Only a handful of rookies manage to make a significant impact every season during their first year, mainly due to the pressure that they face from the media and the hype around them. The expectations build up as people try to project their role in their teams as future prospects.
The 2015 draft has brought us some interesting names. One of them is Frank Kaminsky, the 10th overall pick drafted by the Hornets. Luckily for him, the NBA experts have predicted the pressure that everybody puts on him to succeed is moderate mainly because he is expected to be the best sixth man on the team, which would be a nice jump start to become one of the more useful players in a team that is pursuing NBA Championships.
It’s strange why the Hornets would pass on the opportunity to get higher long-term ceilings, considering Kaminsky is 22 and without much athleticism or strength, but nevertheless, he is able to make an immediate difference as he can stretch the floor and knock down threes (the best 3P% in the team: 66.7%), so all in all Kaminsky is very likely to succeed to the best of his capacity.
The 4th overall pick, Kristaps Porzingis, one of the more interesting draft picks of Latvian nationality, was drafted by the Knicks. The pressure on Porzingis is high because much will be expected of him considering Phil Jackson passed on the opportunity to get a more proven option, for example, Willie Cauley-Stein.
However, Porzingis already has plenty of chances to make use of the minutes given to him because the Knicks don’t have many standout options for PF. At the moment he has 11.8 PPG and 8.3 REB, but a very low FG% of just 35.7. Predicting whether this player is going to succeed is a tough call indeed, but everything looks promising.
His fellow rookie colleague Jerian Grant has a more clear likelihood of succeeding in the Knicks team considering the little pressure that he gets as the 19th pick. He can assume a significant rookie role considering the Knicks’ desperate need of a playmaker, and Grant could be one of the keys to the team’s return to the playoffs. Even if he fails, he will not be judged for anything that Porzingis would be.
The biggest pressure is probably put over D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick selected by the Lakers, which surprised everybody considering they could have picked Okafor. One of the biggest pressure generators for Russell is the expectation for him to step up and assume a leading role in a team where Bryant is at the end of his pro career and very prone to injuries. Most of all, everybody expects Russell to help the Lakers return to the playoffs.
The biggest danger for his psyche is probably being outplayed by Jordan Clarkson, a 2014 second-round pick, which is already happening considering Clarkson is the PPG leader in the team, while Russell is just sixth with 8.5 PPG. If Russell continues so in the next season, his predictions will be bleak.