|Which rookie will have the biggest impact on their team next year? (sikids.com)|
BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.
Not Shabazz Muhammad. Is that too general? Fine. It's coming from left field, but my pick is Jeff Withey, the No. 39 overall selection. The Portland Trail Blazers' center position is far from settled with last season's 80-game starter J.J. Hickson on the free agent market and sophomore Meyers Leonard still a work in progress. No way will Withey be the starter, but he could certainly be making an argument for himself by the All-Star break. Leonard had a strong first year and is on course to be better in 2014-15, but Withey is a fantastic paint protector with the length and positioning to block any short-range shots by opponents. He did as much in two years at Kansas, including a breakout redshirt junior season in which he played a major role in the Jayhawks' march to the NCAA Championship game. Portland's shaky history with big men makes this a leery choice, as does the fact that Withey will play significantly fewer minutes than most rookies, but his intangibles -- inherent footwork and ideal size for shot-blocking -- are things that can make quickly associate a player's name with a team's culture and reputation. It happened in 2012-13 with Larry Sanders in Milwaukee despite questions about his consistency and ability entering the season, not to mention the Bucks' anomalous frontcourt situation. Given even a glimpse at an opportunity, Withey could quickly establish himself as one of the NBA's premier defensive big men, and with Damian Lillard feeding him in the post, he could cause enough commotion on the offensive side of things to warrant a look at a bigger role.
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