I don't know how many of you guys have read anything from Hollinger on ESPN.com but the guy drives me nuts and i was just wondering if I am the only one whos tired of his PER bullshit. His column about the best sophmores in the league put me over the edge today. Ill post the text on here since its insider
Last season's Rookie of the Year chase was pretty much over after the first week of play. That's how far Chris Paul was ahead of the pack.
Hollinger's Rookie Review
The rookie class hasn't been spectacular, but there are a few standouts. Check out John Hollinger's top newbies. Top 10
But this season, the top sophomores have pulled into a much tighter bunch. Surprisingly, not one of them made the All-Star team, but several have had breakout sophomore campaigns to establish themselves among the game's rising stars.
As I've done with the rookies, I'm going to rate the top 10 members of the sophomore class on this season's play. The same rules apply as with the rookies -- recent play counts more, and we're not worrying about long-term potential.
So let's see if anyone's caught Paul:
10. (tie) Ike Diogu, Indiana; Hakim Warrick, Memphis; Jason Maxiell, Detroit; Ronny Turiaf, Lakers; and Sean May, Charlotte
Call it the "I'm a talented young power forward but I can't get on the court" club.
Each of these five has shown tremendous promise, but is boxed in by equally talented frontcourt players on his team. Thus, despite the eye-popping numbers they've all put up in limited minutes they've had trouble earning more playing time.
Each also has side issues as well that have kept him off the floor: May can't stay healthy, Diogu struggles on defense, Warrick lacks muscle, and Turiaf and Maxiell are slightly undersized and have too much competition for playing time.
But all five of these guys are going to be quality players, and it's just a question of when and where they get an opportunity to get some more minutes.
9. Monta Ellis, Golden State
In his second year out of high school, Ellis has blossomed into one of the league's better young scoring guards.
Granted, the enthusiasm is tempered a bit since he stayed in high school longer than the characters in "That 70s Show," but Ellis' rate of 20.3 points per 40 minutes is the second best among all sophomores. (At No. 1, believe it or not, is his former teammate Diogu, at 21.7 points per minutes.)
The question going forward is whether his best long-term position is point guard or shooting guard. As the game evolves toward smaller lineups, the latter answer seems more likely.
8. Jarrett Jack, Portland
As if Portland's phenomenal rookie class didn't give teams enough to worry about in coming years, the Trail Blazers also have a strong sophomore in Jack.
The point man isn't likely to become a scoring machine, but at a solidly built 6-3 with good feet, he could become one of the league's better backcourt defenders over the next few years.
That size also gives him an advantage in the lane, where he overpowers smaller guards and earns frequent freebies at the line (88.2 percent).
Now he just needs a 3-point shot (30.0 percent for his career) and he's all set.
7. Danny Granger, Indiana
Granger is one of those guys I subjectively like more than his stats show (yes, this happens to me, too), because he can do a little bit of everything.
He's developed a reliable 3-point shot (40.0 percent), he can defend both forward positions and he's picked up his scoring to a healthy 16.4 points per 40 minutes.
One gets the impression he might be capable of bigger numbers if Indy called his number more often, but we won't really know that until it happens.
Meanwhile, the sudden dip in his rebound rate this season is cause for concern.
6. Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee
Bogut has proven to be a reasonably solid NBA center, but we can't help but feel slightly disappointed in his sophomore campaign.
The hope in Milwaukee was that he'd use the move to his natural center spot to take a step toward stardom. Instead, it seems he put on too much weight and has been slower than a season ago.
Bogut supporters point out he's not getting many touches, but that doesn't excuse the soft approach at the other end for the league's worst defensive team.
So instead, let's focus on the big picture -- he's 22, he can shoot and pass, and he holds his own on the boards.
5. Andrew Bynum, Lakers
A big reason the Lakers have been so competitive has been the surprising emergence of Bynum in the middle, which has allowed them to weather the loss of Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm without skipping a beat.
This is amazing if you think about it. Most teams that lost their top two centers would either be frantically scanning the D-League or spending nights on the phone trying to talk Felton Spencer out of retirement, but the Lakers just plugged Bynum in and chugged along like nothing happened.
He is shooting 54.3 percent and has established himself as one of the game's best-passing big men, but the boss still isn't impressed -- Lakers coach Phil Jackson shocked me and the other reporters present when he went on a lengthy monologue about Bynum's poor work habits before a recent game in Atlanta.
4. Jose Calderon, Toronto
Apparently the criteria for choosing voters for the sophomore team included "didn't watch any Raptors games." Or give me a better reason why Luther Head is on the team and Calderon isn't.
(I actually do think Head should be in Vegas, by the way -- but in the 3-point competition, not suiting up as one of the nine best sophomores.)
Calderon showed he could run the team while commanding the second unit at the start of the season and then, when T.J. Ford went out with an injury, took over the controls and maneuvered the Raptors into first place.
The improvement from his rookie season is shocking -- he's nearly doubled his points per 40 minutes from 9.4 to 16.8, his rate of 9.5 assists per 40 minutes is among the league's best and he's shooting 52.7 percent from the field.
3. David Lee, New York
The no-brainer choice for this year's Sixth Man award, Lee's magnet-like offensive rebounding skills have made him an instant energizer for the Knicks.
Lee averages an astounding 13.8 boards per 40 minutes, giving him the league's fourth-best rebound rate, behind Dwight Howard, Reggie Evans and Dikembe Mutombo.
But that's only half the story with Lee -- the other part is his phenomenal shot-making skill. Shooting a league-leading 61.2 percent from the floor while converging 80.9 percent from the line, Lee's 66.1 true shooting percentage ranks second, behind only Steve Nash's.
Lee would rate second on my list of sophomores if he were a better defender, but he struggles sometimes in strength matchups.
2. Deron Williams, Utah
One of the most improved players in the league, Williams appears notably quicker than a season ago and has helped lead the Jazz to a surprising perch atop the Northwest Division.
He's second in the league in assists, and appears to be only gaining steam -- on Wednesday, he single-handedly led the Jazz to a crucial win over Cleveland in their final game before the break.
Oddly, Williams has put up his banner season while slumping badly on 3-pointers -- he shot 41.6 percent as a rookie but is down to 31.8 percent this season.
But he's made up for it with a vast improvement on two-point shots, one created by his getting far more layup chances than a season ago.
1. Chris Paul, New Orleans/Oklahoma City
A year ago he was in first by a mile. Now his lead is much smaller, as he's missed time with injuries and has failed to take another step forward from his shockingly successful rookie season. Paul edges Williams for No. 1 thanks primarily to his ballhawking defense -- his 1.86 steals per game will crack the top 10 once he gets enough games. However, he also boasts a higher per-minute scoring rate (19.4 to 18.6) and an edge on the boards, advantages that become larger once you allow for the Hornets' slower pace.
And of course, Paul remains as slippery as any guard in the league off the dribble. If he ever masters the 3-point shot (28.2 percent), he'll be well nigh unguardable, and even without that weapon opponents have a great deal of difficulty staying in front of him.
Best of the rest
By now some of you have probably noted that the name Raymond Felton didn't appear anywhere on the above list. There's a reason for that -- he hasn't improved. Folks could forgive his shooting 39.0 percent as a rookie because they saw the talented package that came with, but now that he's shooting 38.9 percent as a soph, we have to consider the horrifying possibility that he's just a mason.
It's not like his scoring numbers are that great either -- just 15.1 points per 40 minutes -- and he still makes too many turnovers, so players like Jack and Ellis have surpassed him.
And let's throw a nod toward Milwaukee's Charlie Villanueva, who would almost certainly have made the list if he hadn't been hurt nearly the entire season.
The thing that pisses me off most is that Jose Calderon is fourth while out boy monta is NINTH!
What do you think?
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