The NBA: January 2013 Rookie Ladder

With some teams nearing and some teams already past the halfway point (41-game mark) of the season, I felt it would be best to take stock of the 2012-2013 rookies and see where they stand. Many people feel Portland’s Damian Lillard has been, by far, the best of the lot, but a look at the freshmen’s most recent stats indicate that the Weber State product might not be as far removed from the rest of the competition as may be advertised.

Some rookies have remained quietly consistent (Anthony Davis), while others have really busted out in the last couple of weeks (Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal). Lillard, by virtue of his overall impact on the Blazers’ performance, might still have the inside track in the race for the Rookie-of-the-Year plum, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s way ahead of everyone else. On the contrary, the following numbers actually show that Lillard is no longer the top newcomer in the Association.

5 - Tyler Zeller (CLE) - 9.0ppg, 8.4rpg, 2.4bpg, .895 FT%, 14.4 EFF
The Tar Heel is making the most out of Anderson Varejao’s absence. The near-double-double average and eye-popping blocks-per-game stat are all mouth-watering for Cleveland fans, and these have cushioned the crunch of another “rebuilding” season in Ohio. For Fantasy NBA peeps, he might be a really nice pick-up, too!

4 - Bradley Beal (WAS) - 16.2ppg, .545 FG%, .636 3pt%, 15.4 EFF
One of my students swears by the Wizards, and Beal has become his second-most-favorite player (the first one is Jordan Crawford and NOT John Wall – go figure). The rookie has really come alive of late, and the Wizards have been awfully scary because of him. Washington has won 5 of its last 7 games.

Bradley Beal is making waves in the East, and seems to
be muddling up the ROY picture a little bit.
(image by Don Ryan/AP)
3 - Damian Lillard (POR) - 16.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 7.2apg, 15.6 EFF
One of my students believes Lillard is the runaway ROY. His numbers have dipped a bit compared to earlier in the season, but this does not diminish his stock one bit. He’s made Portland relevant again, and perhaps no other stat is as important as that. It’s a bummer, however, that they’ve lost their last 6 games.

2 - Andre Drummond (DET) - 10.8ppg, 7.8rpg, 2.2bpg, .742 FG%, 18.6 EFF
Detroit has won 3 of its last 5, and Drummond is a big reason why. Whereas Greg Monroe is the legit low post threat, Drummond is the high-flying complement who does the dirty work around the rim like collaring rebounds and blocking shots. And would you look at that field goal percentage – nearly 75%!!! That means that, for the past 5 games, the rookie has made about 3 of every 4 shots. Now THAT should surely turn some heads.

1 - Anthony Davis (NOH) - 12.8ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.2spg, 2.4bpg, .651 FG%, 21.2 EFF
The top overall pick hasn’t made a lot of noise outside of a couple of highlight reels every week, but that’s mainly because the Hornets suck (yes, even if they’ve won 3 of their last 5). Still, Davis, at least in terms of the numbers, is the bona fide most productive rookie out there every night. His numbers actually aren’t that far off from the rookie numbers of another top overall pick big man, Dwight Howard, who normed 12.0ppg, 10.0rpg, 1.7bpg, and shot 67.1% from the floor in his first NBA season. If I may be so bold, I’d advise the Lakers to actually ship Dwight to New Orleans in exchange for Davis. Now THAT’s straight up trade that’ll jettison the biggest crybaby in California in favor of, potentially, the most dominant force in the 2012 class.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Associated Press and the Sports Network):
January 19
San Antonio 98, Atlanta 93
Tony Parker had 23 points and 12 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs held off the short-handed Atlanta Hawks 98-93 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory. Matt Bonner added 17 points, and Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter each had 14 for the Spurs. The Hawks announced about 90 minutes before the game that guard Lou Williams faces season-ending surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee. Williams was hurt Friday at Brooklyn and the tear was found when Williams was examined on Saturday by Dr. Michael Bernot in Atlanta. Then the Hawks lost guard Devin Harris to a sprained left ankle in the third quarter. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 21 points. Kyle Korver, who started at shooting guard, had 19 points. Spurs forward Tim Duncan was not in uniform as he was given the night off by coach Gregg Popovich.

Memphis 85, Chicago 82
Marc Gasol scored 19 points, Zach Randolph had 13 points and 19 rebounds, and Memphis beat Chicago in overtime. Memphis scored the first six points of the extra period, Gasol's putback making it 82-76. The Bulls cut it to 83-80 on Jimmy Butler's layup and had a chance to tie, but Nate Robinson missed a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left. Robinson made a layup with 6.6 seconds left, but Jerryd Bayless scored with 4.8 seconds remaining to make it 85-82. Carlos Boozer missed a 3 as time expired. Chicago, playing its third consecutive overtime game in four days, didn't have enough in overtime. The Bulls played without forward Luol Deng and had to fight back from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit.

LA Clippers 94, Washington 87
Chris Paul had 22 points and 11 assists, Blake Griffin added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Los Angeles hung on to beat pesky Washington for its 24th win in 27 games. The Clippers won despite shooting a season-low 36.6 per cent from the field. Paul, the NBA player of the month for December, returned to the lineup after missing three games because of a bruised right kneecap and scored seven points in the final 3:14. The surging Clips are within a half-game of idle Oklahoma City for the NBA's best record, a full game ahead of San Antonio. The top teams in the Western Conference will go head-to-head on Tuesday night at Los Angeles in a rematch of their overtime battle on Nov. 21, when the Thunder beat the Clippers 117-111 in Griffin's hometown. John Wall scored 24 points off the bench for the Wizards, whose league-worst record dropped to 8-30 even though they had won four of their previous five games.

Golden State 116, New Orleans 112
Klay Thompson had a season-high 29 points, Jarrett Jack scored seven of his 25 in the final minute and Golden State beat New Orleans. The Warriors trailed 110-108 in a topsy-turvy game when Jack hit two free throws with 52 seconds left to tie the score. He converted a tough floater to give Golden State a 112-110 lead, and he finished off the Hornets with three free throws. Thompson scored 24 in the first half as the Warriors led by as much as 16. Jack, who played for the Hornets last season, added 12 assists. Stephen Curry, returning after missing two games with a right ankle sprain, had 17 of his 20 points in the second half. Eric Gordon scored 23 points for the Hornets, who lost despite shooting a season-high 57 per cent. Rookie Anthony Davis added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Milwaukee 110, Portland 104
Brandon Jennings had 30 points and eight assists, Ersan Ilyasova added 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Milwaukee beat Portland to wrap up a 3-1 road trip. Damian Lillard had 26 points and 10 assists for Portland, which has lost a season-high five straight games. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Wesley Matthews added 21 points. Mike Dunleavy had 14 points and Monta Ellis added 13 for Milwaukee, which is 5-2 since Jim Boylan took over as coach from Scott Skiles. Ilyasova shot 10 of 14 from the field and made all three of his 3-point attempts and all four of his free throws.

Minnesota 92, Houston 79
Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale signed 10-day contracts with Minnesota on Saturday morning, then scored the first 23 points of the fourth quarter to lift the Timberwolves over the slumping Houston Rockets. Johnson, signed from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League, scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth. Gelabale, a forward who arrived from France on Thursday, had 10 of his 11 points in the final 12 minutes to help the injury-plagued Wolves snap a five-game skid. James Harden scored 18 points on 5-of-18 shooting for the Rockets, who have lost seven straight games. Houston shot 32 per cent and committed 20 turnovers in another lethargic effort that had coach Kevin McHale scrambling to find anybody who could give them some energy.

Sacramento 97, Charlotte 93
Marcus Thornton scored 18 points off the bench, Tyreke Evans came up big down the stretch, and Sacramento held on to beat Charlotte for its third win in four games. After scoring just 69 points in a 16-point loss to Memphis a night earlier, the Kings made sure there would be not be another offensive letdown. They led most of the way but needed a late burst from Evans, who scored six of the team's last nine points in the final four minutes. Evans finished with 16 points. DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and James Johnson chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds for the Kings (16-25).

Utah 109, Cleveland 98
Randy Foye scored 20 points, Derrick Favours had a season-high 19 and Utah beat Cleveland. Utah (22-19) used a 31-point third quarter to take a 16-point lead into the fourth. The Jazz have won five of their last six, and six straight over the Cavs. Dion Waiters led the Cavs (10-32) with 23 points off the bench. Kyrie Irving added 18 points but started 1 of 7 from the field before finishing 7 of 20.

January 20
Toronto 108, LA Lakers 103
Jose Calderon posted 22 points and nine assists as the Toronto Raptors held off the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-103, at Air Canada Centre. Landry Fields added a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Ed Davis also poured in 18 points and Alan Anderson netted 14 for Toronto, which snapped a four-game slide. Kobe Bryant paced Los Angeles with 26 points on 10-of-32 shooting and Pau Gasol finished with 25 as the Lakers dropped their second straight game. Dwight Howard had five points, two rebounds and one assist before getting ejected in the second quarter for receiving his second technical foul of the game.

Dallas 111, Orlando 105
Shawn Marion tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds along with three steals to help the Dallas Mavericks down the Orlando Magic, 111-105, on Sunday at Amway Center. Seven Mavericks scored in double-figures, with Vince Carter and O.J. Mayo each finishing with 15 points. Carter also had six assists and three blocks in the victory for Dallas, which bounced back after having its four-game winning streak snapped against Oklahoma City on Friday. Dirk Nowitzki added 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks and Chris Kaman finished with 13 points and eight boards for the Mavericks, who have won seven in a row at Orlando. The Magic continued their troubles at home, falling for the eighth time in their last nine games. Glen Davis tallied 24 points, six assists and six rebounds, Jameer Nelson poured in 20 points, and Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the setback.

Detroit 103, Boston 88
Greg Monroe recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Detroit Pistons beat the Boston Celtics, 103-88, on Sunday. Andre Drummond added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Pistons, who bounced back from a loss to the Knicks in London on Thursday. Will Bynum and Brandon Knight each had 15 points. Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee ended with 16 points apiece for the Celtics, who have lost three in a row. Jeff Green donated 15 points.

Denver 121, Oklahoma City 118 (OT)
Corey Brewer led the Nuggets with 26 points and Denver held on in overtime to take a 121-118 decision over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Kenneth Faried scored 16 points to go with 10 rebounds and his hook shot late in the extra session gave Denver the lead for good. Danilo Gallinari scored 18, Wilson Chandler followed with 12 and Ty Lawson and Andre Miller each netted 11 for the Nuggets, who bounced back after a disappointing loss to the woeful Wizards on Friday. Kevin Durant finished with 37 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the end of overtime. Russell Westbrook sent the Thunder to an extra session with a long triple near the end of regulation. He tallied 36 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Oklahoma City, which saw its six-game winning streak come to an end.

January 21
Indiana 82, Memphis 81
The top two defenses in the NBA were on full display Monday in the annual Martin Luther King Day game. George Hill split a pair of go-ahead free throws with 1.4 seconds left in the Indiana Pacers' 82-81 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Rudy Gay banked in a difficult shot at the top of the key over the outstretched arms of Paul George following a timeout, but Gay didn't get the shot off in time. Indiana allowed 89.3 points per game coming in, while Memphis gave up 89.6 points per contest. The tilt featured 19 lead changes and 10 ties. George was an assist shy of a triple- double, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine helpers for the Pacers, who have won 16 of their last 21 games since a sluggish start. Wayne Ellington had 17 points off the bench to lead Memphis, which has dropped four of its last six contests.

New Orleans 114, Sacramento 105
Ryan Anderson nailed seven 3-pointers en route to 27 points and Greivis Vasquez recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists, helping the New Orleans Hornets beat the Sacramento Kings, 114-105, on Monday. Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu added 16 and 14 points, respectively, for the Hornets, who have won seven of their last nine games. Anthony Davis netted 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field to go with three blocks in the win. DeMarcus Cousins scored a game-high 29 points and snagged 13 rebounds for the Kings, who have lost six of their last nine. Isaiah Thomas contributed 20 points, while Tyreke Evans finished with 16 points and four assists.

Atlanta 104, Minnesota 96
The Atlanta Hawks picked up their energy just in time against the injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves. Al Horford tallied 28 points and 10 rebounds in the Hawks' 104-96 victory over the Wolves. Jannero Pargo added 16 points for Atlanta, which had lost eight of its last 10 games coming in. The Hawks shot a sizzling 57.7 percent (41-of-71) from the floor, but turned the ball over 22 times, which led to 26 Minnesota points. Derrick Williams netted 17 points to lead the Timberwolves, who have dropped six of their last seven contests. Minnesota was without Kevin Love (hand), Nikola Pekovic (bruised right quad) and Alexey Shved (ankle), all double-digit scorers, and head coach Rick Adelman, who is tending to his hospitalized wife.

Houston 100, Charlotte 94
James Harden racked up 29 points and seven assists and the Houston Rockets ended a seven-game losing streak by rallying for a 100-94 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. Harden netted 12 of his points during a fourth quarter in which Houston outscored the Bobcats by a 26-13 margin to erase a seven-point deficit and earn its first win since Jan. 8. The Rockets also benefited from a large advantage from the free throw line, burying 32-of-41 foul shots compared to a 20-of-24 success rate for Charlotte. Harden finished 19-of-21 from the charity stripe. The Rockets also received big contributions from the bench, with Marcus Morris recording 21 points and eight rebounds and fellow reserve Carlos Delfino dropping in 16 points to help Houston deal the Bobcats a franchise- worst 15th consecutive defeat on their home floor.

Brooklyn 88, New York 85
Joe Johnson poured in 25 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 22.3 seconds remaining, as the Brooklyn Nets bested the cross-town rival New York Knicks, 88-85, on Monday at Madison Square Garden. Deron Williams donated 14 points and 12 assists, while Brook Lopez added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who have won two straight and nine of their last 10 to pull within one game of the Knicks atop the Atlantic Division. Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 29 points to go with seven assists, but missed a potential go-ahead jumper late in regulation. J.R. Smith and Amare Stoudemire chipped in 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Knicks, who have lost four of their last six.

Golden State 106, LA Clippers 99
Stephen Curry netted a game-high 28 points on 6-of-8 shooting from behind the arc as the Golden State Warriors posted a 106-99 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack each registered 18 points, while Jack added 10 assists for the Warriors, who have won two straight games following a season-high three-game losing streak. David Lee supplied 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Blake Griffin scored 26 points, pulled down 13 boards and dished out eight assists for the Clippers, who had won four in a row. Jamal Crawford scored 24 points and Caron Butler totaled 19 in the loss.

San Antonio 90, Philadelphia 85
Tim Duncan had 24 points and 17 rebounds in the San Antonio Spurs' 90-85 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Tony Parker added 20 points and eight assists, while Kawhi Leonard chipped in 16 points and seven boards for the Spurs, who have won two straight road games after losing nine of their previous 11 away from home. Evan Turner tallied 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for Philadelphia, which has dropped seven of its last nine contests.

Chicago 95, LA Lakers 83
Kirk Hinrich led six Bulls players in double figures with 22 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds, as the Chicago Bulls pulled away from the punchless Los Angeles Lakers, 95-83, at United Center. Marco Belinelli scored 15 points, including two key 3- pointers during a late 18-4 run that put the game away. Jimmy Butler, starting for the second straight game in place of the injured Luol Deng, recorded 10 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who have won four of their last five. Carlos Boozer (14 points), Richard Hamilton (13) and Nate Robinson (11) rounded out Chicago's leading scorers. Steve Nash paced Los Angeles with 18 points and six assists, while Kobe Bryant was held to 16 points to end a string of 24 straight games of 20-plus points. The Lakers have dropped three in a row overall and six straight on the road for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Washington 98, Portland 95
Jordan Crawford drained a 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired to lift the Washington Wizards over the Portland Trail Blazers, 98-95, at the Rose Garden. Crawford scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter to lead the Wizards to their fifth win in seven games. Nene and Martell Webster paced Washington with 24 points apiece, while Nene added nine rebounds and five assists, and Webster dished out six assists. Damian Lillard scored 18 points, Wesley Matthews poured in 17 and LaMarcus Aldridge recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds for Portland, which has dropped six straight. Nicolas Batum posted the Trail Blazers' first regulation triple-double since Damon Stoudamire on April 15, 2005 with 12 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Damian Lillard remains a strong ROY contender, but even he
failed to lift Portland past the visiting Wizards.
(image by Sam Forencich/Getty Images)

January 22
Cleveland 95, Boston 90
Kyrie Irving started strong and put the Cavaliers on his back down the stretch to carry them to victory. Irving scored 40 and tallied 11 of the Cavaliers' final 13 points to push Cleveland past the reeling Boston Celtics, 95-90, at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday. He missed just two shots in scoring 19 first quarter points and shot 16-of-24 for the night to help Cleveland rebound off its rough 1-4 road trip. Tristan Thompson followed with 21 points and nine rebounds in the victory. With the defeat, the inconsistent Celtics have tied a season-worst with their fourth consecutive loss following a six-game winning streak. Rajon Rondo scored a team-best 17 points along with 13 rebounds and eight assists. Paul Pierce scored 12, but shot a miserable 3-for-15 from the field. Kevin Garnett tallied 16 points in defeat.

Detroit 105, Orlando 90
Andre Drummond and Jason Maxiell each recorded double-doubles with 11 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Detroit Pistons past the struggling Orlando Magic, 105-90, on Tuesday. Brandon Knight led Detroit with 18 points and Greg Monroe chipped in 16 points and six boards for the Pistons, who have won two straight following a loss to the Knicks in London last Thursday. Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey donated 15 and 14 points, respectively. J.J. Redick scored a game-high 26 points on 9- of-10 shooting and netted five 3-pointers for the Magic, who have lost three straight and 14 of their last 16 games overall. Jameer Nelson contributed 14 points and nine assists in the defeat.

Milwaukee 110, Philadelphia 102
Ersan Ilyasova scored 27 points and pulled down 16 rebounds and Brandon Jennings had 25 points and seven assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 110-102 win over the Philadelphia 76ers at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Monta Ellis scored 18 points to go with 10 assists and Mike Dunleavy added 11 points off the bench for the Bucks, who have won three straight. Evan Turner had 23 points and seven assists and Spencer Hawes added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers, who have dropped 19 of their last 26 games overall. Nick Young scored 20 points off the bench in the setback.

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