Week 4 of the NBA season is in the books and Michael Carter Williams returned from injury to continue his assault on the opposition. There remains lots of room for movement in our Watch List, however, as the rookies see their opportunities arise and disappear.
1. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
11 GP, 17.3 points, 40%, 5.7 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 3 steals, PER 19.5
Since his return from injury, Carter-Williams has averaged 17 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 4 steals. He was just 2 boards shy of a triple-double in the 76ers win over the Bucks as he put up 12 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists and 5 steals before fouling out. He followed that game up with 29 points and 7 steals against the Pacers on the road. No other rookie is even close.
2. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
13 GP, 12.3 points, 38.6%, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.7 steals, PER 11
Oladipo averaged 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.5 steals and a block in home-and-home series against the HEAT this past week. He has been hitting the three-ball at a reasonable clip, but still needs to improve his two-point shooting. Turnovers remain his biggest concern. He turned the ball over 9 times against Dallas a week ago Saturday and then 8 times in the first game against the HEAT. The Magic aren’t going anywhere, however, so they can indulge the price of Oladipo’s development. This rookie will continue to see big minutes.
3. Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
13 GP, 8.8 points, 37.4%, 2.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals PER 10.7
McLemore has been making a habit of disappearing after big games and in his 4 games this week, he sort of did it again. After dropping 19 points and 5 rebounds on the Suns in Sacramento, he had 8 points and 5 rebounds the next night in Phoenix and almost disappeared completely against the Clippers 3 days later. Then he hit 3 three-pointers against the Lakers for 15 points in a bounce-back effort in the same building the next night. In all it was a solid week for the rookie shooting guard, but some consistency would be nice. McLemore continues to shoot well from deep, but poorly overall, however, as long as the Kings aren’t playing for anything, he should continue to get lots of court time to work things out.
4. Vitor Faverani, Boston Celtics
15 GP, 5.9 points, 44.4%, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, PER 14.5
Faverani has been taking a back seat to Jared Sullinger lately and his reduced minutes are beginning to take their toll. Even with Kelly Olynyk out for about the next 2 weeks, Faverani hasn’t seen any uptick in playing time. He still can be productive in short shifts as he proved against Atlanta on Saturday with 11 points, 5 rebounds and a block in 14 minutes, however, it seems Head Coach Brad Stevens would like someone else to step up and take even these opportunities away from him. It will be interesting to see what happens when Olynyk gets back.
5. Nate Wolters, Milwaukee Bucks
12 GP, 7.5 points, 38.9%, 2.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 0.8 steals PER 11.9
Both Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour returned to the lineup on Saturday and Wolters could consider himself lucky to get 9 minutes. The Bucks are 2 wins and 10 losses to start the season and while none of this is Wolters fault, it is hardly a surprise that Head Coach Larry Drew put his 2 veteran point guards back in the rotation as soon as he could. Wolters has been a steady performer who has our attention, however, baring another key injury or unforeseen circumstance, this is likely the last we will see of him in the top 5 of our watch list.
Just missing the cut:
Steve Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
Mason Plumlee, Nets
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks
There are several top draft picks who have yet been able to leave an impression, so there is plenty of room for movement in our top 5. Look for Utah’s Trey Burke to make a push now that he is back in action.
It’s a long season that is just getting underway. If you think we have over looked or overrated a rookie, let us know in the comments below.