In a postseason that seems to be just a little more wild than typical, there are numerous rookies contributing on a large scale on the biggest of stages.
Here is a look at the rankings and grades of rookies so far this postseason.
1. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
The former-UNC sharp shooter has shined on the most exciting team of the postseason thus far. With the “Splash Brothers” of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson drawing most of the attention, Barnes has been the quiet assassin for the Warriors.
In over 38 minutes per game, the rookie is averaging 15 points and 6 rebounds on 37% shooting from deep. In his single college season, Barnes was often criticized for relying on his perimeter jump shot too often. That has not been the case eight games into his postseason career. Barnes is playing solid perimeter defense, rebounding well, knocking down open shots, finishing in transition, and attacking the basket often.
While Barnes may be just 20 years of age, he has looked like a seasoned-vet during Golden State’s exciting run in the playoffs.
2. Patrick Bevereley, Houston Rockets
Patrick Beverley started the 2012-2013 playing his basketball in Russia. After landing a contract with the Houston Rockets, he made the most of it, despite the team’s first-round exit.
After Jeremy Lin went down with a chest injury, head coach Kevin McHale inserted Beverley into the starting line-up, making him the second half of a back court duo starring James Harden.
Beverley did not let a minute of playing time go to waste. Energy, toughness, and a never-say-never attitude quickly made the rookie valuable to the Rockets and noticed by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In 33 minutes of work on average, Beverley contributed 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists.
3. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Golden State were one of the biggest winners of the 2012 NBA Draft. Not only did they land Harrison Barnes who is impressing on a nightly basis, second-round pick Draymond Green has played crucial minutes in the Warriors run to the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Green possesses a rare combination of strength, quickness, shooting ability, toughness, and a high IQ. The Michigan State product has averaged over 20 minutes for Mark Jackson’s team so far throughout the playoffs, and has played well. Draymond is averaging 7.4 points and 5.1 rebounds on 49% shooting and an even more impressive 50% shooting clip from deep.
In the series-clincher against Denver in the first-round, Green added 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. For a second-pick, Draymond Green is proving to be a diamond in the rough. Tom Izzo is sitting at home proudly watching Golden State play.
4. Pablo Prigioni, New York Knicks
The oldest of this rookie class, at 35 years young, Prigioni has clearly played on the biggest stage of all rookies this season. Not only are the Knicks expected to meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Prigioni has dealt with the pressure of playing in the “Big Apple” all season long.
While his numbers, 5.7 points and 3.1 assists in 22 minutes, are not all that impressive, it is Prigioni’s ability to run Mike Woodson’s offense that makes him so impressive. His savvy for a rookie, along with his discipline make him valuable to New York.
Prigioni doesn’t force many shots but doesn’t pass up open looks from deep to the extent that Jason Kidd does. His decision making and mental toughness for a guy that is still in his first year in the league is remarkable. Prigioni may not post the numbers that some of the other guys are, but don’t think for a second that he isn’t just as valuable.