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4 NBA Rookies Expected to Replace Free Agents, Traded Players

Courtesy of USA Today Images

Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor were each drafted in the hopes that he’d become an NBA superstar. From Day 1, they’ll be tasked with finding a leading role while being expected to excel right away.

But some prospects selected in the 2015 draft won’t be focal points immediately. Rather, they’ll step into roles vacated by free agents who skipped town or players traded during the offseason.

Myles Turner, Center, Indiana Pacers

Indiana wants to play faster next season, so shedding a slow-footed center in Roy Hibbert was a necessity. Indiana traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers. While the Pacers utilize a smaller lineup with Paul George at the 4, Texas product Myles Turner can enter the lineup as a defensive presence and complementary offensive piece. Turner is a willing jump-shooter—though he needs to improve its consistency—but shouldn’t have much trouble protecting the rim.

Kelly Oubre, Small Forward, Washington Wizards

Paul Pierce roamed the perimeter last season, but “The Truth” headed to the Los Angeles Clippers via free agency. Kelly Oubre, a potential-filled wing with a smooth shooting stroke, can topple Otto Porter for a spot in Washington’s rotation and offer a long-distance scoring threat. Oubre connected on 35.8 percent of his three-pointers last season at Kansas.

Delon Wright, Point Guard, Toronto Raptors

Last season, Toronto showcased plenty of offensive firepower but sorely lacked a defensive presence. So, the Raptors allowed Williams—the 2014-15 Sixth Man of the Year—to leave for the Lakers in free agency, traded Greivis Vasquez to the Milwaukee Bucks and have since focused on adding defensive-minded players. Delon Wright will join Cory Joseph and step into those vacated spots and help improve Toronto’s glaring weakness. Wright registered 2.3 steals per game during his two years at Utah.

Justin Anderson, Small Forward, Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks effectively replaced Al-Farouq Aminu—a strong defender who signed a $30 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers—during the draft by taking Justin Anderson. It might take the small forward a year to fully acclimate himself, but the Virginia product has higher potential than Aminu. Anderson has the makings of a true three-and-D weapon, considering he buried 45.2 percent from from long distance and defended multiple positions as a junior.

Photo: USA Today Sports