and down that is so frustrating to watch, but at least it’s a roller coaster ride and not just a free fall. While taking in the Boston game this week at the Q with my Dad, we sat there as Dion knifed his way through the Celt’s defense, flipped the ball up at the hoop, and watched the ball rattle around the rim and out. We concluded that Dion is great at getting to the basket, but he simply can’t finish. And unfortunately the point of basketball is the put the ball through that orange thing that’s hanging ten feet in the air, not just hit it. The optimist in me is thrilled with Waiters’ ability to create his own shot, but the pessimist in me has Dajuan Wagner flashbacks every time I watch a beautiful move wasted by poor finish. Fortunately for Dion, one of the league’s  best finishers is on the court with him each and every day. Maybe Uncle Drew can give the youngblood some lessons. Honorable Mention: Jared Sullinger Sully recorded his second career double-double in a homecoming of sorts at The Q on Tuesday. Doc Rivers put his trust in the rookie from Ohio State, allowing him to play crunch time minutes until Sullinger fouled out late in the game. Not even Sullinger’s Ohio State connection could save him from Cleveland’s crowd showering him with “Na Na, Hey Hey” as he was disqualified. ___________________________________ I love how Drummond wears number one. Who says the number one has to be constrained to the little, fast guy? Drummond wearing number one is like defensive linemen in college wearing numbers in the single digits. It’s awesome. After thinking about the  nicknames Trail Blazers and Wizards, Pelicans doesn’t sound so bad
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Chancellor 'strongly considering a camp holdout'

Colts become favorites to win AFC with Brady suspended

Dodgers reportedly acquire Mat Latos and Michael Morse

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Troy Tulowitzki felt 'blindsided' by trade to Blue Jays

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Drew Storen not happy about Jonathan Papelbon trade

Kraft apologizes for accepting team Deflategate penalty

RG3 reportedly showing improvement during offseason

Nick Saban addresses rumors of interest in Longhorns job

Garoppolo back in spotlight after Brady suspension upheld

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong, replaced a broken phone

Jay Bruce and Carlos Gonzalez: Twin trade chips

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Canseco will live as a woman to support Caitlyn Jenner

Giants owner says nobody from team has seen JPP's hand

Conor McGregor admits he's intimidated by Ronda Rousey

NFL requests police guard Roger Goodell's Maine home

Baseball Hall of Fame changes voter eligibility rules

Atlanta Hawks should not be overlooked next year

Baseball's antitrust exemption: Its uncertain scope

The Cubs-White Sox trade that would rock Chicago, MLB

Cincinnati Bengals could look at signing WR Reggie Wayne

Brandon Marshall on marijuana tweets: ‘I was just kidding'

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Kobe to see time at power forward next year

Mike Pettine not ruling out Manziel

Galette appears to unload on Payton

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker