Thursday, October 30, 2008

Checking In With TSC

Our buddy Kyle Slavin over at The Second Coming has some very intriguing personnel changes in his latest article NBA Tip-Off: 5 Trades That Should Happen. Here is a taste;

1. Jamal Crawford ($8.6m till 2011) for Raja Bell ($5m till 2010) and Grant Hill ($1.9 till 2009)

Fact: David Lee should not be the first Knick on the trading block. The dude could be an All-Star. He is young, healthy, ambitious, and would be willing to share the spotlight with LeBron or whoever they sign in 2010. Besides, he might be the best white American in the NBA, he’s playing in NYC, and I dig that. You do too, don’t lie.

Furthermore, I have long believed that Jamal Crawford needs to play for a west coast team with a killer point guard. I saw him when he scored 51 points, and the kid is the perfect running mate for Steve Nash. Can’t you see it? Amare and Shaq clog up the middle, and JC is free for the three. They get a fast break, JC is a finisher. He’s no more of a team killer than Shawn Marion or even Raja Bell. He’d be perfect.

On the flip side, the Knicks get some veteran leadership and some quality production in Grant Hill’s skeleton, and a hard-nosed defender with an attitude in Bell. Let me tell you, Raja Bell has New York written all over him. He’s a little short, sneers, shaves his head, talks a lot of “ish”, and can produce decent numbers. Plus they both come off the books by 2010 and free up some cap room, whereas Crawford would be a holdover for one year with the Potential LeBron before bolting town. Crawford’s absence makes LeBron to NY more of a possibility, as does Lee’s staying in NYC. It’s common sense, but hey, it’s the Knicks. So who knows.

(BTW, I will officially refer to this LeBron-to-NY situation as the “Potential LeBron” from this point forward. It sounds like an Econ 101 term, and the Knicks are playing with his specter for the next two seasons anyways. I like it.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA Preview; Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers
Coach: Phil Jackson
Projected Finish: 58-24
Projected Starters
C – Andrew Bynum (13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
PF – Pau Gasol (18.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg)
SF – Vladimir Radmanovic (8.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
SG – Kobe Bryant (28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg)
PG – Derek Fisher (11.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.9 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Sasha Vujacic
F - Lamar Odom
F - Trevor Ariza
It is truly scary how much depth Los Angeles has. The only two legitimate threats they should have of representing the Western Conference again in the NBA Finals are the New Orleans Hornets, and the health of the Lakers team. If Gasol, Bynum, and Kobe can all play at peak performance, it will be a fun ride for the fans at the Staples Center

Phoenix Suns
Coach: Terry Porter
Projected Finish: 53-29
Projected Starters
C – Shaquille O'Neal (13.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg)
PF – Amare Stoudemire (25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
SF – Grant Hill (13.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.9 apg)
SG – Raja Bell (11.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PG – Steve Nash (16.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 11.1 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Leandro Barbosa
F - Boris Diaw
I am going to pose the same question I have had since I first heard the announcement; what prompted the Phoenix Suns Team Owner Robert Sarver to hire Steve Kerr as General Manager? The Suns are now without Mike D'Antoni, and Shawn Marion, instead they have Terry Porter and Shaquille O'Neal. The decline starts this season.

Golden State Warriors
Coach: Don Nelson
Projected Finish: 49-33
Projected Starters
C – Andris Biedrins (10.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
PF – Al Harrington (13.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.6 apg)
SF – Corey Maggettee (22.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SG – Stephen Jackson (20.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.1 apg)
PG – Marcus Williams (5.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.6 apg)
Key Reserves
F - Ronny Turiaf
G - Monta Ellis
Monta, Monta, Monta! Oh what you have done! Not only does Ellis miss the first two months of the season after his moped escapades, he opens a divide between team ownership and management. Ellis will be suspended without pay while he rehabs, a move Chris Mullin Warriors General Manager was against. You can never count out a Don Nelson team, but right now Golden State is a ship without a rudder.

Los Angeles Clippers
Coach: Mike Dunleavy
Projected Finish: 35-47
Projected Starters
C – Chris Kaman (15.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 0.6 bpg)
PF – Marcus Camby (9.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 3.6 bpg)
SF – Al Thornton (12.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SG – Eric Gordon (Rookie)
PG – Baron Davis (21.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 7.6 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Ricky Davis
F/C - Brian Skinner
Mike Dunleavy loves to come off as victimized. He still can't stop whining about losing Elton Brand. This team could be a lot better than the record I have predicted for them. Lots of "ifs" though, if Chris Kaman truly had a breakout year last season. If Al Thornton, shows more of what he showed in his rookie year. If Baron Davis and Dunleavy can maintain a good relationship. If Eric Gordon can have a good rookie campaign.

Sacramento Kings
Coach: Reggie Theus
Projected Finish: 30-52
Projected Starters
C – Brad Miller (13.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg)
PF – Mikki Moore (8.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.6 bpg)
SF – John Salmons (12.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SG – Kevin Martin (23.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.1 apg)
PG – Beno Udrih (12.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.3 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Bobby Jackson
F/G - Francisco Garcia
The Maloof brothers own casinos, you would think they would know better than to let Tru-Warrior call their bluff. The Maloof Boys blinked and Ron Artest is now in Houston. Reggie Theus was a pleasant surprise in his first year as coach. Beno Udrih was the steal of the campaign, and Brad Miller is one of the most underrated centers in the Association. K-Mart will again score a lot of points, but this team is back at square one.

NBA Preview; Central Division

Cleveland Cavaliers
Coach: Mike Brown
Projected Finish: 57-25
Projected Starters
C – Zydrunas Ilgauskas (14.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg)
PF – Ben Wallace (4.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg)
SF – LeBron James (30.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.2 apg)
SG – Wally Szczerbiak (11.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.4 apg)
PG – Mo Williams (17.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 6.3 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Delonte West
F - Anderson Varejao
G - Daniel Gibson
This team is better than the team that went to the NBA Finals in 2007. Cleveland General Manager Danny Ferry finally addressed the team's deficiencies in the back court with the acquisition of Mo Williams. Do not be surprised to eventually see two changes eventually in the starting lineup. A back court of West and Williams will be the Cavaliers future, with Gibson as sixth man. If all is truly forgiven between Varejao and Cleveland, he will eventually be the starting power forward on this team.

Detroit Pistons
Coach: Michael Curry
Projected Finish: 54-28
Projected Starters
C – Rasheed Wallace (12.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg)
PF – Amir Johnson (3.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.5 bpg)
SF – Tayshaun Prince (13.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.3 apg)
SG – Richard Hamilton (17.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.2 apg)
PG – Chauncey Billups (17.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 6.8 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Rodney Stuckey
F - Antonio McDyess
F - Jason Maxiell
I can not tell you how many e-mails I have received, telling me not to overlook Detroit. Does this look like I am over looking the Pistons? However, by standing still they are now looking up at Cleveland as the new power in the NBA Central Division.

Indiana Pacers
Coach: Jim O'Brien
Projected Finish: 46-36
Projected Starters
C – Jeff Foster (6.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 0.7 bpg)
PF – Troy Murphy (12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF – Mike Dunleavy (19.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg)
SG – Danny Granger (19.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 apg)
PG – T.J. Ford (12.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 6.1 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Jarrett Jack
G - Brandon Rush
C - Roy Hibbert
C - Rasho Nesterovic
I like what Larry Bird has done with this team in the off-season. Ford is one of the toughest players in the Association. The rookies will help become the core of a good young team. Shawne Williams gone, and Tinsley surely soon to follow, this team will be going places.

Chicago Bulls
Coach: Vinny Del Negro
Projected Finish: 40-42
Projected Starters
C – Joakim Noah (6.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg)
PF – Drew Gooden (12.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg)
SF – Luol Deng (17.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SG – Kirk Hinrich (11.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.0 apg)
PG – Derrick Rose (Rookie)
Key Reserves
G - Ben Gordon
F - Andres Nocioni
G - Larry Hughes
Vinny Del Negro? As coach? Why? Is John Paxson after a promising start at the helm of the Bulls turning into a clone of his brother Jim, one of the worst General Managers in the history of the Association? Hughes, hurt yet again, Rookie Rose also injured. Very strange mix of players, seems transient, does Paxson have a deal in the works?

Milwaukee Bucks
Coach: Scott Skiles
Projected Finish: 32-50
Projected Starters
C – Andrew Bogut (14.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 0.8 bpg)
PF – Charlie Villanueva (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.5 bpg)
SF – Richard Jefferson (22.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.1 apg)
SG – Michael Redd (22.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.4 apg)
PG – Luke Ridnour (6.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 4.0 apg)
Key Reserves
G - Charlie Bell
G - Joe Alexander
New Bucks General Manager John Hammond and new coach Scott Skiles have their work cut out for them with this rebuild project. How will Jefferson, who last year became the number one option for the Nets deal with being at least second, after Redd. He might be third option after Bogut.

Monday, October 27, 2008

NBA Preview; Northwest Division

Utah Jazz
Coach: Jerry Sloan
Projected Finish: 57-25
Projected Starters
C – Mehmut Okur (14.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 0.4 bpg)
PF – Carlos Boozer (21.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 0.5 bpg)
SF – Andrei Kirilenko (11.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.0 apg)
SG – Ronnie Brewer (12.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PG – Deron Williams (18.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 10.5 apg)
Key Reserves
F- Paul Milsap (8.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.0 apg)
F- C.J. Miles (5.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.9 apg)
Deron Williams will start the season on the injured list, but should be back after the first two or three regular season games. They have two Team USA members in Boozer and Williams, plus the always dangerous Andrei Kirilenko. Amazingly Jerry Sloan's message never gets old, even though he is the longest tenured coach in the Association.

Portland Trail Blazers
Coach: Nate McMillan
Projected Finish: 50-32
Projected Starters
C – Greg Oden (DNP injury)
PF – LaMarcus Aldridge (17.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
SF –Travis Outlaw (13.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.3 apg)
SG –Brandon Roy (19.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.8 apg)
PG – Steve Blake (8.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 5.1 apg)
Key Reserves
G- Jerryd Bayless (Rookie)
C- Joel Przybilla ( 4.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
They were the "feel good" story of the first half of last season, before fading down the stretch and missing the playoffs. A healthy Greg Oden, along with rookies Bayless, Sergio Rodriguez, and Nicolas Batum should give the Blazers a much better end result this season.

Denver Nuggets
Coach: George Karl
Projected Finish: 48-34
Projected Starters
C – Nene (5.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.3 bpg)
PF – Kenyon Martin (12.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
SF – Carmelo Anthony (25.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.4 apg)
SG – Allen Iverson (26.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 7.1 apg)
PG – Anthony Carter (7.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.5 apg)
Key Reserves
F/G - Linas Kleiza (11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg. 1.2 apg)
G- J.R. Smith (12.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.7 apg)
The Denver Nuggets are a team that may be heading on the downward slope of the NBA mountain. This team has some major issues. When times are going good, you can not find a better teammate than A.I. However when things turn sour, Iverson's attitude usually does also. Nene is recovering from cancer, K-Mart has had an attitude since playing for Bobby Huggins. Carmelo looked like he would end up in another city, at the beginning of the Summer. Team management assured Anthony, and his agent no move would be made this season. Unlike Utah's Jerry Sloan, George Karl's message does get lost after a few seasons. Milwaukee, and Seattle can attest to that.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Coach: P.J. Carlesimo
Projected Finish: 24-58
Projected Starters
C – Nick Collison (9.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 0.8bpg)
PF – Chris Wilcox (13.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 0.6 bpg)
SF – Jeff Green (10.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SG – Kevin Durant (20.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg)
PG – Earl Watson (10.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 6.8 apg)
Key Reserves
G- Russell Westbrook (Rookie)
F/C- Johan Petro (6.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.6 bpg)
Could somebody please tell David Stern OKC is not in the Northwest? "The Team Formerly Known As The Seattle SuperSonics" have a lot of young talent on their roster. However it will take some time for them to become a cohesive unit. P.J. Carlesimo may not be the right coach to take this group to the next level.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Coach: Randy Wittman
Projected Finish: 22-60
Projected Starters
C – Al Jefferson (21.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg)
PF – Kevin Love (Rookie)
SF – Ryan Gomes (12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 apg)
SG – Mike Miller (16.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.4 apg)
PG – Randy Foye (13.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.2 apg)
Key Reserves
G- Sebastain Telfair (9.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 5.9 apg)
G/F-Corey Brewer (5.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 apg)
Anoter team where the individual pieces are greater than the combined sum. There is talent on the T-Wolves roster, as they head into year two of the post Garnett era. Love will bust his tail, Miller is a talent, but again this is a long term project not an over night success story. Randy Wittman, is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, but he is not a head coach. He would have problems leading people out of a phone booth.

NBA Preview; Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics
Coach: Doc Rivers
Projected Finish: 60-22
Projected Starters
C – Kendrick Perkins (6.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5bpg)
PF – Kevin Garnett (18.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.2bpg)
SF – Paul Pierce (19.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.5 apg)
SG – Ray Allen (17.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg)
PG – Rajon Rondo (10.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.1 apg)
Key Reserves
G-Eddie House (7.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)
F-Leon Powe (7.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.3 bpg)
The reigning NBA Champs are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. They will miss the defense and clutch shooting of James Posey, who signed a free agent contract with the New Orleans Hornets. Boston is helping that rookie swing man Bill Walker can help fill the void that Posey's absence has created.

Philadelphia 76ers
Coach: Mo Cheeks
Projected Finish: 52-30
Projected Starters
C –Samuel Dalembert (10.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.3 bpg)
PF – Elton Brand (17.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg)
SF –Thaddeus Young (8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.8 apg)
SG –Andre Iguodala (19.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.8 apg)
PG – Andre Miller (17.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.9 apg)
Key Reserves
G- Louis Williams ( 11.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.2 apg)
C- Theo Ratliff ( 4.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg)
The acquisition of forward Elton Brand, has made the Sixers the hot pick in the East for the upcoming season. Questions on center Samuel Dalembert's health remain an issue, as he has a shoulder strain which has bothered him all preseason. Theo Ratliff is incredibly happy to be back in Philadelphia, but what does he have left in the tank? The Sixers challenged the Detroit Pistons big time in the first round of the Eastern Conference Finals. The addition of Brand now puts them in elite staus in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto Raptors
Coach: Sam Mitchell
Projected Finish: 48-34
Projected Starters
C – Jermaine O'Neal (13.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
PF – Chris Bosh (22.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg)
SF – Jamario Moon (8.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SG – Anthony Parker (12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PG – Jose Calderon (11.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 8.3 apg)
Key Reserves
C/F- Andrea Bargnani (10.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg. 0.5 bpg)
F- Kris Humphries (5.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.4 bpg)
The Raptors decided that Jose Calderon, would be their team's starting point guard, so T.J. Ford proved to be expendable. In a trade that should help both teams Toronto traded Ford to the Indiana Pacers for disgruntled big man Jermaine O'Neal. O'Neal should be part of a very strong front court alongside Chris Bosh. Calderon, and Anthony Parker, make up for one of the better back courts in the Association. With Bargnani coming off the bench Sam Mitchell has instant offense coming off the bench.

New Jersey Nets
Coach: Lawrence Frank
Projected Finish: 30-52
Projected Starters
C – Josh Boone (8.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg)
PF – Yi Jianlian (8.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg)
SF – Bobby Simmons (7.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.1 apg)
SG – Vince Carter (21.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.1 apg)
PG – Derin Harris (10.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.7 apg)
Key Reserves
G- Keyon Dooling (8.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.8 apg)
F/C- Stromile Swift (6.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg)
The New Jersey Nets remind me of one of my favorite bits from the Late Great George Carlin. He talked about discovering something in your refrigerator that you could not identify. Is it meat or is it cake? It's meat-cake! The Nets are not a contending team, nor really a rebuilding team, they are meat-cake. It will be a long cold winter at the Izod Center.

New York Knicks
Coach: Mike D'Antoni
Projected Finish: 27-55
Projected Starters
C – Zach Randolph (17.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 0.2 bpg)
PF – David Lee (10.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 0.4 bpg)
SF – Quentin Richardson (8.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.8 apg)
SG – Chris Duhon (5.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 4.0 apg)
PG – Jamal Crawford (20.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.0 apg)
Key Reserves
G- Nate Robinson (12.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg)
G- Stephon Marbury (13.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.7 apg)
The good news is the New York Knicks may have already bottomed out. The bad news is it may take eons for this team to reach sea level. The "Zeke Era" is over in Gotham but it is going to take Team President Donnie Walsh, and new head coach Mike D'Antoni, lots of time and lots of effort to make the Knicks respectable again. Starting lineup is still in flux, Marbury could end up being the starter at point. If you look at the Knicks as individual players, there is talent on the roster. But when it is combined they become one of the most dysfunctional families in the Association.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Top NBA Rookies For 2008-09

Every year, hope springs eternal for all 32 of the NBA teams who are in the quest for the NBA title. Besides the veterans, you have the rookies to consider as they attempt to form a cohesive unit in that quest. Probably the biggerst question that comes to people's minds these days is this: which rookies will have the biggest impact on their team and in the league? I did my research - which consists of daily basketball tips from various sources, hunhches that I tend to stick with and plenty of Red Bull - and have come up with my Top 10 NBA rookies for this season. And they are...

1- Michael Beasley, forward, Miami Heat. What? No Derrick Rose, you say? The conventional wisdom says Rose should be #1, but consider that Beasley is on a team that has issues getting the ball throuigh the hoop, points-wise. Rebounding wasn't exactly the Heat's strong suit, either. Beasley can score, I think we can all agree on that. He can clean some glass, as well. Once he learns the nuances of NBA defenses, he should be a monster. Unless other things happen, Beasley should be the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year.

2- Derrick Rose, guard, Chicago Bulls. Rose, as we already know, has mad skills at guard. But part of the problem - through no fault of Rose's - is the abundance of guards up in Chicago (Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Thabo Sefolosha, Larry Hughes). Hughes is injured so it's actually 4 for right now. Hard to determine if Rose is a point guard or shooting guard; I expect him to get playing time at both positions. and he will get plaenty of playing time, as one would expect from such a high draft pick; after all, this is the Chicago Bulls, after all.

3- O.J. Mayo, guard, Memphis Grizzlies. Mayo can score, that much we know. but that only takes you only so far if all you do is jumpers, as opposed to driving to the hoop. Based on that alone, he will have his ups and downs, scoring-wise. But one thing is for sure - Mayo definitely has upside. And the Grizzlies have a decent duo in Mayo and Rudy Gay. If Marc Gasol can contribute in a meaningful way, then the Grizzlies will be playoff contenders - and make Michael Heisley look like a genius.

4- Greg Oden, center, Portland Trail Blazers. Last season doesn't count, so Oden gets a pass. Just remember that his preseason has been average and he is coming back from knee surgery. It'll take some time, but once Oden catches up to the speed of the game - mentally and physically - he should be a beast.

5- Kevin Love, forward, Minnesota Timberwolves. If making ridiculous shots from all over the place (go to Youtube for the clips) was a prerequisite for NBA success, Love would be a perennial All-Star. But his talent (not the aforementioned talent) is why Minnesota drafted him. He's a banger and will probably score most of his points from inside the paint. However, he needs some tutoring in being a defensive enforcer as he isn't there just yet. While he's at it, losing a few pounds can't hurt, either.

6- Eric Gordon, guard, Los Angeles Clippers. Gordon is a strong guard for his size, which will serve him in his initial role as probably the first player off the bench. He needs to take "good" shots; but to his credit, he isn't afraid to take it to the rim, either. Depending on how the Clippers do this season will determine whether Gordon will remain the sixth man or will start. Because this is the Clippers, I expect him to start eventually.

7- Russell Westbrook, point guard, Oklahoma City Thunder. By default more than anything else, he will start the majority of games for the Thunder. What's good about him is that he will make his teammates - especially Kevin Durant and Jeff Green - better. He does, however, need to learn to score. He reminds me in a lot of ways of T.J. Ford, but without the scoring. I expect him to come into his own probably in his second season with Oklahoma City, as the growing pains will hit him early and often.

8- Brook Lopez, center, New Jersey Nets. Lopez can score and rebound for sure. And so far this season, he has even played some defense at the NBA level, which begs the question: does Lopez start or come off the bench? The Nets are in rebuilding mode, so I expect Lopez to start around the 45-50 game juncture of the season. The Nets' iffy frontcourt may push the timetable for Lopez starting up, however.

9- Rudy Fernandez, shooting guard, Portland Trail Blazers. Fernandez is what I would call "NBA-ready" already, evidenced by his 15 points, 5 boards, 7 assists, 6 steals but also 6 turnovers. So he obviously has game. With Martell Webster out for awhile, you can expect Rudy to get some decent playing time and may even start on occasion. He will remind people of Manu Ginobili - which isn't a bad thing up in Portland.

10- Marc Gasol, center, Memphis Grizzlies. He has a lot of the attributes that his brother Pau possesses - a high basketball IQ, can pass the ball well for a big man, can score and defend and has the unfair advantage of playing pro ball in Spain. By default, he will start more than most rookies from this draft.

There's my Top 10...what's yours? Let us know what you think and submit your personal list of top 10 NBA rookies.