2009 - 2010 Early Rookie Awards
Yes, it’s early. Months away from having actual games to watch, my mind begins to wander. This, my friends, is what the off-season is for.
Sure, it’s important to get a trade or a free agent signing in...There’s that draft thing that we should probably pay attention to. But really...it’s a time to predict. To guess, because that's all we are ever doing. It's a guess. And this is a good thing, because if we already knew, actually watching the games would be a bit boring right?
But anyway, back to the original point. What follows are my personal awards that I think rookies could earn over the course of the upcoming season. We'll have the usual ones. Who will average 20 points a game etc, but also some slightly different ones. As always, let your voice be heard.
And so the rookie most likely to....
Lead all rookies in scoring:
Tyreke Evans: I hear you Clippers fans, Blake Griffin will be amazing yes, and could easily average 20 a game. But Evans is going to be on a team with basically only one other scorer on. He is a pure scoring machine and will have an ultimate green light...because lets face it, that team has nothing to lose. Having said that...his perimeter game could use a lot of work and every team will know who the man on this Kings team is.
Get the most negative headlines:
Brandon Jennings: I'm not saying Jennings is going to do anything...but he is already known as a controversial figure, and the media is going to be focused tightly on him. Anything he does will be scrutinised more than most rookies due to his big name. He is known to speak his mind (which I am all in favour of) but it can easily be taken the wrong way. A lot of buzz will surround Jennings this year...and this is in Milwaukee, imagine if he was in New York.
See more pine than hardwood for no decent reason:
Gerald Henderson: The Blue Devil is certainly talented, but will he see much time on the court with Larry Brown running the show? Maybe, but he could also disappear into the bottom of the bench. Wouldn't be the first time Brown chooses to keep the young guys keen would it? Besides...don't expect MJ and LB, two Tarheels, to be in a rush to help a Blue Devil.
Lead Rookies in rebounding:
Blake Griffin: I nearly went with Jordan Hill for this. The man can definitely rebound and shots will go up quickly in New York...but the same will happen for one of the L.A teams, and they'll probably miss more, and Griffin will have more minutes so....his shoulder should be fully healed, and if we learned anything from summer league, its that Griffin wants every board to be his.
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Do the most but not get credit for it:
Let me explain what I mean: The winner of this category shall not save a franchise or be a major R.O.Y candidate, but he will work incredibly hard, do a lot of little things and generally just help his team win while not being lauded as one of the top rookies by casual fans.
James Harden/Tyler Hansborough:
I couldn't pick between the two. I am a huge fan of both of their games. Harden has a very high basketball I.Q and the skill to use it. He will provide a lot of positives for the Thunder, in the same way that Jeff Green does now. Of course, understandably, Kevin Durant shall steal most of the spot light for the Thunder as they most likely will improve and grow as a group over another season together.
For Hansborough, the Pacers most likely won't do much more than contend for a playoff spot and fall short. So while they wallow near the bottom of a much improved Eastern Conference, nobody will look too hard at a rookie who has very little style or flash. Yet to me, he is a very exciting player. I loved watching him as a Tarheel just going after every board (and normally getting it) and just doing anything he can to improve his team's chances of winning. (the image of him with a nose busted wide open shows his dedication) Hansborough will continue to do this for the Pacers. Diving for loose balls, and tapping rebounds to teammates all season.
Be labelled a bust almost immediately:
Hasheem Thabeet: Thabeet did himself no favours during summer league. The worries of him having little offensive game seemed confirmed. Of course, he is a project, and the Grizzlies would be foolish for him to show his true colours straight away, but it is very likely that Thabeet will have an underwhelming rookie season for a number two pick. He will grab rebounds, and will certainly frighten off some guards coming into the paint...but that's all we can expect, for now at least.
Lead all Rookies in assists:
This was easily the hardest category. For a draft filled with point guards...how can I choose which one will lead the rookies in dimes? First I want to say Jonny Flynn...Brandon Jennings is a high candidate...but I have to go with something else...pure opportunity...
Jrue Holiday: With Andre Miller's departure to Portland, Jrue Holiday is basically the only point guard that the Sixers have. It has been said many times in the last two years that these Sixers are at their best when playing the running game. In the running game, the general idea is to get the ball to the point guard, run down the floor, and dish it off to someone to score (see Suns, Phoenix 04-06). If Holiday is the only point guard on a running team...he'll have a lot of opportunity to dish right? Well, maybe.
Come out of nowhere and become a big name:
I don't mean the biggest steal here...I mean guy who most didn't recognise by name but who they will be end of the season.
Austin Daye: He has impressed many, and has raised heads since being drafted 15th by the Pistons, and I think he could continue to do so throughout the season, he could easily be Tayshaun Prince's replacement one day.
Be the biggest steal:
Chase Budinger/ DuJuan Blair: Again, its too hard to pick just one. I simply cannot believe either of these two fell into the second round. Budinger is a great scorer who may not be the best athlete, but is in no means lacking in that area. He puts great effort on the court and will be helpful on an incredibly undermanned Rockets team. Blair may have had concerns over his ankles and weight, but he is another hard worked who can crash the boards and give up some scoring inside.
Win rookie of the year:
Blake Griffin: I don't think it'll be as much of a landslide as most have already deemed it. He will have a lot of big competition, but Griffin will be given the green light, and playing in a huge city. If he can finally get the Clippers to even look like less of a shambles then expect some land to start sliding.
Do you disagree with my picks? Have you got much better categories? Show me below, enjoy
By Joe Buckley
Pro-Basketball Fans staff-writer
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