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Jonny Flynn goes up for the game-winning shot over Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur on Monday.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

Rookie Rankings: Flynn's play vs. Jazz garners praise

By Drew Packham,
Posted Dec 16 2009 6:02PM

It was looking like another typical Jonny Flynn week -- 10-11 points a night, a few assists, a bunch of turnovers, a bunch of Wolves losses.

And then the Wolves went to Utah and the point guard had his best game yet.

Not only did Flynn have career-highs in points (28) and threes (four), but he hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds after driving past Deron Williams. Sure, Williams -- whom Flynn called "the toughest point guard I've played" -- had 38 and 13, but Flynn got the last laugh.

"Jonny had one hell of a game," Wolves center Al Jefferson said after the Wolves beat the Jazz for the second time this season. "I am really proud of him. He didn't give up."

It's been no secret that the freewheeling Flynn has struggled in coach Kurt Rambis' triangle offense, but for at least one play, it was Flynn creating off a pick-and-roll that led to a bunny in the lane to give the Wolves the win.

"At some point in time, he's going to be one of those guys who's going to be very difficult to contain either in isolation or pick-and-roll situations," Rambis said. "This entire season -- and one or two after -- are going to be growing up periods for him. So I want to give him those opportunities to see what he can do in those late-game situations.

"He delivered for us tonight."'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. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 4
If Evans can keep up his current pace, he'll become just the fourth rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. (Through 22 games, Evans is averaging exactly 20.0, 5.0 and 5.0.) The other three? Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. All three took home Rookie of the Year honors. "It feels pretty good to be mentioned with those guys in the rookie category," Evans told Andrew Nicholson of Full Court Press blog. "I have a long season and have to stay focused and just keep trying to play good basketball."

2. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 10
Jennings only had two games this week, but helped the Bucks get back to .500 with home wins over the Raptors and Blazers. In the Bucks' double-OT win over the Blazers, Jennings hit a jumper to send the game into the second extra period and had a key drive to help the Bucks put away the 108-101 win. In the two games, Jennings averaged 20.0 points and 8.5 assists, but more importantly was 7-for-12 on his 3s. In the Bucks' four previous games (all losses), he was just 5-for-24.

3. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 6
Flynn left Utah impressed by his showdown with Deron Williams. "I've played CP, I've played Nash and Baron Davis," Flynn said, referring to Chris Paul and Steve Nash. "He's the total package. Strong, great handle, can shoot the ball, comes off screen like a '2' guards and post up like Al Jefferson." And what was Deron Williams' take on Flynn's beating him to the hole for the winner? "He's fast," Williams said.

4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 7
According to Marcus Thompson of the Contra Coast Times, the Warriors have put all their players on the trading block -- including Curry. It's surprising since the Warriors turned down an offseason trade that would have landed them Amar'e Stoudemire in order to get Curry. Still, with Curry getting better with each game it shows how desperate the Warriors have become. In four games this week, Curry padded his stats by averaging 13.2 points and 3.0 steals in 32.7 minutes per game.

5. Omri Casspi, Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 23
It's been a busy week for Casspi. On Thursday, the Israeli-born forward signed autographs and joined about 200 people at a Hanukkah party put on by the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region. Then, on Friday, Casspi was on hand as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lit the menorah at the state capitol. Oh yeah, Casspi averaged 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in three games to increase his season averages.

6. Jonas Jerebko, Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 39
The Pistons are winning and the Swedish rookie is right in the middle of it. In four games this week, the scrappy forward averaged 12.5 points and 7.2 rebounds, and the Pistons had won five straight before losing to the Rockets on Tuesday. "We told Jonas he had to be aggressive; he just can't be out there," coach John Kuester told "He has to show some of those skills. ... He's capable of doing a lot for us. He changes the tempo right now, and he has done a great job. I'm very proud of the way he has played. Jonas is starting to understand what this league is all about."

7. Wesley Matthews, Utah Jazz
Last Week: 10 | Drafted: FA
In case you missed it, my colleague Steve Aschburner had a nice piece on Matthews earlier this week. In it we learned just how important Matthews' mother -- and not his father, Wes, who played in the NBA -- was to his development. "What can I say, he's my guy," Wesley's mother, Pam Moore said. "We always say, we're the 'Dynamic Duo." Mom must have been proud this week as her boy was key to the Jazz ending the Lakers' 11-game winning streak. Matthews had 19 points (13 in the first quarter with Ron Artest slacking off him) and six assists. "You got to [take shots when you're open]," Matthews said. "If I start passing them up then I just start putting more pressure on my team. They were finding me when I was open. I was just shooting it and playing ball."

8. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 18
Lawson has seen a dip in playing time and, not surprisingly, his statistics have dropped. In three games this week, Lawson averaged just 1.6 points and 3.0 assists in just 14.0 minutes per game. Coach George Karl told the Denver Post it may be that the league is adjusting to Lawson's game. "I think Ty surprised the league early," Karl said. "First time you play him, he'll surprise you with his speed. I don't think they were talking about him before, and now there's a mention. And we have to get Ty the ball a little bit better. Sometimes we play small, and all of a sudden the ball is in J.R. Smith and Melo's hands. That's on me. I need to make sure we rotate more where his speed and talent can come forward."

9. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 26
Gibson has established himself as the best rebounder of this rookie class. In his last three games, he's averaged just under 10 to raise his rookie-leading tally to 6.1 per game. Gibson is holding off Jerebko (5.4), DeJuan Blair (5.3) and Evans (5.0). Despite the Bulls' struggles (they've lost 10 of their last 12), Gibson has been one of the team's more reliable players.

10. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 3
Since scoring a career-high 26 on Dec. 7, Harden has come back to earth. In three games this week he averaged just 6.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists as the Thunder went 1-2. Still, Harden is eighth among rookies in both scoring and assists, while playing just over 20 minutes per game. Put Harden on a team where he's getting serious minutes and no doubt his numbers would be more impressive at this point.

Honorable Mention: Chase Budinger, Rockets: Made the most of his first career start (in place of suspended Trevor Ariza), scoring 16 points and grabging a career-high 12 rebounds in the Rockets' 107-96 win over the Pistons; Jrue Holiday, Sixers: Helped the Sixers end a 12-game losing streak with 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals (all career bests). For more on Holiday and the Sixers, check out John Schuhmann's analysis; Tyler Hansbrough, Pacers: Averaged 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in four games this week. DeJuan Blair, Spurs: In past two games, Blair tallied 26 points and 15 rebounds.

Dropped out: DeMar DeRozan

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