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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 12:25 pm  |  51 responses

ROY Race: Quarter Report

The Top 10 candidates up for consideration.

by Earl K. Sneed

With one of the best rookie classes in recent memory, it is a privilege that I bring to you these Rookie Rankings. First and foremost, contrary to other rankings you may see across the wire, these “rooks” will be judged by their individual performances, as well as their team’s success. So, if you are a 20-point scorer on a 20-win team, like Kevin Durant was a season ago, you very likely could be docked from serious consideration come season’s end. Follow along now as we track the best that the ’08 class has to offer.

1. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Pros: The transition from college to the pros has been easier than expected for Rose, who is making a smooth transition from setup man to scorer, notching close to 18 points per. Rose also benefits from playing in a large market with lots of exposure. It also helps that his team is in contention for a playoff berth. One thing is true, the kid is running the team like he’s a vet, so it will take a strong doing for someone to supplant him as the Rookie of the Year.

Cons: Three things: 1) Chicago may be asking him to score too much, so his assist numbers may drop throughout the season, 2) The kid will be going against the game’s best at PG on a nightly basis, and he probably won’t be looking this good every night, and 3) With the early season success and the bright light exposure, people may be enamored with DRose’s game, but there’s that ever-looming “Rookie Wall.” He may not be phased, but a lot of young rookies slow down toward the season’s end.

2. O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies
Pros: Hands down, O.J. Mayo is the best scorer in this year’s class. This rook can get his shoot off from anywhere on the court and he knocks down a high percentage from the perimeter—about 41 percent Offensive bestfrom behind the arch. The kid is the truth offensively, and you know this because he walks into the League averaging 20 per like it’s nothing. Every GM, opposing players and coaches around the League say he has “a grown man’s game.” If he can sustain his numbers, or better yet elevate to 25 ppg for the second half of the season, he maybe the only legit challenger for ROY honors.

Cons: O.J. will receive a lot of hype around the League, like he has since junior high (thanks SLAM), but with him in Memphis there is no way his coverage will equal DRose. Not enough televised games, and far too little team wins to catch enough buzz around the League. The only thing that would help his candidacy is if he balls ridiculously and puts the team on his shoulders to make a playoff run. Everyone with me now (wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…Ha!).

3. Michael Beasley, Miami Heat
Pros: Beasley is having the typical rookie year. He’s decent in most categories but not great in any. Still, 13.6 points per outing is a nice debut, and if Shawn Marion gets moved then you have to figure B. Easy’s numbers will shoot up.

Cons: I hate to say it, but what Beasley was able to do last season at Kansas State will be in the back of everyone’s minds all season long. He dominated on the college level, and when he was taken at the No. 2 pick (over O.J. Mayo), you expected for him to do the same in the pros. The thing is, he’s about a foot shorter than everyone thought—I exaggerate—and he has fallen in love with his own outside jumper. Not to mention that if anyone is talking about the Heat, they’re probably talking about Wade.

4. D.J. Augustin, Charlotte Bobcats
Pros: Augustin probably won’t get a lot of pub, but he has stepped into the starting PG role at times this season and straight balled. Arguably the best natural point in this year’s class and a nice 3-point shooter, Augustin will be under the radar all season, but his Bobcat squad competes night-in and night-out and he’s a big reason why. If he brings his numbers up to around 15 points and 6 assists by the end of the season, he should receive strong consideration. Judging by his 29-point effort against the Bulls last week, he could be getting those numbers more regularly.

Cons: He’s coming off the bench for the Charlotte Bobcats, ‘nuff said!

5. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Pros: Westbrook is a very athletic point guard and an up and coming defender, making up for his poor shooting ability. He adjusted decently to playing the PG position full-time for the first time every in his life, at least enough to take the starting spot away from Earl Watson.

Cons: Aside from being a poor shooter, he also plays the point for the laughing stock of the League, a team that will more than likely challenge for the worst record in league history. Nothing against you Russ, but you probably won’t be able to overcome the record like your teammate K.D. did a season ago.

6. Rudy Fernandez, Portland Trail Blazers
Don't sleep on him. Pros: Meet the Spanish version of Manu Ginobili. This dude is that special, when he wants to be. He is fearless, with a better than average jumper and deceptive athleticism (just ask Dwight Howard).

Cons: Fernandez’s best problem is on his own team. Everyone expects so much out of Greg Oden that they aren’t ready to say that Rudy is actually the best rookie on the squad. Add to the fact that Brandon Roy has stepped his game up, meaning Fernandez will just be considered a really nice player until he explodes for routine 30-point games.

7. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Pros: Pau’s younger brother is making a name for himself. The big-bodied banger is a force in the middle of the paint, and he is offensively gifted enough to be an eventual 15-point, 10-rebound a night guy.

Cons: See O.J. Mayo’s cons and add in the fact that he plays with O.J. Mayo.

8. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
Pros: Chalmers is a very nice defender at the point position, already with a 9-steal game under his belt. He also shoots a decent percentage from deep.

Cons: He’s not even the best rookie on his team.

9. Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets
Pros: Lopez will be a servable big in the League for a long time to come. He has a nice finesse game, and he will eventually be bringing down 10 boards per game to go along with scoring double figures.

Cons: Even with him up in Jersey, he will be out of sight and out of mind, due to quiet numbers. If a big is going to win this award, they’re going to need off the charts type of numbers, and he will never have those types of stats.

10. Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings
Pros: Thompson looks like a nice building block for the future. He is a long and athletic big, who is still trying to figure it out, but his numbers indicate that he will fulfill his potential.

Cons: No one is paying much attention to the Kings, especially now that Reggie Theus is gone. Even if they were, he wouldn’t be doing enough to challenge for the top spots in ROY consideration.

Rookies on the fringe: Be it by standout games or consistency, these are players that could move into the Top 10 over the course of the season (order 11-15): Anthony Morrow (Golden State); Kevin Love (Minnesota); Greg Oden (Portland); Courtney Lee (Orlando); and Luc Mbah a Moute (Milwaukee).

Further consideration: Eric Gordon (L.A. Clippers); Anthony Randolph (Golden State); JaVale McGee (Washington); Brandon Rush (Indiana) and George Hill (San Antonio).

Right now, it looks like a 1-2 race between Rose and Mayo, with Rose having a slight lead. It’s a long season, so expect surges throughout the year.

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  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Earl, good stuff, but why factor in record? Many top rookies are drafted into poor franchises. You can’t expect a 20-year-old to elevate a 20-win team to the Playoffs.

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    Since when do the playoffs play any role in ROY? I am pretty sure Kevin Durant is the reigning ROY and umm the Sonics (Thunder) didn’t win jack ish. Good write up except I feel like OJ is the ROY and Beasley should be below Augustin.

  • WhaHuh

    I would actually place Beasley lower than this. He is struggling to score, rebound and defend. Behind Westbrook and Augustin.

  • WhaHuh

    Also Randolph shouldnt be in consideration. Nellie told his agent to look for a new team via trades. (but thats Nellie being Nellie)

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    Oh so there is this new rule that you can’t be in consideration for ROY jut because you “might” get traded, I wish I new about that sooner

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ Moose

    I’d put Augustin ahead of Beasley, but this was a great list, Earl. Nice work. I think that Mayo deserves the number one spot, but really, we don’t know. We’ll have to see as the season progresses.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Earl K. Sneed

    I logged on to SLAM last year and read a lot of peeps lobbying for AL Hordford over KD because the Hawks made the playoffs, now everyone has amnesia! lol

  • Ken

    I’d also put Augustin above Beasley, and I also agree that record shouldn’t matter at all. I also think that adding stats for the top 5 or so would be interesting/instructive.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    I’m all about considering individual play when it comes to the R.O.Y. That said, it’s most important to consider the situation, not necessarily how good the team is. If rookies are thrust onto a team where they’re a clear-cut no. 1 option, they most often will not be leading a team into the playoffs. If their team is going to the playoffs, they’re not usually the leader (Beasley). Again, situation should be a key consideration.

  • http://www.where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    I agree with the rankings but I’d just like to comment that the Miami Heat killed it in the draft this year. Damn.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Earl K. Sneed

    Records will only be coming into play if someone puts their team on their back and carries an otherwise sub-par team into the postseason…

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    Then how come Derrick Rose is above OJ Mayo? You said it helps that his team is in contention for a playoff berth

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    The Bulls have virtually the same team that made it to the playoffs 2 years ago. There playoff birth should not be attributed to Derrick Rose more then the change in coaching and the absence of Kobe drama. The grizzlies are winning more games then anyone expected and OJ is runnin the show (with help from a gay)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Earl K. Sneed

    Yes, if you go from having the No.1 overall pick to contending for a playoff spot and it is mainly because your starting rookie PG is averaging 18 and 6, it will definitely put you slightly ahead of the No. 2 guy who is averaging 20 per on a team that will be back in the lottery again next year….

  • http://www.slamonline.com Earl K. Sneed

    O.J. will have plenty of time to make his case for why he should jump DRose, and I’m counting on him doing so, but to say that he’s done so now would be ridiculous

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    They did not qualify for the Number 1 pick they were the 10 seed last season 2 spots short of the playoffs. They got a new coach and no drama they would be in contention in the east if they drafted Jason Thompson-would he be rookie of the year then? OJ and Co has memphis on pace to finish with 10 more wins then last year and the bulls are on pace to have a better record by 9 wins. So actually OJ has improved his team more then Rose.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Ryan will be along shortly to question the lack of Love on this list, but til then I’d just like to note that the other two players the Wolves drafted actually are on it. Sigh.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    I hate to say it but I’m very, very disappointed in Beasley. Not really his game, but moreso my assessment of it. I thought he was a legit 4 at the nba level but dude is SHORT and he’s no Barkley. He’s more like a 3… He’s a classic tweener and not the variety that creates match-up nightmares. Sure, he’ll have a good NBA career because he’s extremely talented but I don’t see him dominating.
    Worst-case scenario : Corliss Williamson.
    Best-case scenario : Melo.
    Most likely scenario : Glenn Robinson.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Oden is not in the top 10. Crazy. And I’m not even disagreeing.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    I’d like to hear E on Beasley. Did I let the hype get to me or what? I seriously thought that the Bulls should have drafted him to address their need of a low post scorer.

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    Beasley is a prime example of why I do not listen to all the hype about having great seasons in college. Tyler Hansbrough, JJ Redick, Adam Morrison, they all dominated college basketball and have not or will not make very good pros. Beasley is in the same mold, he is not a world class athlete, he is a good athlete don’t get me wrong but he cannot do the athletic things a top 3 pick should be able to do. And he is too small to make up for his lack of athleticism, just because he dominated inferior competition in college does not mean he will dominate in the NBA.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Earl K. Sneed

    Beasley will always put up numbers that will in no way affect the game…He’ll eventually get you 20 a night, and you’ll look up at the scoreboard and say:

    “Wow, when did that happen? Hey, did you realize Beasley had 20….Wow! That was quiet…”

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Yeah um, it’s only been a little more than a quarter of his rookie season, and people are getting prepared to call Beasley a bust? Come on, ya’ll.

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    He is not a bust if you never expected him to be good.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    (sigh)

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    I am not talking about everyone I am talking about me, I have been saying Beasley was not going to be a star since right around March last year. If he turns out to be good though I will eat my words and admit I am not a good judge of talent.

  • http://andrewamcneill.wordpress.com andrew mcneill

    Seriously? George Hill is only “Further Consideration?” You gotta check his impact when Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were out. Can’t trust this list until then.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I understand that NBK. I have a problem with you saying Beasley dominated inferior comp in college and the fact that just because players have big years in college that they won’t be guaranteed to be good pro’s. Granted, that is correct to an extent, but scouts who get paid to evaluate talent were all very high on Beasley. Instead of calling him a “tweener”, I would like to just call him a baller. With Wade playing out of his mind, what exactly did you expect of him his rookie year?

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    I didn’t expect much of anything from him because I do not see the same potential all the scouts raved about. I see his ability to put the ball in the basket and I think he will always be able to score in the NBA. But i did not think he should have been taken before OJ, and I also did not think it was a real hard choice to make choosing Rose before him. What I think will end up happening with Beasley’s career is he will be a 15-20 ppg guy for the next 10 years so “bust” is not the right word, i just don’t think he is as good as he was made out to be. I put him in the same category as Andrew Bogut, a solid pro but nothing close to what the hoopla made him out to be.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I think i’ll trust Riley’s assessment and choice.

  • http://allday-fadeaway.blogspot.com Nbk

    Ill trust my own. I havent been wrong about a player for a long time. And OJ is proving that he is the best scoring guard to come into the league since AI like i said he would, and has been my choice for 09 ROY all along.

  • WhaHuh

    Beasley set double double records in the NCAA, he has yet to have 10 rebounds in the NBA. He could be a good SF not a good PF

  • http://www.where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    No Basketball Knowledge.

  • flipinoman7258

    Why isnt eric gordon or love on the list???
    Still that derrick rose is a BEAST!!!

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    TAD, I know you’re always on the let’s-be-patient tip but it’s clear that Beasley has a ceiling. Doesn’t mean that he’s a bust but he has a ceiling. It’s kinda like Bargs, Beasley is better than him right now and might always be. But Bargs has a higher ceiling, if he ever figures it out he might be Dirk 2.0. I really doubt that Beasley will be the next Melo. The rebounding thing is really disturbing. He can’t board in the pros.
    Besides, if we’re not supposed to judge guys until the season is freaking over… what are we doing on this message board in the first place?

  • http://fjsdklf.com Jukai

    Er, I’m actually with Z and NBK on this one. Beasley has been a bit upsetting to me. He really CAN’T rebound.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Big Man

    I think Beasley can rebound. He has the ability. It’s more a function of consistent effort on his part. Same thing with Durant. Both of them have the ability to get rebounds, but they don’t have the desire to do that kind of work. That could change.
    OJ looks great, but he is gunning.

  • http://fjsdklf.com Jukai

    OJ airballs a three at least once in every game. For some reason, that disturbs me.

  • Orlando Woolridge

    I’m sure that Beasley would score 20 ppg if he played for the Griz. Like OJ, he would have the minutes and the green light. I think he’ll be just fine.

  • Orlando Woolridge

    …and take it easy with the Bargs being the next Dirk stuff.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Big Man, I’m not buying the desire angle. What? They lost their hunger for boards as soon as they signed on the dotted line? You’re talking about dudes that were averaging 10+ boards in 40-minute games. My conclusions are less esoteric : KD is light, MB is short.
    Orlando, I said that was his ceiling… not that he’ll get there.

  • Harlem_World

    Interesting points…Good write up. I feel OJ has unquestionable ability, but Rose understands the game better and I think is more valuable playing both ways. I see OJ being a ‘guaranteed buckets’ guy, but not a guy who will necessarily ever lead a team to a ring – while I feel Rose has the potential to do that. For those putting OJ over Rose, I have yet to hear anyone give any reasons why Rose’s game shouldn’t get ROY? It’s not just about putting the ball in the basket (which he has shown an ability to do at a level nobody can do anything about athletically), his overall feel for the game and basketball IQ is higher than OJ’s imho. OJ is better than advertised though. Alot of people thought he’d be a bust. I’m glad he’s proving them wrong. As for Beasley…the jury is out for now…I’ve got questions over his hunger/desire, but we’ll see.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    With that being said, I really don’t know what they’re trying to do in the MIA with MB’s minutes… The Heat are not contending, he’s going to be a part of their foundation… why is he not playing 30 mins + per game?! Rose is logging 38 per, OJ is at 37, even Chalmers is at 31! Lack of intensity? Not knowing the playbook? Missing assignments? What gives!? He’s playing behind Anthony (a journeyman) and Marion (an expiring contract).

  • kc

    eric gordon get the green light he would be roy of the year not mayo

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Ok, i’m not saying to not discuss and eveluate how well or not so well Beasley has done so far in his rookie campaign, i’m just saying we need to keep perspective. Some rookies come in like gangbusters and light it up from opening tip and some rookies take time to find their niche. Beasley has Wade playing bonkers and Marion in front of him, so why not play him off the bench and bring him in slowly? I can’t judge how a guy is going to be after 30+ games for his whole career. Where is everyone who was slobbing Beasley’s knob before the season started? Anyway, I still think at the end of the day Beasley will be a very good pro.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    That’s exactly it, TAD. ‘A very good pro’ is someone like Glenn Robinson. That would be really disappointing. The reason why I’m beating the Big Dog comparison to death is that Robinson was a 5 in HS, a 4 in college and a 3 in the NBA because he wasn’t tall nor supremely athletic.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Come on now! Glenn Robinson could barely bend over at the waist! Beasley is not that.

  • MeloMan13

    i think Beasley should play small forward instead because of his height. he has the skill set and athletisism to accel in that position

  • http://fjsdklf.com Jukai

    Accelling sounds painful.

  • Young Chris MP3

    LOL @ B.Long’s 12/23 4:13 pm comment. Merry Christmas everybody!

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