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ROOKIE REPORT
oden608.jpg

Rookie Rankings: Oden still a work in progress

By Dave McMenamin, NBA.com
Posted Nov 26 2008 10:27PM

Greg Oden, I don't know how to quit you.

For anybody taking the time to read the Rookie Rankings and e-mail me afterwards, Oden is always newsworthy in this space -- whether his exploits are positive or negative.

Oden is like a Willie Nelson ballad, always on the minds of the first-year followers out there.

I feel compelled to include some sort of update on the big lug every week in the same way that whatever television station is airing a PGA event always has to show Tiger Woods' score when it puts up a leaderboard graphic because whether Tiger is in first or 50th, viewers just want to know.

The fact of the matter is, the 7-0, 285-pounder's career has gotten off to a slower start than the United States' stimulus package plan. (That $600 a person spent on iPods and flights to Cancun is going to turn the economy around any day now ...)

Oden played 13 minutes against the Lakers on Opening Night, scored zero points, grabbed five rebounds and rehabbed a foot injury for two weeks to get the chance to play 16 minutes against the Heat, score three points and grab two rebounds.

Line of the Week
D.J. Augustin (CHA)
Nov. 24 vs. PHI
25 points, 11 ast, 5 reb
8-11 FG, 2-3 3-FG

To every basketball fan's delight, he found a rhythm for a six-day period spanning Nov. 14-19. Oden put up 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks on the Hornets; 13, eight and three on the Wolves; 22, 10 and two on the Warriors; and 11, 10 and three on the Bulls.

He wasn't just a tall dude who was only interesting because he looked 40 years older than he actually is and owned a dog named Charles Barkley McLovin anymore.

He was making up for lost time. He was a player. He was the future.

That is until of course his most recent three-game dearth of production with seven points, eight boards and zero blocks against the Kings, followed by five, one and zero against the Suns and capped by three, six and zero to the Kings again.

Oden's 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 boards per game average scream mediocre. No offense to the Prince of Cameroon, but Luc Mbah a Moute has better numbers than Oden. Come on, that's unreal.

Now, I realize that Sacramento and Phoenix both play at a faster pace than suits Oden's game, and he got saddled with foul trouble in all three contests, but aren't the really special ones supposed to rise above stuff like that?

After Shaquille O'Neal racked up 19 points and 17 rebounds in his first time going head to head with G.O., the Daddy was less than impressed with the kid that looks like the Granddaddy.

"I'm the Shogun," O'Neal said. "And before you get to the Shogun, you gotta go through a lot of ninjas. He has to go through Dwight Howard and Yao Ming, and you know, by that time I'll be outta here."

In other words, Oden still has a lot of work to do to even make an impact on the Rookie Rankings, let alone to enter the conversation of the best centers in the league.

Korleone Young Drop of the Week: A. Morrow GSW (-6)
Eddie Gottlieb Rise of the Week: J. Thompson SAC (+2)

Overall Rankings - Week 4

1. Derrick Rose, G, Chicago
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
15 37.7 19.0 3.9
5.7
1.1 0.2 .485 .368 .847
Last Week: 1| Drafted: 1
Even though Rose missed the game winner in Utah on Monday and Larry Hughes had to corral the long rebound to finish the game with a cash jumper for the Bulls, Chicago wouldn't have had any business being in the game if it wasn't for the No. 1 pick. Rose converted three big buckets down the stretch to close the gap and lead his team to a win in Salt Lake City where the Jazz lose about as often as Kendra from The Girls Next Door says something intelligent.

2. O.J. Mayo, G, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
14
39.2
20.6
4.6 2.3 1.3 0.1 .433 .378 .925
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 3
Great scorers whose shots aren't falling in basketball are a lot like great baseball teams that know how to manufacture runs when they aren't getting hits out of the lineup. Guys like Gilbert Arenas, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade all know how to get to the free throw line to pad their totals when there's a lid on the basket. O.J. Mayo is showing signs of having that same ability, using his explosiveness to get 10 trips to the foul line against Utah in a game where he shot 6-for-17 overall from the field. It's not just getting to the foul line either, you have to make them, and Mayo is one of the best at converting with a .925 mark from the charity stripe where he's made his last 24 attempts.

3. Michael Beasley, F, Miami
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
14 29.9 14.8 5.5 1.4 0.7 0.6 .451 .333 .826
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 2
Beasley recovered from a two-game scoring drought where he was held to single digits each night with 17 points against the Pacers followed by 14 against the Rockets. Now, if he could only hit the boards. B-Easy hasn't registered double-digit rebounds yet this season after averaging 12.4 boards a game at Kansas State last season.

4. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
14 29.2 12.0 7.2 1.1 0.6 0.9 .577 .000 .774
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 48 by L.A. Lakers in 2007
Want further evidence of how good this rookie class is so far? The Hawks' Al Horford averaged 10.1 points on .499 shooting to go with 9.7 rebounds and was runner up to Kevin Durant for top rookie honors last season. Gasol is averaging more points with a much better shooting percentage and is only a couple of boards behind Horford and yet there are three rookies better than him this year, not just one.

5. Jason Thompson, F, Sacramento
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
16 27.0 11.4 7.0 1.0 0.9 0.5
.540
.000 .653
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 12
I was ready to boost JT all the way into the top three until he went out and dropped an 0-for-3, zero-points line against Portland. To me, that one game might ruin his Rookie of the Year campaign. How can you take home the hardware if you had a game where you went o'fer? I had the same argument last night with my roommate about Davidson's Stephen Curry. To me, Curry's hopes of being named National Player of the Year are dashed after he went scoreless in 30-plus minutes against Loyola. That's just how I see it.

6. Luc Mbah a Moute, F, Milwaukee
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
16 29.7 9.8
7.6
0.8 1.0 0.6 .439 .000 0.742
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 37
It wasn't the best week statistically for Prince Harming, but he still cleaned the glass, defended and did the little things that keeps him in Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles' favor.

7. Rudy Fernandez, G-F, Portland
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
15 27.2 11.6 2.9 1.9 1.1 0.3 .421 .420 .944
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 24 by Phoenix in 2007
I had the pleasure of being a panelist on NBA TV's The Beat this week alongside TNT's David Aldridge and when host Marc Fein asked us for our thoughts on the rookie class, Aldridge took the opportunity to pump up Fernandez even though the Spanish star is coming off a week where he shot just 9-for-27 from the field and saw his scoring average drop by a full two points per game. Was Aldridge misinformed? Never. The man is a breathing basketball encyclopedia. Was Aldridge stubborn? Maybe. Rudy was his Rookie of the Year prediction in our expert survey this year after all.

8. D.J. Augustin, G, Charlotte
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
13 27.7 12.5 2.2 4.3 0.5 0.0 .431 .349 .878
Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 9
Augustin crashes the party after a tremendous four-game stretch where he averaged 21.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. Charlotte coach Larry Brown decided to gamble by going small with the 6-1 Raymond Felton and 6-foot Augustin out on the floor at the same time and the bite-size backcourt has played well together.

9. Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
15 25.5 12.1 3.2 3.7 1.6 0.3 .333 .269 .836
Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 4
Newly named Thunder head coach Scott Brooks admitted to losing sleep and about five pounds since being promoted to the top of the totem pole because of the stress associated with the job. If Westbrook keeps having lines like he did against Steve Nash and the Suns -- 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals -- we'll have to start calling him "Sheep," because when Brooks can start counting on numbers like that from his rookie stud, he'll have plenty of peaceful rest.

10. Anthony Morrow, G, Golden State
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
8 23.9 13.0 3.6 0.9 0.6 0.0 .521
.556
.929
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: Undrafted
Morrow had a rough week, coming back down to earth after his dynamic 37-point debut by shooting 6-for-22 from the field over three games and seeing his playing time cut into dramatically after the Warriors traded for fellow shoot-first guard Jamal Crawford. I didn't want to drop him all the way out of the Top 10 and subject him to one-hit wonder status, but there are plenty of rookies primed to nab his spot.
RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Darrell Arthur (MEM), Bobby Brown (SAC), Mario Chalmers (MIA), Eric Gordon (LAC), George Hill (SAS), Brook Lopez (NJN), Kevin Love (MIN), JaVale McGee (WAS), Greg Oden (POR), Anthony Randolph (GSW)

Noteworthy

Love

Kevin Love (MIN) is an NBA.com contributor and a decent ball player, so this isn't meant to be a personal attack, but after a week where the big man shot 5-for-18 from the field to drop his field goal percentage to .360 and his three-point percentage to .111, you have to laugh that some analysts had him ranked as the No. 1 rookie in the league after the first week of the season.
George Hill (SAS) pumped in three straight 20-point games after I talked to Gregg Popovich about Hill?s learning curve on offense last week. He is knocking on the door to enter the Top 10.
The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: J.R. Giddens (BOS)*, Hamed Haddadi (MEM)*, Richard Hendrix (GSW)*, Nathan Jawai (TOR), Sonny Weems (DEN), D.J. White (OKC), Jawad Williams (CLE), Sun Yue (LAL)
* = assigned to D-League


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