So, as you all may or may not have noticed, our rookies this year aren't just rookies.
They're better than half the vets, and have a tremendous upside.
All of them. Big(Hasheem Thabeet) and small(Patrick Mills).
So, how would you grade the rooks this season?
I think I've seen each of enough rook to grade them and talk about their futures in this league and how they can maximize their potential.
I had to make it the top 6, just because I don't like rounded numbers.
Stephen Curry: A+
I gave him an A+ simply because he made history. According to ESPN writer Bill Simmons, Curry is the first ever rook to average 17, 6 and shoot 40% from deep and 85% from the line, and it's not even close. Curry was arguable the most emotionally challenged rook, because with half a team, a worn-out, old coach, and a horrible organization, he demanded out of himself that he improve month after month, and in the end led golden state to their first winning month in over a year.
Concerns: Will Curry be able to mesh with his team when he gets back? Will he be able to lead his squad to a winning month, every month next year? Hopefully, the addition of a significant draft pick will help him. Can he continue to develop his body? Concerns about his low level of physicality were brought to question on draft night, but no longer arise. His upside has been questioned, but with a work ethic like his, it seems any development is possible. Will Curry be a more dynamic playmaker, a al Nash, and/or will he be able to balance that with his scoring.
Tyreke Evans: A+
Not many rooks have set the records this guy has. A+, hands down. Not only is he great at getting to the rack, but he demands serious attention. Teams sturggle to guard him and he is a nightmare matchup. He is one of only four rooks in NBA history to average 20ppg, 5rpg, and 5apg. While their has been some controversy as to whether he is as good as those past, he deserves to be in the argument.
Concerns: He really does not have a feel to pass the ball. He can pass, and passes well, but has yet to be able to pass and shoot simultaniously, like that of a point guard. Being the Kings' main offensive threat, I don't blame him for putting his hardhat on and going to the rim. What I would criticize him for, though is that not many of the Kings' players tend to touch the ball a lot. While Evans is an offensive powerhouse, the most efficient play you can run for him is an iso, and let the others stand and watch. While he is only 20, he has a lot of his game to work on. Another concern: Just because Evans does develop a shot does not mean he'll be able to use it effectively. He could end up like Shaq, he could end up like Wade in terms of jump-shooting. However, it is up to him how to become more effective offensively and to harness his mid-range game. Evans could be dangerous if he does this.
Jennings, the 'other rook' in the Rookie of the Year race, quarterbacked a 8th or out seed Bucks team to a near homecourt advantage. He is a tremendous scorer and really loves the game. He loves to pass, and led all rooks in APG until Curry and Evans caught up. I dub him the most mature rook, simply because of the success he attained in his rookie year and this quote, "Who cares about the rookie of the year race [...] Both their teams suck." Indeed, the Kings and Warriors have major rebuilding to do, and Jennings makes them look like kids.
Concerns: Even with Brandon being aggresive and going on a scoring tear every now and then, he still needs to take a page out of the book of Curry and watch how Curry scorer and passes simultaneously because of his reading of the defense. Curry is one of the best and taking what the defense gives him, and Brandon needs to watch that. Too many times, Brandon tries to play out of position and score relentlessly and forget to quarterback the team. If he can harness what Curry has, he can become a tremendous player.
Ty Lawson: A
Lawson is the backup point guard for a veteran and NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups. I think he has done a great job and has provided some of the most significant minutes for Denver this year. Billups may as well retire now, because Lawson is very ready in my opinion. I don't think size for him has ever been the issue, and I think he has proved a lot of us wrong.
Concerns: How exactly will Lawson take in being a starter? While he has shot an incredible % from deep, he has also not really been a huge playmaker. With Billups on the brink of retirement, Lawson will have to take the reigns and will need to develop into a guy that can run a team like Denver and control the momentum the way Chauncey can.
Marcus Thornton: A
Like most third-string rookies, Marcus was a very low pick. The only thing: Marcus wasn't a third string player. He ended up being one of the most complete players in the draft, and the type of guy that most emulates Jason Terry. He provides very significant production off the bench, and in a way, is more valuable to the team than Darren Collison is. It seems that almost game after game, Thornton would be breaking Dell Curry's records off the bench. And we here at GSoM know that Dell Curry ain't no scrub.
Concerns: He really doesn't have an upside and isn't known as a major glue/chemistry guy. He hasn't really played much with Paul and they havent developed much chemistry toghether. I really think we may see Collison being shipped out soon for a big piece, but Thornton will definitely be a keeper. That is, unless NOH can play with a smaller backcourt.
Darren Collison: A
Being the backup to Chris Paul and playing games that actually matter all season long is very different from playing garbage games and havin jaw-dropping games or averaging 20-5-5. It means you have to carry a team, without it's franchise talent, and push youself to win games. In your rookie year. Cheers to Darren Collison, virtually the only rookie that average an unbelievable 20ppg and 10apg throughout the month of March and was able to consistently keep the Hornets afloat (okay, maybe not afloat, but you get my point...).
Concerns: It's great if you average 10apg. No great, at all if you average a league-leading 4.8TOpg in the same strech. Ouch. Collison is going to have to stop turning the ball over and become more comfortable with the ball in his hands. However, that being said, he will ironically have to learn to play off the ball. His incredible success has earned him a spot in the starting lineup next to the perennial All-star and superstar, Chris Paul. However, he is going to have to learn to play w/o the ball, like Curry.
Johnny Flynn: B+
Flynn, in college was a great talent and many predicted him to be the best point guard in this draft. While that may have been off, Flynn has a great future in this league. While he has yet to gain the respect of the T'Wolves fans, many other players respect him and realize his talent is immense.
Concerns: Jonny plays a very erratic game, and he forces things too much. He needs to learn to keep his head, and like Jennings, take a page out of the book of Curry. While Flynn is a very agressive scorer, he needs to learn to take what the defense gives him instead of making up his mind and forcing one play. David Thorpe lit the torch and threw it in the barn when he said 'Johnny will make a great 6th man'.
While many people talk about Evans and Curry, many others seem not to focus on Roddy Buckets. This young international sensation led all rookies in PER. He is the most efficient scorer and shoots a jaw-dropping .60+ TS%.
He has the potential to be a very, very good professional in this league and will probably end up being the most efficient shooter in the draft.
Concerns: He is a tweener. While people were concerned about his shooting, as he needed to work on his shot, whatever worked on Jason Kidd seems to have also worked on Beaubois. His shooting is off-the-charts.
The one major concern I would have is his playmaking ability. If he develops the ability to make plays for others with the assests he has now, he can become a very, very good basketball player.
J. Jeberko, C. Budinger, R. Williams, M. Thornton, D. Collison, T. Gibson, W. Matthews, O. Casspi, J. Holiday, J. Harden, D. Blair.
By the way, an interesting fact, Blair average 16 rpg per 48.