On this edition of ESPN’s 5-on-5, a panel of writers gave their take on which newbie will make the biggest impact in ’11-12? Over his career?
Here is what they have to say.
Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Ricky Rubio will have the biggest impact for his team next season. Rubio instantly makes the Timberwolves a must-watch team, as his incredible passing ability is sure to take the highlights and League Pass by storm. It doesn’t mean he’ll make the Wolves a contender, by any means, but at least he makes them noteworthy.
Kyrie Irving will have the better career, though. He could easily be a top-10 point guard in the league for the majority of his career. He’s such a solid and efficient player that he could end up being a great second or third option for a very good team.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Next season: Kawhi Leonard instantly solves the Spurs’ Richard Jefferson problems in two ways — Leonard is a combo forward the Spurs can use to match up against smaller, quicker lineups, and he provides significant rebounding from the 3 when the Spurs play big.
Career: I know it’s hard to (A) give too much credit to a GM for making an obvious move, and (B) give any credit to Timberwolves GM David Kahn, ever. That being said, we will look back at this as the “Derrick Williams” draft.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: Gregg Popovich hates rookies, but I’m thinking Kawhi Leonard has a chance to be an impact player next year for a team coming off a 60-win season. He fills a role that’s been missing in San Antonio since Bruce Bowen retired. Don’t overthink this: Kyrie Irving is the top talent in this class and should have a long, productive career.
Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom: Kawhi Leonard gets my vote for Part 1. His hustling mentality will earn him minutes right off the bat for an aging yet still competitive Spurs team. But long-term, I like Alec Burks. His scoring ability will translate well to the NBA level. And his spotty defense is just a question of effort, which can be fixed.
Michael Schwartz, Valley of the Suns: I’m going with the most efficient scorer in college basketball on both counts, Derrick Williams. The Arizona product will be a matchup nightmare with his devastating inside-outside game, and Ricky Rubio will ensure he receives plenty of good looks. Williams will be the best of a rookie class low on impact players.
Majority of the analysts believes in Leonard’s immediate impact. However, they also think that either Derrick Williams, Kyrie Irving or Alec Burks will have a better NBA careers than Leonard.
Do you agree with this take Spurs fans? Tell us what you think. It’s time to chime in.