Category: Rookie Watch

Exum Fist Pump

#RookieWatch: Dante Exum

Being just under a third of the way through the NBA season its time to check back in on my Rookie to see how season number 1 is tracking.

As I stated in my initial Rookie Watch article, I’m a pretty tough judge on this kid.

There have been incredible glimpses of what he could one day eventually produce on a nightly basis but far too often there have been games where next to nothing has happened.


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Rookie Watch: Dante Exum

#RookieWatch Continues……

If you haven’t caught up on the articles that have been published thus far, make sure you get around to reading them.

The rookies covered by Nick Caro, Nick How and Matt Leslie are: Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton.

All three articles have been brilliantly written and not one is following any unique pattern, which I think has been my favourite thing to pick up on.

With that in mind, my article today is going to again be remarkably different. I’m quite tough on my Rookie and all for valid reasons. You be the judge and make up your own mind.


NBA: NBA Draft


Following on from Nick C’s opening Julius Randle Rookie feature, I have decided to choose new Boston Celtics draftee Marcus Smart. My decision behind the pick was that as a Boston Celtics fan, I feel I can give a true account to his Rookie season as I’ll be watching him more than any other rookie in the League, while trying to stay as unbiased as I possibly can.


NBA: NBA Draft




Rookie Watch: Elfryid Payton (ORL)

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana-Lafayette at Michigan State

Hands up if you had heard of Elfrid Payton before the combine? My bet is you didn’t. In fact, when I heard that my team had worked him out, I was puzzled, I knew nothing about him and yet they were looking at him for 7th pick. It seemed a stretch, at first, but I soon became enamoured with his defensive game and his athleticism. In the end, had the Lakers taken him, I probably wouldn’t have needed much convincing, I’d already sold myself.



Rookie Watch: Julius Randle (LAL)

It’s been a while since we’ve done Rookie Watch here at NBA Nation Australia.

Before the 2012/13 season we focused on Jared Sullinger, Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson throughout their rookie NBA seasons, and the features were always hugely popular. 

I chose young shooting guard Bradley Beal, as I believed firmly he would evolve into someone with the ilk of a truly great NBA player, who would be as fun to watch as he would be exciting. Thankfully, I’ve been proven right with Beal capping off a fantastic season for the Washington Wizards in the 2014 Playoffs. He’s becoming more confident in his role every day, and going forward will be an integral part of the Wizard’s plan. 

This year, with the NBA draft being so deep, we’ve decided to jump back on the rookie watch bandwagon, and cover a couple of the guys who perhaps aren’t getting quite the amount of hype or media attention they deserve. You have your Wiggins’s and your Parker’s, but we’ll be taking time out to check in on a couple of guys who are sure to be big players not only in the rookie of the year stakes, but also for their respective teams throughout the NBA season.

So, I’m choosing someone a little closer to my heart in ex-Kentucky Wildcat and 2014 NCAA runner up, Julius Randle, who was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 7th overall pick in the Draft.


These will be ongoing pieces throughout the year, so please feel free to forward us anything interesting you find relating to our respective players and we’ll include it in our reports. Be it a tweet, video, Instagram or an article… if you think it’s relevant, send it through! 

Standing a formidable 6 foot 9 inches, Julius Randle was one of the more polarizing figures in the 2014 draft. A Kentucky freshman, he was one of the Wildcats’ best performers throughout the 2013/14 NCAA season, helping his team reach the Championship game in March and while Kentucky lost to the University of Connecticut in a close contest, Randle was undoubtedly one of the highlights. Averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per contest, he shot 50% across 40 games for the Cats and lead the Nation in double-doubles with 24 on the year. Randle also played alongside Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in the 2013 McDonald’s All American game as well as the Jordan Brand Classic that year, one of six Wildcats competing in the event. 


The Lakers had been enamored with Randle throughout much of their 2013/14 campaign, and with their off-season focus turning towards the draft, he became their number one target. While Lakers management believed Randle would be off the board by the 7th pick, the Lakers were overjoyed when their rival Celtics took Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart at six, leaving the door wide open for them to claim their man. 

Called the draft’s “most NBA ready player” by the experts, the 250lb power forward will be heavily featured in Lakers coach Byron Scott’s rotation, especially now that their two time champ and star big man Pau Gasol has made the move to Chicago. Providing the team with stellar defensive efficiency, and the ability to muscle his way through traffic in the paint will mean big things for a Lakers team without an enforcer type player to throw his weight around down low. Randle can move with the ball, get his own shot, and out-muscle his competition on the glass – A huge advantage for the Lakers who were a lowly 25th in rebounding percentage last season.  


New team mate and fellow workhorse Kobe Bryant, who has made a career out of demanding the best out of his fellow players, was pleased with the drafting of Randle, given his love for hard work.

“I demand a lot from my teammates as well. Holding each other accountable, putting extra work in was what I had to do at Kentucky. It was what I demanded of my teammates and that’s what we did and that’s why we were successful.” Randle said on draft night. “He [Kobe] may get tired of me because I’m going to be bugging him, trying to learn stuff from him. I’m going to learn a lot from him.”

We believe you, rook. 

Summer League 2014

Randle’s first experience as a member of the Lakers came during July’s NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, NV where alongside fellow draftee Jordan Clarkson and a host of other Laker hopefuls, he impressed officials and sent a wave of excitement around Laker Nation. Whilst the Lakers finished the tournament with a 2-3 record, the two rookies were at the forefront of the team for the duration, impressing both fans and critics alike with a wide range of skills.

Missing the first game due to a contract mishap, Randle averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes across four starts, all the while shooting a respectable 44.8%. Both he and Clarkson are expected to arrive at Lakers HQ in El Segundo, CA this month ahead of training camp in early October.

Check out some of Randle’s highlights from the SL below: 

Social Media Highlights

As is the case with most high profile sports stars these days, social media plays a huge part in their day to day lives, as it does ours, so part of our rookie updates will include the best of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook throughout the season. in case you’re not already following Julius Randle, you can do so via the links below. For now, here are a few highlights so far:

Instagram (@juliusrandle30)

You can't handle Randle! He's already been signed by Nike on a rookie deal.

You can’t handle Randle! He’s already been signed by Nike on a rookie deal.

Meant to be. Randle actually grew up a fan of the purple and gold!

Meant to be. Randle actually grew up a fan of the purple and gold!












As is tradition in LA, the rookie takes in the sights at Dodger Stadium

As is tradition in LA, the rookie takes in the sights at Dodger Stadium

Randle with his biggest supporter as he is introduced to the LA media

Randle with his biggest supporter as he is introduced to the LA media












Twitter (@J30_RANDLE)




Name: Julius Randle

DOB: 29/11/1994 (Age 19)

Height: 6’9″

Position: Power Forward

Pick: Selected with the 7th overall pick by the LA Lakers in the 2014 Draft

College: University of Kentucky Wildcats


So there you have it – Julius Randle, the highest Laker draft pick since James Worthy in 1982. The kid has some big shoes to fill but we can’t wait to see how his game evolves during his time with the Lakers. Thanks for reading, and make sure you keep checking back for regular updates. Again, if you want to submit something to be a part of the next update, send it to us and we’ll include it!

Rookie Watch – Thomas Robinson (Sacramento Kings)

Hey team, @NickaRuss here.

By now most of you are across our plans. Each member of the NBA Nation team has chosen to profile an NBA rookie and follow his season closely. We will look at their development as a player and as a teammate, the good times, the bad times, will share highlights and try and help you know them better through their tweets, instagram snaps, interviews and everything that comes with being a rookie on the worlds greatest stage.

@Nick_A_How has already introduced you to Jared Sullinger of the Boston Celtics who has immense promise and is in a great position to really cement a place in the hearts of those passionate Celtics fans.

@NickoToGo chose Bradley Beal, the gun shooting guard from the Florida Gators who was picked up by the Washington Wizards with the #3 selection at last year’s draft. With John Wall at point, they should form one of the NBA’s most dynamic young backcourts for years to come.

It really wasn’t too hard of a choice for me when it came to finding a rookie to profile. At the start of this year I was living in New York and was fortunate to be right in the middle of the action when March Madness fever hit. As a basketball fan there is really nothing like it. A few players caught my eye during the NCAA tournament, but none more than the star player from the Kansas City Jayhawks, Thomas Robinson.  At first look, Thomas Robinson is a dynamic and aggressive 6 ft 8 (listed at 6 ft 10) power forward who’s athleticism and strength makes him an instant impact player in the NBA, but this wasn’t the only reason Thomas Robinson caught the attention of the nation, It was his heartbreaking story of tragedy and the triumph that grew out of the darkness.

In his freshman year at Kansas, Robinson was a little used bench player. His sophomore year saw an improvement in his time and stats, but still, Robinson couldn’t crack a starting spot. Then the worst thing imaginable happened. In the space of 3 weeks, Thomas Robinson lost his Mother, Grandmother and Grandfather, leaving him with no family apart from his younger sister, Jayla. His father had played no great part in their lives. Normally, this would be enough to devastate a young man, but not Robinson. He turned this heartbreaking tragedy into motivation to work as hard as he could to realize his dream and provide for his younger sister. He knew he was destined for the NBA, even if not everyone agreed. We all know what happened. His junior year was a breakout unlike any other. He led the Jayhawks into the NCAA tournament championship game, was named All American and if it wasn’t for Anthony Davis would have been a firm favorite for National Player of the Year. His story had touched the hearts of basketball fans all over the world, me included and I was so ecstatic for him when he was chosen by the Kings with the #5 pick. They must have been jumping for joy when he fell to them. With DeMarcus Cousins to pair with, all of a sudden, the Kings have one scary looking duo in the post. I am extremely excited about the chance to follow Thomas Robinson through his Rookie season at Sacramento. They are going to be very exciting to watch.

So here we go. Ladies and Gentleman…this is Thomas Robinson.


Rookie Watch – Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)


Heading into season 2012/13, we decided to shake things up a bit and as you’ve heard already from Nick How, we stumbled across an idea that not a lot of other blogs have. A rookie update! Over the course of this exciting new season, we’ll each select a rookie to follow throughout the year and keep you updated on their movement in the NBA and how their journey is progressing. These will be three ongoing pieces throughout the year, so please feel free to forward us anything interesting you find relating to our respective players and we’ll include it in our reports. Be it a tweet, video, Instragram or an article… if you think it’s relevant, send it through!

I tossed and turned trying to figure out who I would select as my player to follow throughout an entire season as it is quite a commitment, dedicating oneself to their movements for a long period of time. I originally decided to go with Darius Johnson Odom, a point guard out of the University of Marquette, selected by the Lakers via Dallas at pick 55 in the draft. DJO has fascinated me since I saw a segment on ESPN’s Sports Science which focused on his speed in transition offense and his ability to break ankles with lightning quick cross overs. Obviously being a Lakers fan meant watching him would be part and parcel with my love for the purple and gold, so that was another perk of choosing him.

BUT, I thought “Nick, we don’t like to take the ‘easy’ option here at NBA Nation”, and I decided I needed more of a challenge and get to know a player who I likely wouldn’t of spent much time on had I not chosen him. This young, athletic shooting guard was chosen by the Washington Wizards with the 3rd pick in the 2012 Draft from the University of Florida where he averaged 14 points a game on .44% shooting and just under 7 rebounds per game. He’ll play alongside the likes of Nene, John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor and Jordan Crawford for the Wizards in 2012/13 and I can’t wait to see what impact he has in the Nation’s Capital. He also dumped 28 points on me in 2K13 last night, Just because he can. This is Bradley Beal.



With the new season fast approaching the team at NBA Nation Australia threw some ideas onto the table for new features. We were looking for ideas that were slightly different, and in particular some that would be weekly rollover pieces.

We came up with the idea of each of us on the team to pick a rookie and to stick with said player for the full year. With each piece on our respective rookies we will be focusing on the past week, on how our rookie has played, his progressions, the areas of his game needing improvement, and also their influence within the league.

Also, moving aside from all the serious talk of stats and improving, we will be looking at our rookies social media influence. We wil be posting some of their better/funnier tweets from the week, quotes from interviews, and maybe their Instagram shots of their favourite breakfasts.

For our opening rookie feature, Nick How will be opening up with Boston Celtics’ Jared Sullinger.