67RIEFNS No. 22: Disappointing second-year players looking for redemption


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

What do Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan, Joakim Noah, Mike Conley and Dirk Nowitzki have in common?

None of them made the All-Rookie first or second team despite the advantage of being a top-10 pick.

They – and others like them – turned out just fine.

The transition to the NBA from a lower-level is difficult. The competition is tougher, the season longer. We sometimes lose grasp of that, because the exceptions – the rare few who make it look easy – hog most of the attention. The quiet majority gets ignored.

Every year, players who struggled as rookies figure out how to play at this level. It’s difficult to predict who that will be, but it happens again and again.

The 2013 draft class, especially its top 10, had a historically difficult time making the NBA jump. That leaves a lot of candidates for breakthroughs.

Don’t close the door on Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or C.J. McCollum – top-10 picks who failed to make even the All-Rookie second team.

Bennett had surgery to help his sleep apnea, and he looked much better in summer league. Porter also had a strong summer league, though he’ll likely begin the season playing out of position. Len just can’t stay healthy, but the big man always looked like a long-term project. McLemore hasn’t lost his raw athleticism and talent. Caldwell-Pope, coming off his own dominant summer league, will have a huge role in Detroit. McCollum, with Mo Williams in Minnesota, is in line for a bigger role, too.

I don’t know which of the bunch will “get it” this season, but the odds are at least one will. The mystery – and fun – is seeing whom.