Top NBA Rookies for 2008-09

Gary LloydSenior Analyst IJune 28, 2008

The 2008 NBA Draft has been over for nearly 48 hours.

The top prospects are working on their contracts in their new cities of residence.

The rest of the players are doing the same, all the while wondering if they'll be part of possible trades.

Right now, though, things are somewhat quiet around the league--behind closed doors, if you will.

That makes it as good a time as any to reveal the top impact rookies for the 2008-09 NBA season.

1. Michael Beasley, Miami Heat: Beasley will see more than adequate playing time right away for a team that won just 15 games a year ago. He can score so many different ways, no matter if he's playing small forward or power forward.

2. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: After being drafted by Memphis, Love was traded to the T'Wolves. He should put up great rookie numbers alongside future All-Star Al Jefferson.

3. Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers: Remember Oden? He was taken first overall in 2007, but missed all of last season with a knee injury. Assuming his knee is good to go, he should be a beast in the middle.

4. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: Rose may not start from day one, but he'll make practice difficult for Kirk Hinrich and Larry Hughes. The former of those two could end up in a new city before the season begins, though, allowing more minutes for the No. 1 pick.

5. Danilo Gallinari, New York Knicks: Knicks fans that attended the draft should apologize to Gallinari for the boos and jeers heard throughout the Garden. With his talent, he won't be booed like that again.

6. OJ Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies: Mayo was sent to Memphis in the aforementioned Kevin Love trade. Because of a couple previous lottery picks by Memphis, Mayo's minutes may be somewhat limited. He'll still have a big impact, though.

7. Rudy Fernandez, Portland Trail Blazers: Fernandez, like teammate Oden, was drafted in 2007 but didn't play in a single NBA game. He will, however, suit up for Portland this season. He's quite possibly the best player overseas, and I'm not willing to bet against his talent.

8. Brandon Rush, Indiana Pacers: Rush should provide instant perimeter defense and makes from beyond the arc. His length and athleticism will serve him well in Indiana.

9. Russell Westbrook, Seattle Supersonics: Westbrook should get significant minutes from the get-go in Seattle or Oklahoma City. He may very well lead all rookies in steals, and will surely tally up some assists dishing the rock to Kevin Durant.

10. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies: Marc, Pau Gasol's brother, was drafted in 2007 but chose to stay in Europe. He should be with the Grizzlies this season, and should be one of the top bigs in the rotation.

11. Eric Gordon, Los Angeles Clippers: Gordon will have to learn some point guard responsibilities, but his ability to stretch the defense is what will make him a solid rookie. Opening things up for Elton Brand and Chris Kaman in the middle is a must for the Clippers' success.

12. Courtney Lee, Orlando Magic: Don't be surprised if Lee earns the starting spot at the 2 for Orlando this summer. He fits Stan Van Gundy's system perfectly, and should be a nice complement to Dwight Howard and company.

13. Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets: The Nets have needed a go-to guy in the post for a couple seasons now. Lopez is their guy, despite needing to vastly improve his rebounding at the next level.

14. Donte' Greene, Houston Rockets: Tracy McGrady needs some help on the offensive end, and Greene has no problem putting up shots.

15. Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings: I was high on Thompson throughout his senior year and draft workouts. I didn't expect him to go as high as No. 12 overall, but his ability to bang in the post and shoot jumpers from the outside makes him an intriguing rookie for the Kings.


There you have it. Those are my top candidates for Rookie of the Year honors.

Let me know who yours are.