Top Rookies to Watch for the 2016-17 NBA Season

This years batch of NBA rookies are a mixed batch of youthful players, experienced players and some players who seem to have potential to be NBA game changers but as always, the proof is in the pudding.

From a rare skill set in the likes of the overall number one pick, to experienced players having been through proven NBA player producing college systems, these are players I see as impact players, either this season or in the very near future.

The overall draft is loaded with potential and talent, and it appears that much of the success of this year’s class will depend on the system they find themselves in and how they are used.

Denzel Valentine 

He led Michigan State in points, assists and steals, but Valentine’s leadership was much greater than statistical categories. The versatile forward may be the most NBA ready, and as the unquestioned floor leader, emotional leader and crunch time go to guy, he takes the tools that coach Izzo’s leaders leave Michigan State with into the NBA.

Think Draymond Green now with Golden State. His biggest hurdle may be finding the right role with the Chicago Bulls, a team that is in the midst of some transition and player turnover. If Chicago figures out how to utilize Valentine and maximize his potential, the results could be immediate.

Buddy Hield 

His shooting ability is obviously his greatest asset heading into the next level. Unlike the previously mentioned Valentine, however, his role with the New Orleans Pelicans should be more clearly defined.

It isn’t hard to see him getting really good looks early and often with the Pelicans using the amazing talents of Davis inside as they could work an extremely effective inside out game.

Brandon Ingram 

Rookies can hope for one of two situations coming into the NBA. Either joining an established and successful team that will allow growth and afford learning experiences from proven winners or joining a team that is young and rebuilding.

Ingram, with his skills and athleticism (although he will need to add some size to his slender build), can be easily envisioned as a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Lakers and their young nucleus. There could be some concerns with the Lakers being too young, meaning who (other than the coaches) can help Ingram integrate his skills into the NBA game.

Kris Dunn 

Dunn finds himself in a potentially good situation with the Minnesota Timberwolves. A team lacking (and needing) one more good ball handler could find Dunn to be the answer and allow Minnesota to take advantage of their scorers who primarily need players to feed them in the right spots, and get the ball into the post for scoring looks.

The big question mark is how he will handle the defensive looks and the defensive minded guards at the Pro level. Summer league is one thing, the NBA season is another. Dunn may be the biggest unknown of my group of five, and he could also have the greatest impact too.

Ben Simmons 

Everyone knows the possibilities for this young stud, and his unique gift of possessing both physical strength and a soft touch makes those possibilities more than exciting. The big question mark for Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers is his jump shot, but that is also good news as this may be one of the easiest areas to improve upon, especially with his talent set.

The number one overall pick does carry the burden of being the number one pick, but once again this should highlight one more strength as Simmons has shown a maturity beyond his years. I don’t know if expecting him to immediately bring the 76ers to contender level is fair, but they will be better with him.