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Detroit News NBA preview: Top 5 rookies

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Ben Simmons

1. Ben Simmons, 76ers

He’s likely the best of the rookie crop, but a foot fracture could keep him out until January. The good part is the 76ers have been waiting on things to come together for a few years, so a few more months won’t hurt. Simmons is a rare blend of scoring, ballhandling and basketball IQ. The pressure to get the Sixers out of the doldrums won’t be too much for him.

2. Kris Dunn, Timberwolves

On a youth-driven roster, Dunn can make a huge impact if he gets a full-time opportunity to start and play heavy minutes. One problem: Ricky Rubio. He fell to the No. 5 pick, which may have been the best for him to fit in with the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. His toughness and all-around ability are the biggest assets.

3. Brandon Ingram, Lakers

The No. 2 pick, Ingram likely gets plenty of playing time with the woeful Lakers, but he’ll have to endure losing — and a lot of it — in his early years. Coach Luke Walton may choose to bring him along slowly, but because of the lack of talented depth, Walton may not have much choice. Given a couple years, he could be the best of the bunch.

4. Buddy Hield, Pelicans

The sixth pick, Hield is a talented shooting guard who will get ample opportunity to show his talents. He’ll be a complementary piece to Anthony Davis but without other shooters around him, Hield will be one of the main defensive targets. The national player of the year, he became a surprise star last season at Oklahoma but gets his chance to break out and lift the Pelicans to respectability.

5. Joel Embiid, 76ers

The No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft qualifies as a rookie because he’s been hounded by injuries since he was picked. There’s enough anticipation for Embiid that he’ll get a good look alongside Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. The preseason has been positive, but the 76ers must carry that to the regular season.

Rod Beard ranks NBA teams; Pistons ninth