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NBA's surprising rookie class
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Much of the world only knew one name heading into the 2012 NBA Draft - Kentucky big man Anthony Davis. And many thought Davis would be the only sure-fire fantasy-worthy player at the start of this basketball season, but that is certainly not the case.

The 2012 NBA Draft has already produced a number of players who are making a difference in fantasy lineups and a few who look like they can develop into stars down the road.

As we approach the halfway point of the season, let's look at the performances of some of the league's best rookies:

Damian Lillard, Portland - Just No. 6 on Draft Day out of lesser-known Weber State, Lillard has quickly jumped to the top of the list. Starting from the opening whistle, the 6-foot-3 point guard has played all 48 of his team's game and posted a stunning line - 18.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.0 spg and 2.3 3- pointers per contest. The antithesis of a rookie, Lillard has been extremely consistent, producing double-digit points in 45 of 48 games.

Anthony Davis, New Orleans - Davis wasn't a bad choice as the No. 1 overall selection, he just started a bit slower than Lillard due to various injuries. He's missed 13 of 48 games, while still averaging 13.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.8 blocks. He's still probably got a bigger upside than Lillard, but that may not play out until next season or further down the road.

Bradley Beal, Washington - Beal was third off the draft board and proved to be a solid option for the Wizards with star point guard John Wall injured at the start of the season. Since Wall returned on Jan. 12, Beal has scored slightly better, but lost ground in some of the other categories. For the season, he's averaging 13.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2.5 apg.

Andre Drummond, Detroit - The ninth overall pick out of Connecticut, Drummond has played well, improving in each succeeding month. He's averaging just 20 minutes per game and posting 7.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 1.7 bpg. The 19-year-old Drummond combining with 22-year-old Greg Monroe gives the Pistons a strong and athletic front line for the future.

Dion Waiters, Cleveland - The Cavaliers are becoming a guard-oriented team behind superstar Kyrie Irving and Waiters (14.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.2 apg). Waiter's biggest downfall is poor shot selection, typical of a rookie, which has led to a 37.8 shooting percentage. Coach Byron Scott has toyed with bringing him off the bench and he's actually averaged more in that role (17.1 ppg) than as a starter.

Harrison Barnes, Golden State - Barnes was inserted into the Warriors' starting lineup and hasn't given it up yet. He's started 46 of 47 games, averaging 9.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.5 apg. He's coming off a career-best game on Saturday (21 points and eight rebounds), but with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut on the floor, carving out enough shots to be fantasy worthy could be a problem.

Tyler Zeller, Cleveland - When the Cavaliers lost Anderson Varejao for the season, they inserted Zeller into the starting lineup and he has performed well, posting 9.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg in 22 starts. His fantasy value is likely only for the remainder of the 2012-13 season because Varejao should return to full strength at the start of next season.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte - Kidd-Gilchrist was averaging 9.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 apg through the first 45 games until a concussion last Saturday put him in street clothes. He began the season scoring 10.9 ppg for the first 30 games, but seemed to hit a wall in January and his scoring has dropped to 7.1 ppg.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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