by Eldon Khorshidi / @eldonadam
Week 14 (Jan. 27 – Feb. 3)
At worst, this week ranks in the top-5 in terms of overall rookie performance. Rookies across the league, in the East and West, on both contending and lottery teams, made lots of noise.
The usual suspects continued to violate, but this week also showcased many players who are ‘on the cusp’ in terms of whether or not they can be legitimate pros. There’s no doubt some of these performances were aberrations, but I’m almost certain there’s a diamond in the rough somewhere, we just haven’t found it yet.
Season: 23 ppg, 12.7 rpg
Week 14: 29.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg
Griffin locked up Rookie of the Year honors a few months back, but became a certified All-Star yesterday.
Beating out the likes of Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Lamar Odom, the Western Conference coaches made a bold move in catapulting this super-rookie into a borderline superstar, only 48 games into his career.
If you’re not sold on Griffin being an all-star, first you must throw away any mental associations with his rookie status. That shouldn’t set the bar any higher or lower for an an all-star bid.
Secondly, and most importantly, just look at his stats. He’s fourth in the league in rebounding, 12th in scoring, and has the second highest field-goal percentage among the top-ten field goals made leaders. Blake continues to score and rebound consistently, all while being efficient. He’s been a monster, imposing his will on veterans since day one. As a rookie, he’s been the predator, not the prey.
I think Griffin easily beats out Odom, but if Aldridge or KLove were selected, I’d have no qualms or reservations. In a conference as deep as the West, it’s inevitable for a few All-Star caliber players to be left out. But being left out doesn’t always equate to being snubbed, something most people fail to realize.
This week, BG had three spectacular outings. In last Monday’s win over Milwaukee, he simply abused Andrew Bogut to the tune of 32 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists, all while shooting 65 percent.
Next up was a showdown with another budding superstar, Derrick Rose. And Blake was, um, Blake. 32 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists. The Clippers lost, but were riding a nine-game home winning streak. When’s the last time you the said the Clippers won nine in a row at home? I can’t remember either.
Season: 14.7 ppg, 9.3 apg, 1.8 spg
Week 14: 12 ppg, 8.8 apg, 1.3 spg
Wall faced three of the best point guards in the League this week, and faired decently.
Jonathan and the Wizards lost in double overtime at Oklahoma City last Friday, where he matched-up with Russell Westbrook. Russ Wess exploded for 35, 13, and 13, but despite a poor shooting night, Wall had a good game: 13 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, and no turnovers.
Three nights later, Wall faced Jason Kidd and the Mavericks. In an expected road defeat, the rookie had 17 points and 10 assists. Obviously Wall had a speed advantage on Kidd, but it’s impressive to see him put up numbers on such an experienced and savvy point guard who can expose young players.
His third outing was no cake walk either. Facing Chris Paul and the Hornets, Wall struggled, finishing with four points (2-10), seven assists, and six rebounds.
It’s all good though. In order for Wall to develop as a player, he needs games like these, when he struggles against the Association’s best. Give him some time, he’ll get there.
Season: 13.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.8 apg
Week 14: 24 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.7 apg
Cousins has been a beast in January, averaging 17 points, roughly eight rebounds, one block, and one steal. It’s time we give DeMarcus his due credit. He’s a 6-11 giant piece of flesh who’s an immovable object in the painted area.
Cousins started his week with a 27 point, 10 rebound performance in a road victory vs. the Lakers. He also helped contain Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to a combined 19 points and 15 rebounds.
The next night, Cousins was back at it, as he dropped 25 points, grabbed 12 boards and had seven dimes in a home win vs. the Hornets. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Cousins became the first Kings rookie in 20 years to reach each of those statistical levels in one game. That had last been done by Lionel Simmons, who produced 33 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists in a win against the Clippers in 1991. The big man from Kentucky is climbing all rookie ladders, and could be at No. 2 by season’s end.
– T-Wolves rookie Wesley Johnson put together a strong week, averaging 12.5 points, including a 19 point performance at Utah last Friday. Due to his age (23), critics say he’s near his ceiling. I haven’t watched enough tape of him this year to make a valued judgement, but his somewhat consistent scoring habit tells me there’s some untapped potential there.
– Speaking of ceiling, experts have also said the same about Landry Fields, claiming he’ll be one hell of a role player for years to come.
Fields had 19 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in New York’s win over Miami last Thursday. He’s the first Knicks rookie to register at least 13 rebounds and six assists in a game since Clyde Frazier posted 15 rebounds and 15 assists in 1968. Is Fields merely a role player in this league?
– Cavaliers guard Manny Harris averaged roughly 20 points per game this week (excluding the one game he played only eight minutes), having games of 20, ,20, and 19. Harris has been impressing of late and turning heads around the NBA, including that of former Cavalier LeBron James. He’s certainly been worthy of the $473, 604 that he’s earning this season.
– Greg Monroe had 15 points and 17 rebounds (8 offensive) earlier this week in a loss to New York. In three games this week, Monroe shot 70 percent from the field. Although it’s a little early, it’s not far-fetched to assume the Warriors are already regretting choosing Ekpe Udoh.
-Wizards rookie Trevor Booker had 21 points (9-11) and 12 rebounds in the double overtime thriller at OKC. Booker showed flashes of what he did at Clemson, and proved he can do work when facing an undersized frontline.
That’s it for now. Have a great weekend everyone, one love.
Highlights of the week: