Sizing up the Rookie of the Year

Following on from my previous post about who’s in with a shot of being named MVP, I’ve decided that the rookie of the year award also deserves some blog space. Even by browsing through this summer’s draft, there are a host of first season guys entering the league who will, from day one, start and make their respective teams better. Before I get into who I think will be in with a shot of winning the award, here are my requirements for all candidates.

1.      Be a starter, goes without saying really

2.      Improve your team’s fortunes from the previous season

3.      Have at least 2-5 games this season where people are going to come away saying, “My God, he’s going to be an absolute star in three years time”

4.      Be the best player at your position of all rookies

As with the MVP column, we’re going to take a look at the past decade’s winners to use as comparison and to compare requirements also.

2000/2001 – Mike Miller – only rookie to play in all 82 games, shot 40% from three, averaged 12 points per game, to be fair though that Draft sucked

2001/2002 – Pau Gasol – 82 games played, 17 points and 9 boards through the season,

2002/2003 – Amare Stoudemire – 82 games played, 13 points 9 boards through the season, first prep-to-pro ever to win ROY,

2003/2004 – LeBron James – 79 games played, 20 points, 5 boards 5 assists average, improved win total by 18 for team, youngest player to ever score 40 in a game during his rookie season

2004/2005 – Emeka Okafor – 73 games played, 19 straight double-doubles, 15 points 11 boards through the season

2005/2006 – Chris Paul – 16 points, 8 assists and 5 boards through the season, led all rookies in points, assists, steals and minutes, won rookie of the month every month in the West

2006/2007 – Brandon Roy – 17 points, 4 boards and 4 assists through the season, got 127 out of 128 first place votes, played in only 57 games

2007/2008 – Kevin Durant – 80 games played, 20 points per game average, highest scoring rookie in franchise history

2008/2009 – Derrick Rose – 81 games played, led all rookies in assists per game, 17 points per game average, equalled Kareem’s record for most points in a playoff game by a rookie with 36, second player in NBA history to register at least 35 and 10 on playoff debut, joining Chris Paul on that very short list

2009/2010 - Tyreke Evans – 72 games played, won MVP of Rookie All Star game and shared it with DeJuan Blair, outscored the Bulls on his own in the fourth quarter in a game where the Kings rallied from 35 down, joined the Oscar-Jordan-James rookie club by averaging 20-5-5

Now I’ll be the first to admit that some of those guys didn’t even reach my criteria, for instance, Durant’s SuperSonics won only 20 games his debut season. Mike Miller never had those “Wow” games, and Gasol also failed to improve his teams record.  Out of all those guys, perhaps only Okafor remains the only iffy selection, unless you’re a Steph Curry lover or Ron Boone, the former Jazz analyst who was the only guy not to vote Chris Paul ROY, instead choosing Deron Williams. This year there are six guys who will lead the way in search for winning Rookie of the Year, and without further hesitation here they are.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers.

Pros; monster on the boards with serious low post moves, should be given plenty of touches offensively for the Clippers, extremely gifted athlete with very good hands

Cons; it’s the Clippers, how healthy is his knee, will Baron Davis facilitate the rookie who is the face of the franchise?

John Wall, Washington Wizards.

Pros; unstoppable in the open court, incredible speed/athleticism, cannot be stopped going to the rim where he’s a good finisher, should average over 35 minutes a game so will have lots of time to show his talent, could be an elite on ball defender

Cons; Gilbert Arenas, turnover prone when playing recklessly, questionable shooting, expectation will be enormous

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacaramento Kings.

Pros; very skilled for a rookie big man, monster rebounder, good touch, can move well is on a team where option one down low is always going to be him

Cons; possible headcase/lunatic in the making, needs to learn to control his emotions, how will he handle not being the biggest guy on the floor compared to college where he could bully his opponent

Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers.

Pros; extremely polished, great decision maker, versatile in that he can slot in comfortably at three positions, big game player

Cons; Andre Iguodala, not exactly the most explosive guy you’ll come across in the backcourt, shooting could do with some improvement

Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves.

Pros; shoots the three well, very skilled, freak athlete, will get a lot of looks for Minny from day one, serious potential as a defender

Cons; he’s already 46 years old, not the biggest or strongest guy around, plays for the Timberwolves, how much better will he get?

Derrick Favors, New Jersey Nets.

Pros; great rebounder, serious athleticism that sets him apart, string finisher, shot-blocking machine, quickness for his spot, upside is huge

Cons; jump shot, very raw offensively when forced to put the ball on the floor in college, the new Shaq with regards to free throws

So there you have it – my six guys in with what I consider the best chance to win ROY. Being honest, there aren’t many other guys out there who will be good enough to challenge, nor in a situation as favourable as the guys above. Gordon Hayward’s best shot is if they allow all teenage girls in Salt Lake to vote on the winner, although he is fixing to be pretty good this year. Other rookies worth monitoring;

Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

Ed Davis, Toronto Raptors

Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Willie Warren, Los Angeles Clippers

Jarvis Varnado, Miami Heat

Daniel Orton, Orlando Magic

James Anderson, San Antonio Spurs

Thoughts on Melo

So Carmelo Anthony has apparently but the brakes on a new deal with the Nuggets, and rumours circulating is that he won’t sign one anytime soon. Now, what do you do if you’re Denver? Do you keep him; hope for one more great season and a bit of good luck leading to success thus showing Anthony he’s at a place where he can win? Or do you call him out, see what his intentions are and react on that? For instance, if he gave the impression he was leaving, do you then try engineer a trade to get something in return? Do you phone Portland and ask them what they can offer? You could try tempt Houston into giving you a few of their guys. Or hit up some other team willing to give you assets in exchange for a one-year fling with a premier NBA talent? One thing’s for sure; Anthony has a huge year ahead of him. With the new CBA coming in, him making Joe Johnson type money may not happen. I personally feel that he knows he has no future in Denver, so he should do the right thing and ask to be traded, so Denver in fact get something back rather than losing him for nothing in 12 months time. Plenty of teams will offer the Nuggets what they want – young players, draft picks – for Anthony’s services. Ultimately he’ll end up in New York and form the deadliest scoring forward line in the NBA with Amare, but right now he needs to sit down and sort this mess out with the organisation, before things turn ugly.

Before I Go…

Check this out. Y’all remember how Scarface ended right? He had nobody left to back him up because everyone turned on him, or died, due to him double-crossing guys left right and centre, stepping on toes and not giving a crap. Well, here’s hoping those three fizzle out and end up being overturned by the others out there. Just not as violently as poor old Tony was, of course…

Contact me on dol-17@hotmail.com for the Stepien Rules mailbag, Twitter @DOL17 or Facebook. 

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