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ROOKIE REPORT
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Brandon Jennings led all rookies with 8.2 assists per game in Las Vegas.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

Rookie Rankings: How they stack up after Summer League

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
Posted Jul 21 2009 11:09AM

It's early. Very early.

And not only is it early, but it's Summer League. As a point of reference, take a look back at the top four scorers from the 2008 NBA Summer League: Jerryd Bayless (29.8 ppg), Donte Greene (22.6 ppg), Quincy Douby (22.3 ppg) and Alando Tucker (21.6 ppg).

How did those four fare in 2009? Tucker finished as the highest scorer -- averaging 4.6 points -- so we have to take the last two weeks with a grain of salt.

Note: This week's rankings -- my debut with NBA.com -- take into account only how the rookies performed in Summer League action. They are not a ranking based on how I think they will finish the season.

Overall Rankings - Summer League

1. Blake Griffin, F, L.A. Clippers
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
5 34.6 19.2 10.8 3.2 1.0 .4 .500 .143 .459
Drafted: 1
Blake Griffin wasted little time proving he's the real deal. Griffin was a man among boys in Las Vegas (granted, against guys who may not soon -- or ever -- see an NBA roster), averaging a double-double (19.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg) in the Clippers' five games. No wonder ESPN.com's J.A. Adande is already wondering whether Griffin will go down as "one of the greatest No. 1 picks ever." If Las Vegas was any indication, that may just happen.

2. Jonny Flynn, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
5 27.8 15.0 2.4 7.4 .8 0.0 .480 .583 .909
Drafted: 6
Who needs Ricky Rubio when you have Jonny Flynn? The Timberwolves' second point-guard pick looked like a starter (and talked like one, too, in this NBA TV interview), showing off his unbelievable quickness while averaging 15.0 points and 7.4 assists. Flynn was in control and may just end up being the better of the Wolves' two rookie point guards.

3. Tyreke Evans, G, Sacramento Kings
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
5 30.2 19.2 6.2 4.2 1.0 .2 .403 .286 .784
Drafted: 4
Outside of Griffin, no one looked more NBA-ready than Evans. His best game came in a showdown with Brandon Jennings in which Evans had 33 points (getting to the line 19 times), nine boards and seven assists. The Bucks got the win, but Evans' quickness and defensive mindset impressed many in Las Vegas.

4. James Harden, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
9 27.9 14.7 3.3 2.4 1.6 0.2 .506 .375 .811
Drafted: 3
One thing is clear after the Thunder's Summer League stints in Orlando and Las Vegas: Harden will compete for the starting two-guard spot. Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said recently that Harden will have to fight for minutes, but you have to think Harden will be able to steal the minutes from last year's starters (Kyle Weaver and Thabo Sefolosha).

5. Brandon Jennings, G, Milwaukee Bucks
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
5 32.4 14.6 2.6 8.2 3.6 0.2 .379 .429 .778
Drafted: 10
The Bucks went 4-1 in Las Vegas thanks in large part to Jennings' pass-first mentality. Jennings led all rookies with 8.2 assists per game, but his loud-talking play caught the attention of at least one team exec. "He better keep his mouth shut," the anonymous player personnel director told NBA.com's Art Garcia. "He's a wise ass. And what's going to happen is he's going to go into the lane and one of those monsters is going to knock him on his ass and he's going to be sorry he was a smart aleck. He's been that way most of the games." Good thing he's got this guy to help him out.

6. Ty Lawson, G, Denver Nuggets
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
5 35.8 16.6 7.0 3.6 0.6 1.0 .397 .154 .771
Drafted: 18
After two brutal games, in which he was just 1-for-15 from the floor, Lawson picked up steam. In the Nuggets' final three games (all wins), Lawson averaged 23.6 points on 57 percent shooting and looked like the quick-yet-polished point the Nuggets traded for on draft night to back up Chauncey Billups.

7. Dante Cunningham, F, Portland Trail Blazers
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
4 31.5 18.3 5.8 0.8 1.5 0.5 .476 .000 .722
Drafted: 33
With as much depth as the Trail Blazers have, it's unlikely Cunningham will have much impact in his rookie season. But that didn't stop Portland's second-round pick from showing off his potential in Las Vegas. Cunningham's performance -- the Villanova product was fifth among rookies with an 18.6 scoring average -- came as no shock to teammate Jerryd Bayless. "I've said it from the start -- I think Dante has a chance to be special," the point guard said earlier this week.

8. DeJuan Blair, F, San Antonio Spurs
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
3 25.0 16.3 8.7 0.0 0.7 0.3 .529 .000 .813
Drafted: 37
Dropping into the second round may end up a blessing in disguise for Blair. Not only will the Pitt All-American join a perennial contender in San Antonio, but he may be able to contribute right away. Blair averaged 16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in three games and could prove to be a steal for the Spurs, who could use his toughness off the bench.

9. Austin Daye, C, Detroit Pistons
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
5 33.8 17.0 8.8 1.0 1.4 0.4 .471 .294 .762
Drafted: 15
The No. 15 overall pick answered questions about his bulk and athleticism (or lack thereof) by averaging 17 points and seven rebounds as the Pistons went 4-1. Still, it was the Pistons' second-round pick, DaJuan Summers, that may have had the more surprising week. Summers, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward out of Georgetown, led the team in scoring (18.0 ppg).

10. Tyler Hansbrough, F, Indiana Pacers
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
5 25.3 18.2 5.6 2.0 1.0 0.4 .444 .400 .854
Drafted: 13
Hansbrough is out to prove he's more than just an inside presence. At North Carolina, Hansbrough took just 12 treys in his four-year career. In Orlando, the 6-foot-9 forward hit two of his five attempts and while averaging 18.2 ppg in the Pacers' five games. "He can really shoot," Pacers teammate Roy Hibbert told the USA Today. "People don't really know that. Obviously, with me in the post, it sucked people in and he hit 3s. That'll widen up the floor for us."

Other notable performers: DeMar DeRozan, Raptors -- Looked like the real deal, showing quickness while averaging 17.0 points on 49 percent shooting; Marcus Thornton, Hornets -- Only played three games, but led all rookies in scoring with a 20.7 average; Stephen Curry, Warriors -- His 2.4 steals per game overshadowed his poor shooting (.325 percent from the field); Rodrigue Beaubois, Mavericks -- the athletic guard had 34 points and eight assists in a win over Houston; Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies -- The No. 2 pick looked disinterested and outmatched. Averaged 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds and it's hard seeing him having much impact offensively for the Grizzlies.

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