Top NBA rookies so far this season

Blogged under Basketball,Front Page,General by Andrew on Thursday 10 December 2009 at 11:33 pm

This year’s rookie class has been pretty strong, especially at the guard position.  Most people know about Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans, as they are already playing like NBA vets, but there are a lot of rookies out there playing well that you may not know about.  Here are my rankings with a little description on what they have been doing well, what they need to improve on, and what NBA player they remind me of.

1)  Tyreke Evans, 6’6″ 220 lbs G, Sacramento Kings – 20.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 46% FG, 26% 3pFG, 77% FT, 36.1MPG

Reminds me of:   Rodney Stuckey (but bigger and better)

I almost went with Brandon Jennings at the number one spot, but Evans has been playing great as of late and Jennings has been struggling with his shot.  Evans has been living up to all the hype and with Kevin Martin out for the Kings, Evans has been the Kings go-to-guy.  The size and speed of the NBA has not deterred Evans, who has a great combination of size, strength, and athleticism and can do more than just score the ball.  Even though he is young, Evans’ size and strength seem to have pretty much peaked, meaning his progression might be limited.  He definitely needs to improve his outside shot, as he has yet to add an effective three point shot to his game.  He will need that outside shot as he gets older and his athleticism dwindles, but that athleticism will likely be around for a while as he is only 20 years old.

2)  Brandon Jennings, 6’1″ 170 lbs G, Milwaukee Bucks – 21.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 42% FG, 44% 3pFG, 80% FT, 35.4 MPG

Reminds me of:  Allen Iverson (Not nearly as good, but a better point guard)

Brandon Jennings is my favorite rookie to watch, as he has a sweet stroke, is explosive off the dribble, and can dish it with ease.  Jennings broke on to the scene ready to prove the critics wrong and scored 55 points in only his 7th career NBA game.  He has been inconsistent as of late, and I wanted to put him at number one, but he has shot him self out of the top spot.  In the last 10 games Jennings FG% has plummeted, and it seems as Jennings’ shot goes, so go the Bucks.  Still, Jennings has played far beyond expectations coming into this season and seemed to take it personally that so many guards were taken before him in the draft.  Jennings big weakness is his size, so his numbers may drop as the marathon of an NBA rookie season goes on, but I only see Jennings getting better as he gets stronger and his career progresses.

3)  Jonny Flynn, 6’0″ 185 lbs G, Minnesota Timberwolves – 14.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 44% FG, 33% 3pFG, 81% FT, 29.6 MPG

Reminds me of:  Damon Stoudemire (but stronger)

Johnny Flynn may not have much size, but he has plenty of heart and determination, something he proved in college.  Flynn has not let the size of the NBA slow him down, as he still likes to attack the heart of the defense and finishes at the rim.  He is very strong for his size, and I’m looking forward to watching him progress.  I really like this guys game and I think he will be a very good guard in this league for a while.

4)  Ty Lawson, 5’11” 185 lbs G, Denver Nuggets - 8.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 51% FG, 50% 3pFG, 79% FT, 21.3 MPG

Reminds me of:  Steve Francis (smaller, but not as selfish)

Ty Lawson’s size was supposed to keep him from doing the things he did well in college, but it hasn’t.  Lawson still gets to the paint at will, and although he is short he is a lot stronger than most NBA point guards.  His three point shooting has been a big surprise as well, but he does need to improve defensively as he is too quick to get beat off the dribble.  Lawson’s end to end speed is still amazing to me, and with the strength he has he will be able to stick around in this league for a while.

5)  Stephen Curry, 6’3″ 185 lbs G, Golden State Warriors - 11.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 45% FG, 37% 3pFG, 80% FT, 31.8 MPG

Reminds me of:  Mike Bibby

Stephen Curry may never be the scorer he was as a collegiate player, but Curry has proven he can play in this league.  He has made the switch to point guard well, but he still uses his deadly touch to help with the Warriors scoring load.  Curry doesn’t have explosive quickness, but he is very smooth with the ball and can embarrass defenders at times.  He still needs to get stronger, but Curry is stronger than he looks.  Curry will continue to get better and will be a good player in this league for years to come.

6)  James Harden, 6’5″ 220 lbs G, Oklahoma City Thunder – 9.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 41% FG, 38% 3pFG, 83% FT, 21.1 MPG

Reminds me of:  Raja Bell (Doesn’t shoot as well, but better all-around player)

A very strong guard who has a good feel for the game.  Harden is not very explosive, but he uses his strength and knowledge well and has no problem finishing at the rim.  Harden has a high basketball IQ and is a very good defender.  His teammates love to play with him.  His outside shot needs work though, as his jumper has been streaky this year.

7)  Omri Casspi, 6’9″ 225 lbs F, Sacramento Kings – 10.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 53% FG, 51% 3pFG, 48% FT, 23.9 MPG

Reminds me of:  Andrea Bargnani (smaller, but more athletic)

Omri Casspi, who is a native of Israel, has been a pleasant surprise for the Kings.  You often don’t know what you are going to get of out of European players and how their game will carry over to the much more physical NBA.  Casspi has been more than impressive, especially shooting the ball.  He leads all rookies in three-point field goal percentage.  Casspi is surprisingly athletic too, but he obviously needs to get much stronger, where he could then develop a better post up game.

8)  Darren Collison, 6’0″ 160 lbs G, New Orleans Hornets – 9.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 43% FG, 39% 3pFG, 91% FT, 21.6 MPG

Reminds me of:  Tony Parker

Darren Collison has shown flashes of greatness at times this season, and is one of quickest guards out there.  Collison is doing much better than expected and has shown he is ready to lead a team right now at point guard.  Unfortunately for Collison, he is on the same team as Chris Paul, so he won’t be the starter in New Orleans anytime soon.  He did do a great job when CP3 was out for nine games, where he averaged 15.2 ppg, 5.6 apg and 3.1 rpg, but he doesn’t get a ton of playing time with CP3 in the lineup.

9)  Taj Gibson, 6’9″ 225 lbs F, Chicago Bulls – 8.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 1.0 BPG, 50% FG, 47% FT, 24.6 MPG

Reminds me of:  Joe Smith

Taj Gibson has been one of the few bright spots for the Bulls disappointing season so far.  With Tyrus Thomas out, Gibson has filled in very nicely.  He has a great understanding of the game, especially on defensive rotations.  His face-up jump shot has been a nice surprise, as his 15-18 foot jumper now has to be respected by defenses.  Gibson needs to put some more muscle on his wiry frame, but it looks like the Bulls have a solid forward for many seasons to come.

10)  Jonas Jerebko, 6’10” 231lbs F, Detroit Pistons – 7.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.5 SPG, 49% FG, 32% 3pFG, 65% FT, 26.9 MPG

Reminds me of:  Andres Nocioni (more athletic)

Jonas Jerebko’s hustle has won over the Detroit fans, and it has earned the Swede the starting spot and more minutes as of late.  Jerebko’s energy is his biggest strength, but he has a good all-around floor game and is athletic.  He is 6’10” though, and he doesn’t really have a post game, something the Pistons would like to see him develop.

11)  DeMar DeRozan, 6’7″ 220 lbs G, Toronto Raptors – 8.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, O.5 SPG, 45% FG, 33% 3pFG, 80% FT, 19.8 MPG

Reminds me of:  Jason Richardson (mainly just the leaping ability, needs to develop a lot of his game to be as good as JRich)

DeMar DeRozan just misses my top 10, but he is a supreme athlete and has been putting that athleticism to use this year for the Raptors.  His jump shot is streaky at best, so he needs to develop his outside game more.  DeRozan is a high-flyer though, and he may be one of the reasons why LeBron James may be backing out of his promise last year to compete in this years Dunk Contest.

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