I was thinking it would be nice to have a thread devoted only for rookies and their performance, instaed of mixing it all in the random thread. We have a NBA forum, after all...
So, to spark some conversation, I'm gonna talk about my top 5 rookies so far, in order:
1.- Tyreke Evans: I had him as a top 3 pick in last year's draft, but didn't think he'd be so good so soon. NBA ready body, leadership qualities, great work ethic, has an impact at both sides of the court... his only negatives are his awful 3pt shooting and that he's played much better since K-Mart got injured.
ROY so far, above Jennings.
2.- Brandon Jennings: I'm quite surprised by the way he's played. Was the rookie of the first month of the regular season and has cool down a bit since then, but still having a pretty good season. He seems to be playing more of a team game right now, instead of shooting so much as he did in the first month.
I thought he was a mid first rounder, at best... and I have to say I was totally wrong with him. And the best is (probably) yet to come.
3.- Omri Casspi: This may come as a bit of a surprise, but Omri Casspi is having a big season as well, and so deserves this spot. He's among the league leaders in 3pt shooting (first among rookies), has improved his rebounding numbers and is starting to make his free throws as well.
So far, he's been the steal of the draft, the player nobody knew he'd be this good, not even the team that drafted him.
4.- Stephen Curry: Say what you want about him, but I'm quite happy with his development, considering the circumstances (having to deal with Nellie and a system that relies on Monta scoring 40 per night to have a chance). I just don't think he's settled in all that well with our team, for the reasons exposed above, but I blame Nellie more than Curry himself.
5.- Ty Lawson: His numbers are not that eye-popping, but he's been a really great addition to the Nuggets, particularly now that Billups is out. He plays with speed, and that's a great trait, but he's also more mature than I thought. He's the kind of playmaker Anthony Carter ain't, and that's something the Nuggets second unit needed.
Hopefully, people will start noticing him more now that Billups is out.
Props to other guys close to making this list, like Jonas Jerebko, Marcus Thornton, Wesley Matthews, DeJuan Blair or Jonny Flynn (among others), but I had to choose and felt like the guys I picked have displayed more than those others.
Talk about anything general in the NBA here.
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Around 3 weeks for him to be ready to resume basketball activities, and you can add around 2 more weeks for him to be ready to play and have some kind of impact.
I agree with your top 5 list. I probably put Lawson #4 ahead of Curry but they are pretty close. Lawson does not have big numbers, but he might be the most consistent rookie this year.
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Geoff Petre, the GM of the Kings is the most underrated GM in the NBA. He's been there for several years now, and for a small market club, he's drafted and traded more positives than negetives.
The Kings SHOULD trade Kevin Martin. As I have said for several years now, is all about numbers and stats versus being a winner and a leader. He won't make this team better when he returns. Never has, never will. This is Tyreke's team now, and he probably wont like that. The team has a good nucleus and can maybe package him and Spencer Hawes to a team like Toronto or Phoenix or New Orleans to get Amare or Bosh or West (though i dont think NO wants Martin).
Evens, Casspri, Thompson all have boatloads of potential. Add a veteran to this club and they can be dominate for years.
I thought this would be a good time to bring this thread up again....
I wanted to talk about the last two drafts, both of which have been incredibly good for the league, in terms of depth, at least.
Just take a look at yesterday's game and from the 2009 class we can see 6 guys playing key roles for their teams (including a few like Marc Gasol, Westbrook and Brook Lopez that look close to the real ASG) and two very good role players.
As for the 2010 class, it's still soon, but Curry and Evans also look like future all stars, Blair is a f*cking monster than one day will lead the league in rebounding and guys like Jennings, Casspi, Harden or Flynn look like really good starters.
Just thought it'd be interesting to talk about how deep the last two classes have been...
TMC, I agree that the past two draft classes have been a much needed boost to the NBA. Some really fantastic players. Below is a "debate" between ESPN guys Bucher and Broussard debating whether this rookie class or the sophmore class is better.
QUESTION: Which NBA class is better, the rookies or the sophomores?
Bucher: Before we get started, I just want to thank my good friend Broussard for taking the least defensible position in these debates so far: that the NBA class of 2009 is better than the class of 2008. I promise I'll return the favor at some point.
Broussard: Before you go ahead and start patting yourself on the back, recognize that I waxed you in our first debate about All-Star changes, and I'm going to get you again.
Bucher: Well, I'm going to sit back and win this debate with one name: Derrick Rose. As a rookie, he led a marginally talented team to the playoffs and nearly deposed the defending (albeit injured) champs in seven games. And he's performing a repeat act this year. He's already put himself on the ultra-short list of guys around whom you'd build a franchise. As full of nice surprises as the 2009 class has been, there is no one of his caliber. I've got a royal flush coming, and it starts with an ace high.
Broussard: If you're pinning all your hopes on Derrick Rose in this argument, you're sorely mistaken. Sure, Rose is terrific. But Tyreke Evans is having a better rookie season than Rose did, and he's arguably playing as well as (if not better than) Rose is now. Other examples: Though Brandon Jennings has cooled off from his historically hot start, he's still having a great rookie campaign; Stephen Curry is playing better and better amid the colossal dysfunction in Golden State; and while you may be forgetting Blake Griffin, I'm not -- he'll be a star.
As for Rose's leading a "marginally talented" team to the playoffs, wasn't that the same "marginally talented" team that several pundits picked to reach the NBA Finals a few years ago? You've wildly underrated Rose's supporting cast last year. Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Brad Miller, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich -- a rookie point guard could do much worse than that. In fact, one is: That would be Jennings, who has a truly "marginally talented" roster on the cusp of the playoffs.
Bucher: The beauty of the '08 draft is that it had it all -- a superstar in Rose; franchise-nucleus types like Russell Westbrook, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez and Eric Gordon; late first-rounders who are starters, such as George Hill, Courtney Lee and Nicolas Batum; and serious second-round contributors in Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Goran Dragic.
Broussard: If second-round picks excite you, how do you like DeJuan Blair, Sam Young and Chase Budinger? All are playing key roles off the bench for teams in the rugged Western Conference playoff hunt. And I haven't even mentioned DeMar DeRozan, who's starting on a playoff team (Toronto) and has star potential as well, or James Harden in OKC. Oh yeah, Taj Gibson also starts on a playoff team (Chicago), beating out the ballyhooed former No. 4 pick Tyrus Thomas. You want more? How do you like Omri Casspi? And don't sleep on Terrence Williams and Earl Clark. I'm sure you know the Suns really like Clark, and with some maturity, the skywalking, multifaceted Williams could be a very nice player.
Bucher: I could've listed every guy as you did and said what I think they're going to do. That's not a debate, that's trading fantasies. Teams always like their picks until they don't. Stop telling me what they're going to be, maybe, someday. Williams and Clark are on teams desperate for what they can do, and they haven't been able to deliver. Period. The Nets can't stand Williams, and since they're in your backyard, you should know that. Here's a simple measure: 10 guys from the '08 class were starters as rookies. I count seven among the '09 guys and that's generously giving you Darren Collison.
The '09 class has had a lot of nice surprises, no doubt, and I have the tremendous benefit of gauging my group by a second year of growth, but as I look at this year's rookie class, I see two guys who are certified cornerstones, both now and later: Evans and Jennings. Griffin would be in that group, but he's been hurt all year, so he counts no more than Ricky Rubio.
Broussard: Don't compare Griffin and Rubio. Griffin will be a star, Rubio a solid starter. Speaking of point guards, this rookie class has two, maybe three stars (Evans, Jennings and Curry, who averaged 19 ppg, 5 apg on 48 percent shooting in January). Then, it's got five others who will be starters for the bulk of their careers (Jonny Flynn, Ty Lawson, Roddy Beaubois, Jrue Holiday and Collison, who's averaging 15.5 ppg and 7.7 apg in 13 starts for Chris Paul). And one or more of those five may be stars as well.
Evans is clearly a cornerstone-type player. Seven current NBA players averaged 20 or more ppg as rookies: Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. Evans is on pace to become the eighth. That's some pretty stellar company, son. And Jennings? You gave him his props, so I won't school you on him. But I'll say that even as his scoring has dropped, he's improved in assists and turnovers and has done what neither T.J. Ford nor All-Star Mo Williams could -- make Andrew Bogut better.
Bucher: Good Lord, you're going with scoring averages? Really? Me, I like results. As in W's and L's. What, if I point out that Evans (who I've said is a cornerstone) is not a true point guard, I'm hatin'? I can and will compare Blake and Ricky, in that neither of them is playing in the NBA this season, which means they don't factor into this conversation.
Broussard: You're going to blame Sacramento's record on Evans, a 20-year-old rookie with one year of college basketball experience? How well did the Cavs do in LeBron's rookie season? Answer: 35 wins. And Williams? The Nets can't stand his attitude, but they know he's a talent. That's all I'm saying. And speaking of New Jersey, I guess you think your boy Lopez is "delivering" (to use your word). Wait a minute, I thought you were about W's and L's. Oh, that was just when it fit your argument.
Bucher: Keith Van Horn averaged 19.7 points as a rookie; Glenn Robinson averaged 21.9; Damon Stoudamire, 19; Steve Francis, 18 -- all decent players in their day, some even All-Stars. Point being: A rookie's scoring average on a bad team is no guarantee of anything. And stop Rush Limbaugh-ing me, i.e., claiming I said things I never did. For instance, I never said a word about Lopez, other than counting him as a starter, because, yes, stats on bad teams are highly overvalued. I happen to think he's going to be a solid center, as do the Nets, but we'll see. Any player worthy of putting on an NBA uniform can get impressive stats with enough minutes, especially on bad teams.
Broussard: So what's the argument -- which class is better as rookies, which class is better now or which class will be better long-term? As you said earlier, you've got the benefit of a second season with your class. What can I do but project based on what they've done in what, 50 games? You don't want to project because you know these rookies (especially the point guards) look to be headed for incredibly promising futures.
Bucher: Maybe you're misunderstanding what I'm saying. You can project based on present trends, not what you'd like to see happen. That's why I offered a concrete number of starters from both classes as rookies -- it portends their potential based on something real. Again, after Tyreke and Brandon, where are your cornerstone players? Mine are Rose, Mayo, Westbrook, Love and Gordon. They were germane to their teams' success last year, and they've built on that this year. Whatever the argument is, which class was better as rookies or what they project to be in the future, the '08 class comes out on top.
Broussard: What success? Gordon's Clippers won 19 games. Love's Timberwolves won 24, as did Mayo's Grizzlies. Don't get me wrong: I like all those players (a lot). I'm just showing the inconsistencies in your argument. When you mention "cornerstone" players, I think you mean players who can be part of a good team's core. I'll assume that rather than assume you mean a team's No. 1 player, because besides Rose, none of the guys you mentioned projects to be a No. 1 player on a good team. I believe Evans and Jennings could be No. 1 guys on good teams. As for core guys, I think the '08 rookies have Curry, Flynn, DeRozan and Harden. Griffin (if he stays healthy) certainly looks like a core guy, and I'm not even mentioning Lawson, Beaubois (who, granted, has a way to go) and Collison.
Bucher: I completely left out Marc Gasol. That's how talented the sophomores are. So many I can't even keep track of them all. And two starting centers -- three if you count Roy Hibbert. But I won't, because that would just be piling on.
Here is David Thorpe ranking his top 20 using the past two draft classes. I disagree with MANY of these.
1. Brook Lopez, Nets
It's almost ironic that the top prize from these past two classes is a starter on possibly the worst team in NBA history. But that's how rare and valuable a franchise center is. Don't let the Nets' record fool you; Lopez is good enough to push a lot of teams into title contention.
Lopez does almost everything well on both sides of the court and has handled the mess in Jersey as well as can be expected. And there is still a lot of room for growth in his game. Over the next few seasons, I see him becoming a special player.
2. Derrick Rose, Bulls
Now that he's healthy again, we are reminded of what sets him apart from most other point guards. In terms of explosiveness and power, he's the LeBron James of his position. He has a great vibe about him, too -- he's happy to dominate the game but just as happy to watch a teammate take over.
As Rose's court vision and jump shot improve, he'll only grow as a weapon for the Bulls. As it stands now, he's already an All-Star who can propel a team into the playoffs.
3. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies
Gasol probably has less All-Star potential than some of the players listed below him, but no one doubts he can anchor a strong team. His skill set allows a coach to run any number of offensive sets because Gasol can be plugged into so many spots with varied roles.
He's an excellent midrange shooter and a great finisher inside, and he'll be more athletic in the next few years as he learns to utilize his leaner body. On defense, he's a decent shot-blocker who also has an uncanny ability to rack up steals. Teams can spend years waiting to find a talent like Gasol at center.
4. Kevin Love, Timberwolves
One way I like to categorize players is by asking, "Do teammates like to play with him?" For Love, I believe everyone in the league would say yes.
His outlet passes are legendary, so sprinters love when he gets a rebound or takes the ball out after they give up a bucket. He's a great and willing screener, so scorers love using him to get free. And he's added a 3-point shot to his game, so now he helps his teammates by spreading the floor. Not to mention, he's a rebounding machine who can score 20 points in a game when necessary.
5. Russell Westbrook, Thunder
He can't shoot. And he's not a great finisher at the rim, either. But Westbrook still impacts and controls the game on a few levels and has proven to be a key factor in the Thunder's surge. Scary thoughts for the rest of the league.
When a player is as productive as Westbrook is -- despite his youth and underdeveloped skill set -- it's a sign that his intelligence and athleticism are carrying him. As his skills improve, so will his overall impact.
6. Tyreke Evans, Kings
With the Kings sinking back to the bottom of the league (they are 4-20 since the miracle comeback in Chicago), questions are resurfacing about what position Evans should be playing. To me, it's not the appropriate question. Yet.
On a team this bad, he certainly is not hurting the Kings with his ability to score, rebound and be the primary ball handler. If the team ever figures out how to defend the paint and begins to win half its games, then the question of Evans' best position has more meaning. And when that happens and he settles into whatever his permanent spot ends up being, he has the game to shoot up this list.
7. Anthony Randolph, Warriors
Most 20-year-old basketball players in America are playing their sophomore season in college. Randolph, meanwhile, has been a very productive and efficient NBA player. If this list were based purely on upside, he'd be ranked even higher.
Questions still exist about his lack of maturity and whether he's better as a 3 or a 4, but I love the improvement he showed before he got hurt. He's one of the most versatile big men in the game and, if he ever learns to shoot the ball well, could be an All-Star someday.
8. Greg Oden, Trail Blazers
Despite yet another season-ending injury, Oden is still highly regarded as a basketball player because we know what he can do in this league when healthy. He's like Yao Ming, who also has trouble staying healthy but won't be traded anytime soon because he's just impossible to replace.
Oden can rebound, defend and finish in the paint. And he's a great teammate with a good-natured personality. That is a very rare package to find, especially in a 7-foot, 285-pound frame. Had Oden stayed healthy up to this point, he'd be No. 1 or No. 2 on this list.
9. Michael Beasley, Heat
Beasley has settled into his role as a solid scorer and capable rebounder in Miami. But there are those of us who think he could be a high-level scorer in this league if he played in a different system that didn't feature one of the world's best offensive talents.
However, that is not suggesting he'd be better off elsewhere. He is certainly benefiting from learning how to play a more complete game. After all, he has multiple 20-and-10 games this season and has made progress with defense, decision-making and ballhandling. Still, if he does not learn to compete on every possession, his potential decreases substantially.
10. O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies
I'm not sure which of Mayo's talents is most impressive -- his ability as a deep shooter, his competitiveness or his willingness to play off of Gasol, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph on offense when he clearly could be a 20-plus ppg guy. Finding shooters who can defend with toughness and finish at the rim is not easy -- typically two of those three traits is the best a team can do.
Mayo likely won't be the best player on a playoff team, but he's good enough to be the best player in a playoff series. And he might get that chance in April.
11. DeJuan Blair, Spurs
Blair's free fall to the No. 37 pick may go down as one of the biggest NBA draft blunders ever. Teams just couldn't wrap their arms around his ACL-less knees. For the record, doctors were more concerned with the long-term erosion of his cartilage due to having no ACLs than they were about him to potentially suffer a major injury.
But now that teams see him doing what he has always done on the basketball court -- wreak havoc in the paint -- they realize their mistake. There are 29 other NBA teams that could use Blair as either a starter or an energy guy/rebounder off the bench.
12. Ty Lawson, Nuggets
Lawson, like Blair, is so valuable because he can greatly help his team as a starter or a reserve thanks to his game and maturity level. The same can not be said for every talented player.
Lawson's ability to shoot, distribute and handle the ball makes him extremely difficult to counter because he's just so fast on the court. It also seems likely that he'll be able to handle a slower game, so projecting him to manage the pace in a playoff game is easy.
13. Brandon Jennings, Bucks
Who is the real Brandon Jennings -- the young man who tore up the league in November or the one who has struggled the past two months? I see it like this: If a player can play great for a month, then that is the goal to shoot for down the road, since he showed the ability to reach that level to begin with (as opposed to hoping a player can reach that level without ever seeing him do it).
Jennings has grabbed a lot of attention in basketball circles, so consequently he will be very busy at All-Star Weekend in Dallas. Ironically, though, it's probably the worst thing for him. If any player needs time to catch his breath and re-energize for the second half of the season, it's Jennings.
14. Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies
Even though he has done little thus far, Thabeet has a spot on this list because he can be a game-changing presence on defense. You do the math: Four of the top five defensive teams in the league right now are title contenders, and the other is the league's most improved team (Thunder). Meanwhile, Memphis plays its best defense when Thabeet is on the floor.
His minutes will improve as his offensive game develops, but he does not have to score much to be effective. It's very hard to find a player who can impact the game the way Thabeet has the potential to do.
15. Stephen Curry, Warriors
Curry is the toughest guy for me to gauge. I absolutely love his game and have always believed he could be an excellent point guard. However, I still see him as a bit unproven, simply because of where he is playing -- Golden State is so unlike any other NBA system. Otherwise, he'd be higher on this list.
He appears to be a good playmaker and perhaps can become an excellent one. And, of course, he's a terrific shooter, so he can play in any system and with any players. Imagine him in a Cavs uniform. Or a Heat one. Wow.
16. Marreese Speights, 76ers
Before the 2008 draft, I wrote that the two biggest "upside/downside" guys were Speights and Randolph. In both cases, we're seeing why (although they both appear to have more upside than downside).
Speights is an offensive phenom, kind of like Al Jefferson and Amare Stoudemire in that he can get buckets in a variety of ways in the paint. He's improved as a shooter from 16 feet to 19 feet too. If he rebounded better, he'd be higher on this list. But after a season and a half, it does not appear that this will be an area of strength for him. Still, players who demand a double-team in the post are rare, and Speights could end up being in that category.
17. Danilo Gallinari, Knicks
We all know what a sweet shot he has, but it seems Gallinari is more of a niche player than I'd like such a young guy to be. He's not asked to do much beyond shoot 3s and run, though he mostly just shoots 3s.
It's possible he can do more, and it's also possible he is going to get much better, just as fellow Italian Andrea Bargnani has. But even if he just maintains his current level, he's a valuable player because he's such a good shooter and he's eager to show it.
18. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves
I watched Flynn get benched the other night in favor of Ramon Sessions even though Flynn was not playing poorly. He responded by being the most animated cheerleader possible, celebrating loudly as his team came back and beat Memphis.
After the game, it was reported that Flynn was asked to go back in but declined out of respect for how well Sessions was playing. That only solidifies my feelings that he would be an incredible option for a team as a sixth man. But in any event, an attitude like that, combined with his dynamic abilities to attack off the dribble and shoot, makes him an important piece to any puzzle.
19. James Harden, Thunder
Had the Thunder not acquired defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha last season, we'd be seeing more of Harden, who can help a team both as a scorer and as an all-around player, which is a rare combination.
Harden is one of the top three passers on this list and, in a few years, should be one of the best defenders on this list, too. Because the team is built around Kevin Durant's talent, we don't always get to see Harden's gifts. But as the Thunder's young core grows together, I expect we'll see Harden's offensive production jump. If you told me that in two seasons he'll be second in scoring, assists and steals in OKC, it would not surprise me at all.
20. Ryan Anderson, Magic
There is ample evidence that a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy exists in the NBA in the form of draft picks. Lottery picks, for example, are given far more chances to succeed than lower picks, even when it appears that should not be the case. Extra chances equal extra opportunities. So players like Anderson, drafted outside the lottery and stuck behind talented veterans, have to fight more to get the same treatment given to a lottery pick like Gallinari, a similar player in most respects. And it may never happen.
God, that list is absolutely terrible. I mean, I agree with most of the names... but the rankings... man, just sooooo wrong.
I may post my own top 20 of the past two drafts... as soon as I have the time.
Yes, they are terrible. One thing I forgot to mention, this was his rankings based on quality of play today, but ALSO what he projects in the future. But even that, I dont agree with much of that list.
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So little Curry love from those idiots.
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