1. Anthony Davis, Hornets: A-
13.2 PPG, 8 RPG, 1 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.1 SPG in 56 games
Here’s a simple question for those expressing disappointment about Davis’ rookie campaign, which has included injury setbacks and, perhaps, more modest numbers than many expected: Does he really look like anything other than a superstar in the making? Davis, who just turned 20, possesses a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 21.6 (the league average is 15), tops among rookie starters and second only to Pistons reserve center Andre Drummond’s 22.4 for first-year players. Even though he will likely be filling out his frame for the next half-decade, Davis has performed very well around the rim, taking almost 50 percent of his shots there and finishing 70.6 percent of them. His length, which made a mockery of the NCAA last year, has translated well to the pro game and it’s especially effective when he’s on the move, either cutting baseline or heading toward the hoop after setting a high screen. Staying with a player that mobile and long is essentially impossible for a solid chunk of NBA defenders.
His defensive impact is already being felt and will only become more noticeable as the Hornets improve and as his overall strength increases. Opponents have found success posting him up, but he’s far from the typical rookie big man who is susceptible to being picked on.
Overall, Davis would earn a solid “A” if not for his absences from the lineup. Again, this boils down to expectations. Franchise players over the last 10 years or so have evolved to a freakish level of durability. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and others have all played a vast, vast majority of their team’s games since achieving recognition as a key contributor. The standard for greatness is a high bar, but it’s the only measure that makes sense for a player with Davis’ gifts.
10. Austin Rivers, Hornets: F
6.2 PPG, 2.1 APG, 1.8 RPG in 61 games
It’s virtually impossible to assess Rivers’ rookie season without piling on. The numbers are just abysmal. Rivers, who has been out since breaking his hand on March 6, ranks last among qualified rookies with a PER of 6. He is shooting just 37.2 percent from the field. He has made only 40 percent of his shots at the rim, converted a below-average 32.6 percent from three-point range and hit 54.6 percent at the free-throw line. Gulp.
Eric Gordon’s unexpected absence definitely had the effect of throwing Rivers to the wolves. Playing for one of the NBA’s worst teams didn’t help, either, as he often found himself trying to create in isolation situations, where he performed exceedingly poorly. To make matters worse, Rivers has already had two surgeries since draft night. The upside here is that he’s still not 21 and the Hornets will ask much less of him next season, assuming Gordon is healthy. That’s a good thing, because he broke under the weight of the load this year.
Rivers did look like he was turning the corner when he got hurt though
Rivers is a D, not an F. He wasn't ALL fail, come on now! He played like a rookie, forced into action. He will only get better.