Prior to the NBA Draft, the 2012 class received mixed reviews from all the critics. The draft had a clear number one: Anthony Davis. It had a few potential star guards: Damian Lillard, Dion Waiters and Bradley Beal. It even had the athletic postmen, Andre Drummond and Thomas Robinson. But it seemed to lack real depth.
After watching this class play for over a season now, there are clear front runners for who may be the stars in the league for years to come. The GMs who picked these players are patting themselves on the back because they got it right. They were able to see the potential (and did a little guessing) and now we’re watching them develop into something special. These sophomores are proving why they were picked when they were, or why they should’ve been picked even higher.
Later today, we’ll drop our list of the five worst sophomores in the NBA, and considering it’d be stupid to hold a top-10 pick to the same standards as a second rounder, we’re sticking to lottery picks. We did the same here to keep it consistent… in other words, the only eligible players were ones picked in the lottery during 2012.
Here are the top five sophomores in the NBA this season.
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5. DION WAITERS
The number five choice was a challenging one. I chose Waiters over Harrison Barnes because I believe Waiters gets a bad rep for being on the wrong team. He is a guard who needs the ball in his hands to be effective and with Kyrie Irving having one of the highest usage rates in the NBA (30.2), Waiters won’t be as productive as he can be. But with all that being said he still manages to score 13.9 points a night.
Waiters probably shouldn’t have been taken at the four spot, but he is still valuable to his team, despite the bad fit. Another reason I chose Waiters over Barnes is not only for his ability to guard the guys Kyrie can’t, but his incredible knack to catch fire and light a team up for 20-30 points. So far this season, Waiters has six 20-point games and is shooting 41 percent from the field. He is a fast-paced type of player who may not be starter material, but can provide an explosive spark from the bench. While choosing Waiters at four might have been too high, especially for the Cavs to take him, he is turning into a solid NBA two-guard.
4. BRADLEY BEAL
Bradley Beal, as the No. 3 pick in the draft, was anything but a mistake for the Washington Wizards. They needed a strong shooting guard who was smart and could play along their star point guard, John Wall. In his rookie season, he showed some promise but you didn’t really see many praising him for his play. It’s a month and a half into his sophomore season and now many are starting to see his value and potential. Before Beal went down with an injury three weeks ago, he was showing the world his strong ability to score.
Beal is averaging 20.9 PPG and is shooting nearly 44 percent from behind the arc, proving why he is the best shooting guard of the sophomore class. Though Beal got off to a hot start, the Wizards did not, but most of the Eastern Conference hasn’t performed well either. This has left the door open for the Wizards to potentially sneak into the playoffs and have Beal’s abilities showcased on a national stage. I believe Beal will continue to develop, making him and Wall one of the best backcourts of the future. If he can stay healthy, Beal will be near the top of the next generation of great NBA two-guards.