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ROOKIE REPORT
jennings_newst1.jpg
Brandon Jennings will get a national TV showcase this Friday on ESPN.
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Rookie Rankings: Jennings proves he's primetime-worthy

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
Posted Nov 25 2009 4:15PM

Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings has reached the point where TV networks are working around his schedule.

This Friday, ESPN has switched its lineup, dropping a Suns-Wolves game (and Steve Nash-Jonny Flynn matchup, no less) in order to show the Bucks at Thunder matchup (9:30 p.m. ET).

tune_in_bucks_thunder.jpg

No doubt Mr. Jennings had something to do with that. The rookie has grabbed the nation's attention by averaging 24.2 points -- ninth among all players -- and, oh yeah, dropping 55 on the Warriors back on Nov. 14.

It's not every day the Bucks play on the World Wide Leader -- it's their first ESPN game since Jan. 11, 2008 -- so in case you haven't been lucky enough to catch the 20-year-old in action, here's your chance.

NBA.com's Rookie Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Wednesday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for Drew Packham, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on Twitter. For past week's rankings, click here.

1. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
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1234.624.24.35.71.00.2.462.475.772
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 10
Jennings is human after all. In the Bucks' 112-98 loss to the Spurs on Tuesday, Jennings went just 6-for-21 from the field, finishing with 12 points. For most rookies, that would be a solid game, but Jennings isn't most rookies. "A lot of teams are starting to trap a lot, and teams are starting to be more physical," Jennings said. "They're not leaving me on pick-and-roll situations; a lot of the big guys are staying with me." With Evans nipping at his heels (the Kings guard has scored 20 or more in seven straight games), Jennings may need to become superhuman again to keep the top spot.

2. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
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1235.319.04.64.81.40.4.448.346.775
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 4
Memphis fans got an up-close look this week at what could have been. Last June, the Grizzlies took UConn center Hasheem Thabeet with the No. 2 pick, while University of Memphis guard fell to the Kings with the fourth pick. Thabeet has foundered on the bench, while Evans has thrived in Sacramento. "The potential is enormous," Kings assistant Pete Carril told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "When you look at him, you say: 'Holy God.'" Despite Evans' success (he scored 28 on 10-for-18 shooting in the Kings' 116-105 loss in Memphis), The Grizzlies are sticking to their guns. "At the end of the day, we chose to improve our team with size and shot blocking," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "I'm still confident that Thabeet will pan out."

3. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves
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1428.413.62.63.31.10.1.447.300.851
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 6
If things had worked out differently, Flynn may have ended up a Buck. Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News explains that the Bucks were all set to take Flynn over Jennings with the 10th pick -- had he been available. As we know, the Wolves took Flynn, who has become bogged down a bit trying to figure out the triangle offense installed by new coach Kurt Rambis. Lawrence explains that one GM sees a similarity to a time when Jason Kidd played briefly in Dallas under Jim Cleamons, another disciple of the triangle. "We'd watch Kidd try to perform in that offense, instead of running up and down the floor, and we'd say, 'Thank the good Lord,'" said the GM. "It's not the right offense for Jonny Flynn, either."

4. Darren Collison, New Orleans Hornets
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1119.89.92.03.70.70.0.415.333.933
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 21
Chris Paul may be sidelined, but he's making his presence felt with the Hornets' rookie point guard. "I try to talk to him all the time, and it's like I can never say enough," Paul told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "You only get one rookie year, and you have take full advantage of it." So far, Collison's taking advantage. In the five games as starter, Collison has averaged 14.0 points and 5.3 assists while helping the Hornets win three of five. "I'm trying to take everything in he says every day," Collison said. "It might be a lot of information, but he's one of the best point guards, and he's definitely been a blessing. I'm appreciative of everything he's told me."

5. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets
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1421.69.41.73.21.00.0.527.500.862
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 18
Considering how well Lawson has played as Chauncey Billups' backup, it's easy to forget the Nuggets' third point guard. Anthony Carter is set to return any day now from a strained hip, but coach George Karl is fine with the logjam at the point. "I think the situation we have is we have a great point starter, we have a great backup and we have the best third point guard in basketball," Karl told the Denver Post. "No matter how Ty and A.C. pan out (in playing time), they are the best third point guard in basketball. I look at it as an asset. They are all good leaders. They are all good teammates. Everybody seems that they want to make this ugly, and it isn't ugly. It's good. It's good for this team."

6. Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets
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1018.713.02.00.80.90.0.466.390.720
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 43
A week into the season pundits were proclaiming 37th pick DeJuan Blair the steal of the draft. Or was it 44th pick Chase Budinger? Well, we may have a "new" contender for the title, and his name is Marcus Thornton. After being inactive the first five games of the season, With Byron Scott's firing in New Orleans, Thornton has seen a . In three games this week, the shooting guard out of LSU averaged 21.3 points in 28.0 minutes per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. Oh yeah, the Hornets have won three of their last four. Looks like a steal to me.

7. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
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1330.210.22.85.21.50.2.476.438.750
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 7
In the Warriors' win in Dallas on Tuesday, Monta Ellis did the heavy lifting, but it was the rookie who took charge down the stretch. Curry scored seven straight points in a 14-2 fourth-quarter run, sinking a pair of free throws, the go-ahead triple with 2:20 left and the dagger -- a runner over Dirk Nowitzki -- with just over a minute left. With just six players, Curry had one of his best games, finishing with a season-high 18 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. "He's coming down and taking a shot without worrying if he should have taken the shot," assistant coach Keith Smart told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier in the week. "He's being aggressive. If you err on the side of aggression, it's going to work itself out."

8. Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets
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1428.711.25.82.10.60.0.363.286.656
Last Week: 10 | Drafted: 11
Through Tuesday, there have been 10 double-doubles by rookies. Williams has four of them and no other player has more than one. With so many injuries, the 0-14 Nets have called upon Williams to contribute and he's done an admirable job on the boards while playing anywhere from the point to power forward. On the season, Williams is fourth among rookies in scoring (11.2 ppg) and just this week took over first in rebounding (5.8 rpg).

9. Omri Casspi, Sacramento Kings
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1222.99.43.71.10.90.3.523.429.458
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 23
The first Israeli-born player in the NBA had another first this week -- his first ejection. Against the Grizzlies (and Iranian-born Hamed Haddadi, with whom Casspi posed for pictures before the game), Casspi was whistled for his second technical after getting tangled up with Jamaal Tinsley (who was pinning the rookie's arm). "That's the first time in my life to get ejected from a game," Casspi told the Sacramento Bee. "I hope it's not going to happen again. I'm just sorry it happened." The good news for Casspi is a return to the top 10 after averaging 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in three games this week.

10. Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets
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1318.78.73.21.40.50.2.421.354.667
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 44
Just how important is Budinger to the Rockets' success? In the six games the Arizona product has scored in double digits, the Rockets are 6-0. In the seven games in which he has not scored in double digits, the Rockets are 2-5. (Budinger also missed the Rockets' Nov. 4 game against the Lakers in which -- you guessed it -- Houston lost.)

Honorable Mention: James Harden, Thunder: Has averaged 17.5 points in last four games, scoring in double digits in all four. Also had eight steals in that span, which is more likely to earn him playing time; Sam Young, Grizzlies: Has averaged 9.2 points in last five games; Derrick Brown, Bobcats: Scored 13 points and was the catalyst for the Bobcats' 104-88 win over the Pacers; Serge Ibaka, Thunder: had 11 points, 13 boards and five blocks in loss to Lakers

Dropped out: DeJuan Blair, Taj Gibson, Wesley Matthews, Toney Douglas

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