Click here to Skip to main content
ROOKIE REPORT
oden608-012809.jpg
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Rookie Rankings: Looking at the Rookie Challenge

By Dave McMenamin, NBA.com
Posted Feb 4 2009 1:04PM

The T-Mobile Rookie Challenge rosters were announced Wednesday, meaning we now know the nine rookies given the task of trying to break the sophomores' six-game win streak in the event.

Give credit to the NBA's assistant coaches who voted for the teams and got it right. Eight of the nine rookies selected are currently in the Top 10 in the Rookie Rankings. Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Michael Beasley, Brook Lopez and Greg Oden complete the Rookies contingent.

Oden is the only player not on my list, but he's flirted with being ranked all season and has had four strong games leading into the announcement with 17.0 points and 10.8 rebounds including a perfect 7-for-7 from the field against the Clippers.

I'm OK with him making it over Mario Chalmers, Jason Thompson and Kevin Love -- the only three who should have been in the conversation.

The Sophomore team is comprised of Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Al Thornton, Thaddeus Young, Wilson Chandler, Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola.

Line of the Week
Eric Gordon (LAC)
Jan. 23 vs. OKC
41 points, 2 reb, 4 ast
12-19 FG, 5-7 3-FG, 12-14 FT

Five of nine sophs weren't on the Rookies team last year. At the time of the Rookie Challenge in New Orleans last year, I had the six new sophomores ranked fourth (Thornton), eighth (Young), 10th (Stuckey), The Next 10 (Brooks) and unranked (Chandler).

By the final Rookie Rankings of last season, I had them ranked fourth (Thornton), sixth (Young), eighth (Stuckey), The Next 10 (Brooks) and unranked (Chandler).

So, the question is, which snubbed rookies are most likely to make next year's Rookie Challenge?

Aside from Chalmers, Thompson and Love, here are five guys who could make a case:

1. Courtney Lee, ORL -- Lee's playing time has been limited, but if Keith Bogans bolts as a free agent, the minutes could be there form him to show what he can do.

2. Marreese Speights, PHI --
The embodiment of "raw." Once Speights' basketball I.Q. catches up to his athleticism, he'll be a force to watch out for.

3. J.J. Hickson, CLE --
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound chiseled forward out of NC State can't help but improve by playing with LeBron James everyday.

4. Anthony Randolph, GSW --
Some scouts think he could end up being the best player selected in the whole draft when it's all said and done.

5. D.J. Augustin, CHA --
If it wasn't for an unfortunate hamstring injury, Augustin might have already made it this year.

Korleone Young Drop of the Week: R. Fernandez POR; B. Lopez NJN (-2)
Eddie Gottlieb Rise of the Week: E. Gordon LAC; J. Thompson SAC (+2)

Overall Rankings - Week 13

1. O.J. Mayo, G, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
44
37.5
19.1
4.0 2.8 1.0 0.1 .443 .379 .869
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 3
Mayo takes over the top spot more by default than merit as his two strong games and two shaky games last week outshine Rose's two poor games.

2. Derrick Rose, G, Chicago
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
45 37.4 16.7 3.5
6.3
0.8 0.2 .457 .278 .787
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 1
Rose was 13-for-31 with nine turnovers in two Chicago losses last week. The week hasn't hurt his popularity however as it was announced on Wednesday that his Bulls No. 1 jersey is the ninth-highest seller in the league.

3. Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
45 31.0 14.4 4.3 4.8 1.4 0.2 .409 .333 .798
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 4
Westbrook filled it up with 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting against the Warriors, but stays at No. 3 because of his combined 24 points on 7-for-20 shooting in his next two games against the Clippers and Nets.

4. Eric Gordon, G, L.A. Clippers
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
44 32.0 13.7 2.3 2.4 1.0 0.4 .434 .355 .864
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 7
In response to Chicago head coach Vinny Del Negro's claim that Derrick Rose has already secured the Rookie of the Year trophy, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy had this to say in support of his first-round pick: "I don't think you can have the discussion be over. I think clearly, starting out you have Mayo and Rose as two of the top rookies, but I think Eric is coming on strong."

5. Brook Lopez, C, New Jersey
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
45 29.8 11.4 7.9 0.7 0.6
1.9
.484 .000 .822
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 10
Lopez had 15 points and eight rebounds against Tim Duncan and the Spurs but followed it up with just eight points and three rebounds against Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies in his next game.

6. Michael Beasley, F, Miami
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
42 24.5 13.2 5.2 0.9 0.6 0.4 .448 .372 .742
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 2
Beasley banged knees with an Atlanta player on Monday and the pain was so great that the No. 3 pick came out of the game after going 1-for-4 in only eight minutes of playing time. Beasley vows he will wear knee pads during games from now on.

7. Jason Thompson, F, Sacramento
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
46 25.3 10.1 6.7 0.9 0.5 0.6 .495 .000 .711
Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 12
Thompson shot 58.9 percent from the field last week as he scored in double digits in all four games but the skidding Kings dropped all four. It's nice to see Thompson making himself comfortable in the Top 10 after falling out around the time of Sacramento's coaching change.

8. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
44 30.1 10.9 7.1 1.6 0.7 1.0 .503 .000 .703
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 48 by L.A. Lakers in 2007
Gasol was stymied by the Nuggets' Nene on Tuesday, going 0-for-5 from the field and picking up four fouls that limited him to only 20 minutes of playing time in the Grizzlies' loss.

9. Mario Chalmers, G, Miami
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
43 31.3 9.5 2.5 4.6
1.8
0.1 .414 .354 0.735
Last Week: 10 | Drafted: 34
Chalmers had huge game with 20 points, six assists and three steals against the Hawks last week, helping the Heat to a crucial Southeast Division win.

10. Rudy Fernandez, G-F, Portland
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
43 26.3 10.8 3.0 2.1 0.8 0.2 .418 .388 .893
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 24 by Phoenix in 2007
I caught up with Fernandez when he played in Los Angeles last week and tried to pry his plans for the Sprite Slam Dunk out of him. He imitated a dunk, clutching an imaginary ball down between his legs and then back up behind his head. Could he have been hinting at a Steve Francisesque two-handed double clutch reverse? I certainly hope so.
RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Darrell Arthur (MEM), Roy Hibbert (IND), J.J. Hickson (CLE), George Hill (SAS), Courtney Lee (ORL), Kevin Love (MIN), Luc Mbah a Moute (MIL), Anthony Morrow (GSW), Greg Oden (POR), Marreese Speights (PHI)

Noteworthy

Love

Kevin Love (MIN) makes me wish it was a Top 11. The forward out of UCLA averaged 14.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in three Wolves wins last week and is a big reason why Minnesota has been the hottest team in the league since the clock turned to midnight to start 2009.
Anthony Morrow (GSW) captured some of his old magic with 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting against Cleveland last week until LeBron James had to go and spoil his night with a game winner at the buzzer.
There is now further evidence to support statement that says "anybody in this league can produce if given enough playing time." DeAndre Jordan (LAC) went from second-round pick to surprise starter at center for the Clippers thanks to mounting injuries in Clipperland. Jordan has made the most of his time, scoring 23 points against the Lakers and grabbing 20 rebounds against the Warriors.
Ryan Anderson (NJN) had 12 points and nine rebounds against Memphis last week, helping the Nets to their lone win in their last seven games.
Danilo Gallinari (NYK) scored 21 points on a combined 7-for-12 shooting in consecutive wins against the Suns and Grizzlies last week.
Nathan Jawai (TOR) is off the HNPAMY list with two games played last week. He shot an airball against the Kings on his first field goal attempt of his career.

The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: J.R. Giddens (BOS), D.J. White (OKC)
* = assigned to D-League
D-League Watch: Anthony Tolliver, waived by San Antonio earlier in the season, was signed from the Iowa Energy by New Orleans.


SEARCH NEWS
LATEST VIDEOS
photoWestbrook Just Misses Triple-Double
Russell Westbrook has 28 points nine rebounds and 11 assists against the Warriors.
photoThompson Is On A Roll
Klay Thompson hit 11 three-pointers in Game 6 against the Thunder.
photoThompson Finishes Strong
Klay Thompson scores 17 points during the fourth quarter.
photoMove of the Night: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry crosses up his defender before driving to the basket and hitting the high floater off the glass.
photoIguodala Drives And Scores
Andre Iguodala drives to the basket and tosses in the layup.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices

NBA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.