By: David Kay
With the first overall pick, Blake Griffin still sidelined, the battle for the NBA Rookie of the Year award is becoming a two horse race. Every week, David Kay breaks down the top rookies in the association. Check out his latest rankings.
1. Brandon Jennings, Bucks (Last Week Ranking: #1)
’09-’10: 21.2 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.1 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg
It is almost unfair how big numbers are expected of Jennings every night after an amazing start to his rookie season. He scores 24 points on a certain night and it is practically overlooked. Not here though as Jennings remains the leader of the Rookie of the Year Race despite a steady decline in his shooting percentage.
2. Tyreke Evans, Kings (LWR: #2)
’09-’10: 20.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.5 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 17.0 ppg, 5 rpg, 6 apg, 2 spg
Evans continues to shrink Jennings’ lead as the weeks go on due to his all-around effectiveness. How is this for elite company?… Evans joins LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as the only players in the NBA to be averaging at least 20 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists a night.
3. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves (LWR: #3)
’09-’10: 14.1 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1.1 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 15 ppg, 7 apg, 1.75 spg
Flynn has done a nice job of reducing his turnovers while improving his play-making abilities thus resulting in more assists (of course it helps to have Kevin Love back in the line-up.) His steady play has meant more minutes for Flynn and less playing time for Ramon Sessions.
4. Stephen Curry, Warriors (LWR: #4)
’09-’10: 11.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.3 rpg, 1.7 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 4 apg, 3 rpg
Curry finally topped the 20-point mark for the first time as a pro in a loss at Oklahoma City. He does have a 1-1 assist-to-turnover ratio which needs to improve if he is going to be a true NBA point guard.
5. Omri Casspi, Kings (LWR: #7)
’09-’10: 10.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
The Israeli rookie responded after missing a game with a back injury by scoring 20 points and grabbing 7 boards in a loss at San Antonio. Casspi is bringing energy and toughness off Sacramento’s bench and has exceeded most everybody’s expectations.
6. James Harden, Thunder (LWR: #8)
’09-’10: 9.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.6 apg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 10 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg
Harden remains in a groove with the young Thunder team. He scored 26 points and grabbed nine boards, both career-highs, in a win against the Warriors Monday night. Look for his numbers to steadily increase as he continues to earn more minutes.
7. Taj Gibson, Bulls (LWR: NR)
’09-’10: 8.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 5.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.8 bpg
After suffering through a bit of a lull in late-November, Gibson has seen rebounding and scoring numbers in double digits three out of five games this month. He was removed from the starting line-up two games ago, but continues to be valuable off the bench for a Bulls team that has lost eight of it’s last nine.
8. Darren Collison, Hornets (LWR: #5)
’09-’10: 9.8 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.1 rpg
My ‘09-’10 Prediction: 4 ppg, 1.5 apg, 1rpg
With Chris Paul back in the line-up, Darren Collison has lost his starting point guard spot and seen his playing time cut in half. Barring another injury to CP3, don’t expect to see the former Bruin ranked as high as his number five mark last week for the rest of the season.
9. Terrence Williams, Nets (LWR: #6)
’09-’10: 9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, .6 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 7 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2 spg
Note to rookies: don’t stay out late on a Monday night and miss your Tuesday morning shootaround. That will not help your standing with a new head coach. That is exactly what happened with T-Will which is not a good first impression on new Nets’ head coach Kiki Vandeweghe. Williams was benched and has not played in New Jersey’s last two games.
10. Ty Lawson, Nuggets (LWR: #9)
’09-’10: 8.5 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 rpg, .8 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 5.0 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1 spg
Lawson was held scoreless for the first time in his NBA career Thursday night against Denver but still managed to contribute with four assists and three boards. He remains effective in his role backing up Chancey Billups.
Honorable Mentions: Marcus Thornton (LWR: #10), Jonas Jerebko, Pistons (LWR: Sleeper), Chase Budinger, Rockets (LWR: HM), Tyler Hansbrough, Pacers (LWR: #10), Wesley Matthews, Jazz (LWR: HM), DeMar DeRozan, Raptors (LWR: HM)
Dropped out of the Top Ten: Marcus Thornton (LWR: #10)
Blake Griffin, Clippers (LWR: Inc.)
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 15 ppg, 7.5 rpg
The Clippers curse has officially struck. Griffin will be sidelined for the about the first six weeks of the season due to a broken left knee cap. His impact would have been felt immediately in the NBA because he is that gifted both physically and skill-wise. It will likely take him a while to hit full stride once he does return which means his averages might not be what they would have been if he was healthy all season long.
Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies (LWR: Project)
’09-’10: 2.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 5 ppg, 4 rpg, 1.5 bpg
Thabeet has found himself a steady role off the Griz bench though he is averaging more fouls than points per game. Still, he is doing what Memphis is asking of him; rebounding, blocking shots, and clogging up the middle on the defensive end.
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