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Thursday, December 30, 2010

NBA Trimester: 2010-2011 Rookie Report

As we are at the 1/3 of the way through the 2010-2011 NBA season, this is a great time to give you "That Sports Blog"' rookie rankings, top 5 and bottom 5. You can see my pre-season rookie rankings here (looking back, I wasn't too far off). On to the rankings, which are based off of draft position, expectations and overall productivity...

1. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
You've seen the highlights, the monster dunks, spin moves, and rebounds. Everyone knew Griffin would be good, but I don't think anyone saw him being this good this soon. The versatile big man is currently contributing 21.5 ppg, 12 rpg and even chipping in 3 dimes. Since his 44 point coming out party against the Knicks, Griffin has run off 20 straight double doubles. The scary thing is he's still getting better. His numbers for December; 23ppg, 13.5rpg and 4apg. He's even added in a reliable mid range jumper. He's the runaway ROY at this point.

Before suffering from knee tendinitis Wall and Griffin were dueling for the top rookie spot. But injuries have caused JW11 to miss a bunch of games and limited when he has been on the court lately. Still, he's putting up over 15 and 8 dimes per which isn't too shabby for a rookie PG. His jumper has been shaky but there are signs that it will improve and with Arenas now shipped off to Orlando Wall will have more room to isolate his defender and utilize his superior speed. If he can stay on the court and off of the trainer's table.

If you're saying to yourself "Who?", you aren't the only one. Fields, a 6'7 swingman out of Stanford, has started every game at shooting guard for the much improved Knicks. He's currently 4th in rookie scoring (10.3) and leads all NBA guards in rebounding (7.5). He doesn't do much that will make you say WOW but he's been very solid all around. Not bad for a 2nd round pick.

4. Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves
Though you may not hear much about him, Johnson has quietly put together a decent start to his NBA career. He's averaging close to double figures while shooting very well from the perimeter (.459 overall, .397 from the 3). He may struggle for minutes in the near future with the return of swingman Martell Webster but the versatile Johnson can also play the SF position in a pinch. And if you haven't caught any of his highlights, here is a sample. Minnesota may have a nice nucleus in the works if they can settle on a PG.

I had Favors ranked in my bottle 5 before the season, mainly due to his young age and the spot where he was drafted (#3 overall). So far when he has been on the court he has proven me wrong. Though only getting 19 minutes of burn a game Favors has chipped in close to 7ppg and 5rpg and a couple double doubles. He has legit size for an NBA power forward and has shown flashes but until he can sustain his energy level on a more consistent basis he will continue to struggle for minutes.

Bottom 5 (based on draft position, expectations & productivity)

Being picked 2nd overall brings a lot of expectations, but Turner hasn't done much when on the floor to live up to them. He has struggled with his shooting so far and teams are sagging off of him and daring him to take long range jumpers. In Turner's defense he has been solid on the glass (4.4rpg) but the play making ability that was flashed during his 3 seasons at Ohio St. has yet to translate to the NBA. He did have a nice 23 point effort last night while starting at the 3 for Andre Iguodala but in contrast the performance was against one of the worst defenses in the league. Hopefully it will build his confidence and bring forth more solid performances.

4. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Cousins entered the NBA with question marks regarding his bad attitude and a label as a hot head. So far he has done nothing but transform those question marks into bold exclamation points. Cousins has been suspended by his team, thrown out of practice and displayed horrible body language on the court. And to be 6'11 and close to 300lbs, he's had a little trouble finishing in the paint. Will all that said, Cousins has a TON of talent and is still managing to put up 11 and 8 a night. If he can shake his maturity issues he still has a chance to develop into a very good NBA center in a short period of time. But that is a very big IF.

3. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
Monroe is another top 10 pick who has struggled to get minutes early in the season. Which is baffling because the Pistons don't have much depth at the center position. Monroe did get a few starts in early December but was quickly sent back to a reserve role. Monroe hasn't been much of a scorer but he has contributed 5 rebounds in less than 20 minutes per game which isn't bad. But outside of that he hasn't done much else.

Take away last night's 17-point explosion against the Clippers and Hayward has been absolutely non-existent this season. He started the season as a big part of the Jazz's rotation but has seen his minutes cut to few and far between. The shooting stroke that everyone was so high on entering the season hasn't been there for Hayward and he has looked timid when given the opportunity to shoot. He's still young and coming from a mid-major program so he  may still be the adjusting to the jump in competition, but so far his play has left much to be desired from the 9th pick in the draft.

1. Daniel Orton, Orlando Magic
Congratulations go out to Orton for holding down this spot for the 2nd time. Gotta love that consistency. I really don't have much else to write about Orton as he has yet to play a single minute in the NBA, and only played parts of 2 games in the D-League as he re-injured his left knee. Orton definitely owes his agent a raise as they pulled a fast one by getting him drafted in the first round.


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