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NBA 2017/18: Rookies who will outplay their draft position

Here are some of this season's rookies who will outplay their draft ranking and make NBA teams regret passing on them.


Every year, there are a couple rookies who make teams regret their draft-day decisions. It looks like it will be more of the same in the 2017/18 season.  Here are some players who look likely to surpass their draft positions and be labeled as bargain pickups by the teams that took a chance on them.

Kyle Kuzma

The Lakers took Kyle Kuzma with the 27th pick in the draft and so far it looks like they got a steal. Kuzma played exceptionally well in the NBA Summer League, even earning himself championship MVP honours. During Summer League, he averaged 21 points and 6 rebounds and showed the ability to make three-pointers consistently, which was something he lacked in college. While Summer League is not always the best indicator for the season ahead, Kuzma’s ability to perform at a high level against fellow rookies and NBA hopefuls shows that he has the skill and motivation to perform in at the highest level. 

Caleb Swanigan

Caleb Swanigan, the Purdue power forward who was taken with the 26th pick by the Portland Trail Blazers, has a work ethic that will allow him to outperform his draft position despite the concerns about his athleticism. The main reason that Swanigan was drafted so late in the first round was because teams were worried that he was not mobile and agile enough. However, the 20-year-old has all the intangibles required to make a lasting impact in the NBA. Following a rough childhood during which he had to deal with many personal issues, Swanigan has developed a strong character that has undoubtedly taken him to where he is today. He is a team-oriented player who will be a consistent contributor for Portland in the coming years. 

Dennis Smith Jr.

Dennis Smith Jr. looks like he will be the starting point guard for the Mavs this season and his performance in college and Summer League are good indicators of future success. The ACC Rookie of the Year even has a good chance of becoming the NBA Rookie of the Year. Smith Jr. is incredibly quick and athletic, and one of the best in this year’s draft class at blowing by defenders and getting to the rim. He also has incredibly quick hands which helped him average almost two steals per game in college. Smith Jr’s play style should fit in well with Rick Carlisle’s system and, combined with Nerlens Noel’s presence on the floor, the Mavericks’ ability to turn the ball over in their favor will be unmatched. 

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Terence Hui

I am a writer for the NBA section at RealSport. My sport interests include baseball and basketball.

I am currently studying at Queen's University.

NBA 2017/18: Rookies who will outplay their draft position

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