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.

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