Updated 12:23 AM EST, Wed, Jan 27, 2021

NBA 2014 Rookie Rankings: Five Under-the-Radar Rookies Set to Make an Impact This Year

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Year after year, the NBA draft reaffirms a single point: top selections are nothing more than a shot in the dark. For every Kevin Durant there is a Greg Oden, marred by an inability to stay healthy. A Kwame Brown; the No 1. pick-turned-journeyman whose only reputable season came with Washington as a 21-year-old. Every draft isn't complete without its Adam Morrison. Gonzaga's hosanna whose NBA career lasted all of three seasons.

History doesn't imply Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker will be busts. Far from it. Success, however, tends to find lower draft picks.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Michael Carter-Williams each fell outside top ten draft picks last season, yet found themselves in Rookie of the Year award voting. Carter-Williams deservedly won, becoming one of players in league history to average 16 points, six assists, and six rebounds per game in their rookie season.

Who will be this year's Carter-Williams? Let's take a look at potential candidates.

James Young SG- Boston Celtics

James Young didn't get the notoriety he deserved last season, thanks to Kentucky teammate Julius Randle's stellar play. Young still averaged 14.3 PPG and a team-leading 20 in the Wildcats' national championship loss.

Scoring, above anything, is what Boston expects from Young. The Celtics ranked 28th in offensive rating last season. They placed 13th among Eastern Conference teams in PPG and field goal percentage. If Young starts it will be because Avery Bradley and Jeff Green aren't playing up to par.

Rodney Hood SF- Utah Jazz

Utah lacks a proven scorer. That's probably why head coach Quin Snyder has said he plan on having multiple ball handlers. After all, the Jazz were abysmal from three-point land last season, ranking 24th in three pointers made and 25th in shooting percentage.

This is where Rodney Hood makes a difference. Hood shot at least 4.8 threes per game at Duke last year, making 42 percent. He's a deep threat that is aware of his surroundings. The only reason Hood isn't an outright starter is Gordon Hayward, Utah's leading scorer in 2013-14.

With time, Hood will prove his worth, and may upend Parker as the better player coming out of the 2014 draft.

Elfrid Payton PG- Orlando Magic

Few pegged Elfrid Payton as a first-round selection heading into pre-draft workouts. With all Orlando gave up for his rights, Payton needs to prove why he was worth Dario Saric and two future picks.

Unlike Hood and Young, Payton's strength isn't in his shooting. The Louisiana-Lafayette product is an impeccable passer. He can drive the lane and create opportunities for Magic shooters.

Payton finished the Orlando Summer League averaging seven assists and 5.2 rebounds per game, exhibiting his stellar pick-and-roll. His success, and only shot at surpassing Victor Oladipo on the depth chart, rests with his passing and defensive game.

Cleanthony Early SF- New York Knicks

New York is as injury-prone as team's come. Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani missed extensive time over the last two years and the Knicks got little from the bench in between. If Cleanthony Early's Las Vegas Summer League performance is any indication, new head coach Derek Fisher will have a more viable option.

Early averaged 11.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG during the summer. At 6-foot-8, he isn't an imposing small forward, but excels around the basket.

When he's not backing up Carmelo Anthony, expect the former Wichita State forward to get playing time at the 4 spot. Rumored trades of Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith would only give Early more playing time. Either way, New York may have the draft's biggest steal with their No. 34 selection.

Jordan Clarkson PG- Los Angeles Lakers

Steve Nash is on his last legs and Jeremy Lin becomes a free agent next summer. The Los Angeles Lakers needed a point guard this offseason. With Jordan Clarkson, they may have gotten a long-term solution.

Clarkson may not even need a Nash or Lin injury to break the starting rotation. He led the Lakers' summer league team in scoring and rebounding. Missouri's leading scorer last year averaged 17.5 PPG. It's a welcomed sight to a Los Angeles team desperate for offense in Kobe Bryant's absence.

Aside from Nick Young and Julius Randle, few Lakers have as much upside as Clarkson.

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