The NBA Rookie Ladder: December 2013

Even before the second month of the new NBA season ends, a lot of people are already saying that this batch of rookies is comparable to the 2000 NBA Draft Class, which is possibly the worst insult any draft class can receive. I mean, remember 2000? Kenyon Martin, yes, that hothead from the Cincinnati Bearcats program who has been part-journeyman, part-laughingstock in the NBA, was the top overall pick that year.

The second pick? Stromile Swift. The third? Darius Miles. The fourth? Marcus Fizer.

Of all the picks in this draft, only Martin, 19th pick Jamaal Magloire, and 43rd pick Michael Redd have played in an NBA All-Star Game. Only four guys have received end-of-season awards – Hedo Turkoglu as the Most Improved Player in 2008, Jamal Crawford as the Sixth Man of the Year in 2010, and Mike Miller as the Sixth Man of the Year in 2006. Oh and the Rookie of the Year of this class? Mike Miller, only because each draft class needed to have an ROY recipient, right?

This class was so bad it’s the only class, THE ONLY CLASS, to ever be rated F according to Dave Schoenfield of

The class of 2013-2014, however, seems to be challenging that ignominious distinction.

Top pick Anthony Bennett is playing just 10 minutes per game as a forced small forward with an obvious power forward’s skill-set. Nerlens Noel and CJ McCollum, both among the first ten picks, haven’t played a lick of pro hoops. Two members of the top five picks – Alex Len and Otto Porter – are norming just 7.8 and 10.5 minutes respectively.

Yes, things look bleak. There might not be any potential franchise player in the whole bunch – definitely nobody who has made the same impact as, say, Damian Lillard did last season. Still, there are a handful of names worth remembering, worth mentioning, if only because they’ve had some shining moments, though few and far between.

Michael Carter-Williams has emerged as one of the most promising
prospects for the the rookie class of 2013.
(image from the Philadelphia 76ers' Facebook page)

Note: All of the following stats are based on each player’s stats as computed by They were taken on December 26, 2013 (Manila time).

5. Nate Wolters (MIL) - 6.8ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.6apg, 8.4 EFF
Wolters has actually catapulted himself as the second-string point guard for the Bucks. That’s not necessarily something to write home about, but at least he’s getting somewhere, which is something not applicable for many other members of this draft class. He is also the team’s second-best assists guy right behind Mr. Postertized himself, Brandon Knight.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) - 6.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.2apg, .491 FG%, 9.0 EFF
The 6’10 “Greek Freak” has been more of a running gag (mainly due to his difficult-to-pronounce surname) than an impact player in the NBA, but, hey, his athleticism cannot be overlooked. He still has to work on a lot of things to ensure a long and productive NBA career, but he has started on the right foot with reasonably impressive efficiency on both ends of the floor. Remember that he plays just 20 minutes per game.

3. Victor Oladipo (ORL) - 12.9ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.3apg, 1.6spg, 11.6 EFF
Not a few people felt Oladipo would’ve been a better fit and an overall better pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and, now that Oladipo has seemingly settled into his role for the Magic and that Dion Waiters has been rumored to have had a falling out with Uncle Drew, there seems to be credence to that notion. Oladipo is doing pretty well for the Magic. He’s the defensive side of Orlando’s two-SG combo, along with Arron Afflalo, who’s more of the shoot-first kind. As the season progresses, expect Oladipo to contend for the ROY plum.

2. Trey Burke (UTA) - 13.5ppg, 3.4rpg, 4.9apg, 1.6 triples per game, .923 FT%, 13.1 EFF
Here’s what you need to know about Utah’s Trey Burke: He injured his right index finger in the preseason, was ruled out to miss games indefinitely, but returned on November 20, 2013 against the New Orleans Pelicans anyway. Brash or brilliant? You tell me -- Burke scored 11 points on 5/8 FG shooting against NOP in his very first NBA game. Without him, Utah won just 1 game, but with him, the Jazz have won 7. Granted, they’re still the worst club in the league (no, the Bucks are!!!), but at least Burke is playing like his life depended on it. Another sure-fire contender for ROY.

Trey Burke has enjoyed a strong start for the Utah Jazz.
(image from the USTSI)

1. Michael Carter-Williams (PHI) - 17.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 7.8apg, 3.0spg, 1.4 triples per game, 20.2 EFF EFF
MCW and the Sixers beat the Miami Heat in their very first game of the regular season. If that doesn’t impress you, then how about this – he recorded his first career triple-double (it looks like he’s bound to be one of those long-term triple-double threats) against Orlando early in December, getting 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals. Incidentally, Oladipo also registered a triple-double in that historic game (26 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals), but MCW was the clear winner as his team prevailed, 126-125. Right now, MCW leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists, and minutes played while also leading all players in steals. ROY material? You betcha.

Outside looking in:
Steven Adams (OKC) – 7.8 EFF
Shawne Williams (LAL) – 7.5 EFF
Kelly Olynyk (BOS) – 7.5 EFF

Game Recaps:

(Monday, December 23rd)
Final Score: Charlotte 111, Milwaukee 110 (OT)
Charlotte, NC ( - Kemba Walker flirted with a triple-double, scoring 25 points while dishing out 10 assists and grabbing nine rebounds to help Charlotte escape with a 111-110 overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena. The UConn product scored seven of the 10 Charlotte points in the extra period. Al Jefferson tallied a season-high 26 points with nine rebounds for the Bobcats, who have won four of their last five contests. The Bobcats were up 109-108 when Walker missed a shot from the elbow to give the ball back to Milwaukee with 25 seconds left. The Bucks struggled to find an open shot out of the timeout before Khris Middleton missed a contested mid-range jumper. Walker stepped to the line with 1.6 ticks left in overtime and sank both free throws to put Charlotte up 111-108. Milwaukee thought that they tied the game after Middleton took a cross-court inbound pass in the corner and nailed the shot, but his foot was on the line and Charlotte escaped with a win. Brandon Knight registered a double-double with 26 points and 14 assists while Khris Middleton scored 19 points for the Bucks, who have yet to win consecutive games this season.

Final Score: Detroit 115, Cleveland 92
Cleveland, OH ( - Josh Smith scored 25 points, Brandon Jennings added 21 with 13 assists and the Detroit Pistons cruised past the Cleveland Cavaliers for the seventh straight time, 115-92, on Monday. Andre Drummond chipped in with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Greg Monroe added 11 and 11 for the Pistons, who were coming off double-digit home losses to the Bobcats and Rockets. Kyrie Irving's 21 points and seven assists as well as Tristan Thompson's 17 points and six boards went for naught for Cleveland.

Final Score: New York 103, Orlando 98
Orlando, FL ( - Iman Shumpert relentlessly hustled back on defense as Glen Davis rumbled down the floor in transition with a clear path to the basket. As Davis was about to go up for the layup, Shumpert knocked the ball away. With Carmelo Anthony exiting earlier in the third and the New York Knicks clinging on to a seemingly insurmountable lead at one point, it was just the play they needed. Anthony netted 19 points before leaving with a left ankle sprain and the Knicks edged the Orlando Magic, 103-98, on Monday night. New York led by 24 at the half and by as many as 25, but a Jameer Nelson layup pulled the Magic within 97-93 with 1:24 left. Davis then stole a pass from Beno Udrih, but Shumpert chased him down from behind. Davis then missed a jumper and Udrih hit six foul shots down the stretch to seal the outcome for the Knicks. Anthony left midway through the third quarter after he twisted his ankle on Nik Vucevic's foot following an offensive rebound attempt. J.R. Smith had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyson Chandler scored 10 points to go with 13 boards for New York, which has alternated wins and losses over its last eight tilts. They've beaten the Magic eight straight times. Raymond Felton returned following a six-game absence due to a left hamstring injury, but he exited Monday's contest with a right groin strain. Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 26 points and Davis chipped in 20. The Magic have dropped 11 of their last 13 games.

Final Score: Indiana 103, Brooklyn 86
Brooklyn, NY ( - Paul George and Lance Stephenson each scored 26 points on a combined 20-of-35 shooting to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 103-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets from Barclays Center. Stephenson, who recorded his league-leading third triple-double in Sunday's 106-79 win over Boston, added seven rebounds and five assists. David West and George Hill contributed 13 and 10, respectively, for Indiana, which has won three in a row on the heels of a two-game skid. Joe Johnson paced Brooklyn, losers in three straight, with 17 points, while Kevin Garnett added 12 on 3-for-10 shooting. Deron Williams netted nine points with eight assists in the setback.

Final Score: Miami 121, Atlanta 119 (OT)
Miami, FL ( - LeBron James tallied 38 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Michael Beasley drained the two biggest free throws of his NBA career late in overtime in the Miami Heat's thrilling 121-119 decision over the Atlanta Hawks from AmericanAirlines Arena. Neither team led by more than a possession in overtime and Miami trailed 119-116 with 1:08 left before Chris Andersen's layup cut its deficit to one. Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap, who combined to shoot 12-of-18 from behind the arc, each missed a triple attempt for Atlanta and on the ensuing Heat possession, James penetrated and dropped a pass off to a slashing Beasley, who drew a foul with 9.2 seconds remaining. Beasley drained both free throws to put the hosts in front by a point. Atlanta had one final look at the basket after Miami took a foul with 2.3 ticks remaining. Out of a timeout, rookie big man Pero Antic inbounded from the left sideline and lobbed the ball to the rim for a curling Korver, who caught the heave but failed to get his layup attempt over the rim. Anderson secured the rebound to seal the outcome for Miami. Ray Allen, whose free throws forced the extra session, scored 19 points filling in for an injured Dwyane Wade. Anderson and Beasley netted 12 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench as the Heat won their fifth straight game.

Final Score: Houston 111, Dallas 104
Houston, TX ( - Dirk Nowitzki netted 31 points and moved into sole possession of 13th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Houston Rockets 111-104 on Monday night. Nowitzki passed Alex English when his knocked down a jumper at the 11:09 mark of the third quarter. Monta Ellis had 18 points, five assists and five rebounds for Dallas, which snapped its brief two-game slide. Dwight Howard tallied 29 points and 15 boards for the Rockets, who have alternated wins and losses over their last eight tilts. Chandler Parsons scored 21 points in defeat.

Final Score: Memphis 104, Utah 94
Memphis, TN ( - Zach Randolph registered his 16th double- double of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds to help lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 104-92 win over the Utah Jazz at FedEx Forum on Monday. Memphis' bench was key for the Grizzlies as they outscored Utah's reserves 51-18. Jerryd Bayless tallied 17 points, while Mike Miller scored 15 and Jon Leuer added 11 for Memphis, which won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-November. Trey Burke and Richard Jefferson each had 18 points. Gordon Hayward added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who closed out a five-game road trip with a 2-3 record.

Final Score: San Antonio 112, Toronto 99
San Antonio, TX ( - Tony Parker registered 26 points and eight assists and San Antonio made 6-of-7 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Spurs edged the Toronto Raptors, 112-99, from AT&T Center. Manu Ginobili had 18 points off the bench in the triumph, San Antonio's third in its last four games. Danny Green netted 12 of his 14 points in the final period on 4- of-4 from the arc, while Kawhi Leonard added a pair of 3s as part of his 13- point, 10-rebound effort. Tim Duncan grabbed a game-high 12 boards. Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross scored 23 points apiece for Toronto, which had won four of five entering the contest. Lowry also dished out a game-high nine assists, while DeMar DeRozan added 13 points and seven boards.

Final Score: Golden State 89, Denver 81
Denver, CO ( - David Lee tallied his ninth straight double- double with 28 points and 10 rebounds as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Denver Nuggets 89-81 on Monday night. Klay Thompson netted eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, while Stephen Curry added 14 points for the Warriors, who have won three of their last four games. Ty Lawson had 16 points for Denver, which has dropped four straight tilts.

Final Score: Phoenix 117, LA Lakers 90
Phoenix, AZ ( - Gerald Green scored 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc as the Phoenix Suns dismantled the Los Angeles Lakers, 117-90, from US Airways Center. Miles Plumlee had a monster outing with 17 points and a career-high 20 rebounds for Phoenix, which has won three straight both overall and against Los Angeles. Marcus Morris contributed 19 points off the bench, while the backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic scored 16 and 12, respectively, with Bledsoe adding a season-high 11 rebounds. Both players also had seven assists. Nick Young paced LA with 19 points off the bench and Jodie Meeks scored 18 in the Lakers' second straight loss. Pau Gasol tallied 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting in his return to the starting lineup after missing Saturday's 102-83 loss to Golden State with an upper- respiratory infection.

Final Score: New Orleans 113, Sacramento 100
Sacramento, CA ( - Tyreke Evans had 25 points and 12 assists -- both season-highs -- and the New Orleans Pelicans salvaged the final game of their five-game road trip with a 113-100 win over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. Anthony Davis scored 21 points with 11 rebounds and Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday each chipped in with 17 points. DeMarcus Cousins registered a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds as the Kings have lost four of their last five tilts. Isaiah Thomas tallied 21 points and Marcus Thornton netted 19 off the bench in the setback.

(Wednesday, December 25th)
Final Score: Chicago 95, Brooklyn 78
Brooklyn, NY ( - Jimmy Butler scored 11 of his 15 points in a decisive third quarter that propelled the Chicago Bulls to a 95-78 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day. Taj Gibson led six Bulls players in double figures with 20 points off the bench. Carlos Boozer had 14 points and both Mike Dunleavy and reserve D.J. Augustin contributed 13 points apiece for Chicago, which has won consecutive games for the first time since a season-best five-game run from Nov. 8-18. Deron Williams scored 18 points to pace the Nets, who have dropped four games in a row.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 123, New York 94
New York, NY ( - It was rough sledding for the New York Knicks with Carmelo Anthony sitting on the bench in street clothes. The way Kevin Durant had it going, though, Anthony's playing status may have been mute. Durant scored 20 of his 29 points in the first half, while Westbrook tallied his first triple-double of the season and the seventh of his career as the Oklahoma City Thunder routed the New York Knicks 123-94 on Christmas Day. Durant was 7-of-9 from the floor over the first 24 minutes, while Westbrook had 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for Oklahoma City, which had never won away from home on Christmas, snapping its 10-game skid. Serge Ibaka netted 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the triumph. Anthony was ruled out prior to the tilt with a left ankle sprain he suffered in the third quarter of Monday's game against the Orlando Magic. Wednesday's contest was the first where Anthony didn't lead the Knicks in scoring this year. Amare Stoudemire scored 22 to top the Knicks, who played in their NBA-record 49th Christmas Day game and fell to 23-26 on the holiday.

Final Score: Miami 101, LA Lakers 95
Los Angeles, CA ( - Dwyane Wade had 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while LeBron James finished with 19 points and eight boards in Miami's 101-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Miami has won 19 consecutive regular-season games against Western Conference opponents. The Heat are one win away from matching the 1973 Boston Celtics' record 20-game winning streak against Western Conference counterparts. The Heat have won six in a row overall. Chris Bosh tallied 23 points and 11 rebounds in the triumph. This marquee matchup took a hit last week when it was announced Kobe Bryant would be out the next six weeks with a broken bone in his knee. He missed the first six weeks of the year while recovering from a torn Achilles. Jordan Farmar came back from a 10-game absence due to a left hamstring tear. His return allowed the Lakers to have a true point guard running the offense with Steve Blake and Steve Nash still out. Farmar had three points and two assists in 32 minutes. Nick Young netted 20 points off the bench to lead LA, which dropped its third in a row. The Lakers have lost all five games against the Heat on Christmas Day.

Final Score: Houston 111, San Antonio 98
San Antonio, TX ( - James Harden returned from a two-game absence and led all five Houston starters in double figures with 28 points, as the Rockets topped the San Antonio Spurs, 111-98, at AT&T Center. Harden sat out games against Detroit and Dallas due to a sprained left ankle, but the veteran shooting guard was a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth quarter against the Spurs. Harden had 11 straight Houston points during the final period and scored 16 in the frame. Dwight Howard contributed 15 points and 20 rebounds for the Rockets, who are within 3 1/2 games of the Spurs for first place in the Southwest Division. Terrence Jones had 21 points and 14 boards, while Chandler Parsons also scored 21 to go with six rebounds and six assists. Jeremy Lin had 13 points and eight helpers. The Rockets, who didn't trail the entire game, made 12-of-24 shots from beyond the arc. Manu Ginobili had 22 points for the Spurs, who suffered only their fourth home loss all season. Two of those defeats have come against the Rockets. Tim Duncan finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and five assists. Kawhi Leonard scored 13 points for the Spurs, who lost for the second time in three contests.

Final Score: Golden State 105, LA Clippers 103
Oakland, CA ( - Although it was Christmas night, there was little holiday cheer between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. Instead, two flagrant fouls were called and there were two ejections in a game that saw the Warriors come away with a 105-103 win. Clippers star forward Blake Griffin was ejected after picking up two technical fouls in the second half. Golden State forward Draymond Green was shown the door at the conclusion of the third quarter for throwing an elbow in the throat of Griffin. Warriors center Andrew Bogut was issued a flagrant foul for grabbing Griffin. It would seem there's much to look forward to when these Pacific Division teams meet again Jan. 30 in Los Angeles. David Lee had 23 points and 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson scored 23, and Stephen Curry totaled 15 points and 11 assists. Bogut contributed 10 points and 14 boards in Golden State's third straight win. Griffin had 20 points and 14 boards before being ejected with 10:43 left in the game. Chris Paul ended with 26 points and 11 assists. Jamal Crawford scored 19 and DeAndre Jordan had 13 points, 13 boards and six blocks, but the division-leading Clippers had their five-game winning streak stopped.

Next Post »
0 Comment