Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, Nicolas Batum
Portland's four-pack of rookies has helped raise the team's expectations for the season. Fernandez, a Spanish combo guard, eyes an American breakthrough after scoring 22 points against Team USA in the Olympic gold medal game. Bayless is an explosive scorer who is learning the point guard position. Batum, a preseason surprise at small forward, is competing for a starting job. But the biggest buzz is reserved for Oden (pictured), the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, who should contend for Rookie of the Year honors after sitting out last season while recovering from microfracture knee surgery.
2 of 18David E. Klutho/SI
The No. 1 pick in the draft gave Bulls fans a taste of what they hope is to come when he torched the Mavericks for 30 points and seven assists in a preseason game.
3 of 18Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
The 6-foot-9 forward from Kansas State hasn't quite secured a starting spot under coach Erik Spoelstra -- his defense lags well behind his offense -- but an NBA.com survey of the league's general managers showed that nearly half believe Beasley will edge Greg Oden for Rookie of the Year.
4 of 18Greg Nelson/SI
O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur
Mayo (pictured), the third pick in the June draft, is expected to be a big scorer right away as Memphis' starting shooting guard. Gasol, the younger brother of Lakers 7-footer Pau, looks to shine Stateside following impressive performances at the Olympics and in the Spanish ACB League, where he was MVP last season. Arthur could carve out a role as a sweet-shooting big man off the bench.
5 of 18John Biever/SI
Love has struggled a bit in the preseason, including a 1-for-10 shooting game against the Bulls, but the Timberwolves love his feel for the game and hope that he can give Al Jefferson some help inside.
6 of 18Greg Nelson/SI
The No. 4 pick, out of UCLA, has struggled with his shooting and committed too many turnovers during the preseason, but the rebuilding Thunder can afford to be patient while he tries to settle in as a point guard.
7 of 18Greg Nelson/SI
Eric Gordon and Mike Taylor
With some explosive exhibition games, Gordon (pictured) already has showed why the Clippers took him with the seventh pick. But the real surprise has been Taylor, a former D-League product and Iowa State guard. Taylor, a second-round pick (No. 55 overall), has earned a spot on the team with a strong preseason.
8 of 18AP
Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts
Lopez (pictured), a 7-footer out of Stanford, seems to have the upper hand for the starting center job, while Cal product Anderson and former Memphis star Douglas-Roberts are likely to be in the rotation for the young, rebuilding Nets.
9 of 18AP
The 7-footer from Nevada is being considered as a possible starter in place of injured center Brendan Haywood. After seeing McGee up close, Hornets All-Star point guard described his athleticism as being in the ''Dwight Howard category.''
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Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush
Hibbert (pictured), a 7-1 center from Georgetown, is an offensive project but should make an immediate contribution on the defensive end. Rush, the No. 13 pick, is a lockdown perimeter defender who can also score.
11 of 18Marc Rasbury/Icon SMI
Gallinari has missed most of the preseason because of a back injury, leaving his status in doubt for the first week of the regular season. The Knicks are eager to see the skilled 6-10 forward, who could be a good fit in coach Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced system.
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The No. 19 pick could have a hard time getting consistent minutes in a Cavs frontcourt that includes veterans Zyrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao and Lorenzen Wright.
13 of 18Robert Beck/SI
Jason Thompson and Donte' Greene
Sacramento is another rebuilding team that will give ample opportunity to its young players. Neither Thompson (pictured) nor Greene has shot the ball well in the preseason.
14 of 18Lou Capozzola/SI
The Florida product is competing with veterans Theo Ratliff and Reggie Evans for backup minutes behind power forward Elton Brand and center Sam Dalembert.
15 of 18Bob Rosato/SI
Augustin, the ninth pick, will open the season playing behind point guard Raymond Felton. He has shot under 30 percent from the field in the preseason.
16 of 18John W. McDonough/SI
DeMarcus Nelson and Anthony Randolph
The undrafted Nelson (pictured) has proved to be the biggest surprise of Golden State's training camp. He might even start at point guard on opening night. Randolph, 19, the No. 14 pick, will need time to develop, but the Warriors love his upside.
17 of 18Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Hampered early in the preseason by an abdominal strain, the No. 8 pick should be a good long-term fit with coach Scott Skiles, who values tough, hard-working players like Alexander.
18 of 18John W. McDonough/SI
His energy, shot-blocking and willingness to defend are welcome additions in Phoenix, where Brook's twin could be pressed into significant playing time if Shaquille O'Neal continues to struggle with injuries as he has the past three seasons.
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