The NBA: Rookie Class

Kyrie Irving has been more than advertised for the
struggling Cleveland Cavaliers.
(image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are from the Associated Press. 

“He understands he can get better. He is so smart and so quick and has a good understanding of basketball.” – Cleveland coach Byron Scott on #1 pick Kyrie Irving.

The numbers seem to back up coach Scott.

Irving leads the Cavs in 3 stat categories – ppg (17.4), apg (4.8), and FG% (50.7%) – and he’s second in 3pt% (41.9%) behind Boobie Gibson.

Honestly, he’s been better than advertised. And now that he’s played more NBA games (16) than he did in his one year at Duke (11), it’s pretty clear Cleveland choosing him in front of anyone else was justified.

And he’s not the only rookie who has impressed in the first few weeks of the truncated season.

Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio has been an absolute blur, but the watchable kind. He’s averaging almost a double-double (10.7ppg and 8.3apg to go along with 4.6rpg and 2.5spg) for the Wolves, making them relevant and, again, worth watching. His numbers are actually comparable to Jason Kidd’s rookie numbers back in the ’94-’95 season – 11.7ppg, 7.7apg, 5.4 rpg and 1.9spg. Can he be as good, and as durable, as Kidd? Only time will tell, but, for now, we’ll be all too happy searching for Rubio’s highlights on YouTube.

At 15.4ppg and 4.6rpg, while shooting 46.7% from the field and 36.5% from beyond the arc, the 25th pick from Providence has really come into his own. Some have gone as far as to say he has the same swagger and devil-may-care aura as one Kobe Bryant. I doubt he’ll be the “next Kobe,” but as the first MarShon, he’s doing pretty well.

He’s cooled off quite considerably of late, but there was a 6-game stretch from January 8 till 17 where Kawhi Leonard averaged 13ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.7spg and shot 45% from three-land. In short, he stepped up big time. If he can somehow rediscover that effectiveness, then San Antonio shouldn’t miss Manu as much as they thought.

Averaging almost a dozen points, better than 3 rebounds, better than 3 assists, just over 1 steal, and about 1 three per game in the NBA is nice. Even nicer if you’re the 9th pick in the draft, coming after underachieving guys like Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter. I don’t expect Kemba Walker to win the ROY, but he will be in the conversation because, at just 21, he’s already one of the best players (despite his FG shooting anomaly) on a terrible Bobcats team.

Come on, honestly, did you expect Norris Cole to make a whiff of a difference for the Miami Heat this season? Oh, but he has. The 28th pick from Cleveland State is averaging almost 9ppg, just under 3apg and exactly 1spg in just over 21 minutes per outing for the league’s most hated team (sorry, just had to insert that there). He’s made a difference, and as long as Dwyane Wade sits out games, he’ll be expected to make an even bigger difference.

Other notable newbie’s whom I think might still break out this season:
Brandon Knight (DET)
Iman Shumpert (NYK)
Klay Thompson (GSW)
Tristan Thompson (CLE)

Am I missing anyone?

*I think, given enough time, Derrick Williams can break out, too, but he hasn’t exactly done that despite the absence of Michael Beasley. He’s gotta seize the moment.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

NYK over CHA, 111-78 – Tyson Chandler was a tower-of-power, displacing Kemba Walkers’s great scoring performance.
ORL over IND, 102-93 – The Magic almost doubled up on their output a few days ago against Boston. Ryan Anderson is still smoking, hitting 5 treys.
MIA over CLE, 92-85 – Not a lot of hype this time around as Bosh came up big to deflate the Cavs’ challenge.
TOR over PHX, 99-96 – At times, Andrea Bargnani looks like the next Dirk Nowitzki. At times, it seems like he’s just a better version of Nikoloz Tsikitishvili. Good thing he was more Dirk than Skita here.
POR over MEM, 97-84 – Limiting the Grizz to just 31 points thru the middle two periods helped the Blazers to their 11th win for the season.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Andrea Bargnani (TOR) – 36
Chris Bosh (MIA) – 35
Ryan Anderson (ORL) – 24
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 23
Kemba Walker (CHA) - 22

Andrea Bargnani has been more awesome than awful this season,
but he still needs to work on his consistency.

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Marcus Camby (POR) – 22
Tyson Chandler (NYK) – 17
Roy Hibbert (IND) & Marcin Gortat (PHX) – 12

Marcus Camby seems to have rediscovered
the zeal that made him a rebound demon a few seasons ago.
Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Steve Nash (PHX) – 14
Jose Calderon (TOR) – 11
Hedo Turkoglu (ORL) – 8

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Mike Conley (MEM) – 5
Antawn Jamison (CLE) & Shane Battier (MIA) – 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Marcus Camby (POR) – 5
Earl Clark (ORL) – 4
Bryon Mullens (CHA) – 3

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Ryan Anderson (ORL) – 5
Andrea Bargnani (TOR) – 4
Hedo Turkoglu (ORL), Steve Novak (NYK) & Leandro Barbosa (TOR) – 3

Jan. 24, 2012 First Five
C – Tyson Chandler (NYK) – 20pts- 17rebs, 2asts, 1blk
F – Andrea Bargnani (TOR) – 36pts, 6rebs, 4 treys, 2asts, 2stls, 1blk
F – Chris Bosh (TOR) – 35pts, 7rebs, 2asts, 1blk
G – Landry Fields (NYK) – 18pts, 5asts, 4rebs, 2stls, 2blks
G – Steve Nash (PHX) – 17pts, 14asts, 7rebs

When will Tyson Chandler and the Knicks finally
slam the competition like they're supposed to?
Honorable Mention:
Marcin Gortat (PHX) – 21pts, 12rebs, 2blks, 1ast
Ryan Anderson (ORL) – 24pts, 8rebs, 5 treys, 1stl, 1blk
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 23pts, 6rebs, 3asts

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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1 Comment

Nice game, i like basketball very much and love to watch matches alot, they are amazing....