by Ben Osborne

Wednesday’s announcement of the Rookie Challenge rosters was my latest reminder that I had yet to post our annual “Rookies Most Likely To…” Feature, which ran in SLAM #133. It wasn’t laziness, though–for the most part I’d delayed things on account of Blake Griffin’s injury-caused tumble from leading vote getter to see you next season. Combine Blake’s fate being finalized with the timeliness of the Rookie Challenge participants, and the timing was finally right. rookies09

We’ve all got Brandon and Tyreke fever these days, but looking at these picks is a reminder of just how hopeful everyone was about Blake just over three months ago.

Rookies Most Likely To…

Whether their impact proves to be large or not, there is some fresh new blood joining the League this season, and, as always, we’re guessing who’s going to be the best of them. And the worst. Yes, we rounded off.

Voters: Cub Buenning, Franklyn Calle, Adam Fleischer, Ryan Jones, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Dennis Page, Susan Price, Khalid Salaam, Aggrey Sam, Bonsu Thompson, Tzvi Twersky, Lang Whitaker

Average 20 points:
Blake Griffin: 54 percent
Tyreke Evans: 31 percent
Stepen Curry: 15 percent
“On a team void of any real frontcourt punch, the athletic Griffin will find space and quality shots from the opening tip.”—Cub Buenning

Average 10 rebounds:
Blake Griffin: 92 percent
Jordan Hill: 8 percent
“As the prized first overall pick, Griffin’s rebounding numbers rely on a few givens: athleticism, plenty of burn, and Baron Davis’ shooting percentage.”—Adam Fleischer

Average 10 assists:
Brandon Jennings: 54 percent
Jonny Flynn: 15 percent
Eric Maynor, Ricky Rubio (in Spain), Tyreke Evans, Ty Lawson: 8 percent
“For Brandon Jennings, getting assists this year compared to last should be like the difference between jogging in water and on dry ground. As long as Coach Skiles gives him the ball and lets him play, the NBA’s more liberal scorekeepers should help Young Money rack up the assists.”—Ben Osborne

Unfairly get bench splinters:

Eric Maynor: 23 percent
Austin Daye: 15 percent
Sam Young, Jordan Hill, Jonny Flynn, DeMar DeRozen, Christian Eyenga, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Wayne Ellington: 8 percent
“Though the Olympics taught us that Deron Williams can be on the court with another PG (Chris Paul), we won’t see much of that this year, as Coach Sloan forces a pro-ready Maynor to learn from the pine.”—Tzvi Twersky

Lead the League in turnovers:
Brandon Jennings: 31 percent
Tyreke Evans: 23 percent
Eric Maynor, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet: 8 percent
“Following a year of pro apprenticeship in Italy, expect the outgoing rookie to be a bit more subdued (kinda like his presence on the ‘Net, after his Twitter and Joe Buddens episodes) on the floor, but anybody who’s seen him ball at length recognizes his passion for flashin’, and despite taskmaster Scott Skiles at Milwaukee’s helm, equal parts exciting and erratic play will likely be the Compton product’s rookie recipe.”—Aggrey Sam

Lead the League in blocks:
Hasheem Thabeet: 100 percent
“Because, well, lets face it: Blocking shots is his entire selling point right now. He’ll focus on at least getting this right, won’t he?”—Khalid Salaam

Be Rookie of the Year:
Blake Griffin: 54 percent
Tyreke Evans: 23 percent
Brandon Jennings, Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry: 8 percent
“Since 1980, all but three ROYs have been top 5 picks and played top 2 minutes their rookie season. Suffice to say this unanimous all-everything has the odds in his favor.”—Ryne Nelson

Hurt himself running laps:
Tyler Hansbrough and BJ Mullens: 23 percent
Austin Daye and DeJuan Blair: 15 percent
James Harden, Jonas Jerebko, Hasheem Thabeet: 8 percent
“My suspicion is that Mullens will trip and fall on his mustache. Once he shaves it, we can talk.”—Lang Whitaker

Fade into obscurity:
Tyler Hansbrough: 23 percent
Gerald Henderson and BJ Mullens and Ricky Rubio: 15 percent
Earl Clark, Christian Eyenga, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday: 8 percent
“Those upchuck shots Tyler built his collegiate career upon will be blockshot candy in the A.”—Bonsu Thompson