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Dave McMenamin

Rookie Rankings

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Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Honeymoon just about over for Oden

By Dave McMenamin, NBA.com
Posted Mar 20 2009 1:48PM

There is somebody notably absent from this week's Rookie Rankings, kind of like how it seemed wrong that Jack Nicholson wasn't occupying his usual front row seat at the Oscars last month.

He's not in the top 10. He's not in the next 10. But his plight is being bantered about by the talking heads on TNT, NBA TV and ESPN's 1st and 10.

Greg Oden's honeymoon has officially ended. He had us with the goofy grin, broad shoulders and the flashes of brilliance, but in today's societal habits of trying to project the future rather than patiently allowing it to unfold, Oden has the doubters doubting.

Microfracture surgery on his right knee in his first year wiped out his entire 2007-08 campaign. Back for '08-09 as a second-year rookie, Oden came down with a foot injury in his first game as a pro which cost him two weeks of action. Then, four days after perhaps the finest outing of his young career (17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in a win against the Knicks), Oden bumped knees with Golden State's Corey Maggette.

The initial diagnosis was a bone bruise on his left knee. He was going to miss the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and the ballyhooed national matchup with emerging superstar Kevin Durant, who he was picked one spot before in 2007. But with the Blazers playing games that counted towards a playoff berth after the All-Star break, nobody minded much that Oden sat out.

Then the bone bruise became a bone chip and the 7-foot, 285-pound Oden was going to miss a couple of weeks. Then the bone chip didn't heal as expected and the couple of weeks became closer to a month.

Line of the Week
Russell Westbrook (OKC)
March 2 vs. DAL
17 pts, 10 reb, 10 ast, 2 stl
6-18 FG, 4-4 FT

The same guy who was quoted on the cover of ESPN The Magazine saying, "I hope I can get a bunch of championships -- like 15," now has people wondering whether he can even stay healthy for 15 weeks at a time.

The timing couldn't be worse for the Blazers, who are currently the No. 6 seed in the tight-as-Spandex West. On one had, Portland is only a game behind Houston for the No. 3 seed. On the other, they're just 3 1/2 games from being out of the playoff picture entirely.

But before Oden is labeled a bust, let's all catch our breath for a second. He is just 21 years old. He may be injury prone so far, but nobody is immune. Durant is the league's fourth-leading scorer and has people wanting to rewrite history, having Portland take him No. 1 in '07. But Durant isn't even playing right now either because of a severely sprained ankle.

Injuries happen in the game of basketball. Look at Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Carlos Boozer, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Gilbert Arenas, etc. This season's injury report has read like an All-Star roster.

Who's to say Oden has just been unlucky, rather than injury-prone?

Whatever he's been, he's no longer going to be a regular in the Rookie Rankings -- at least for the time being. His 9.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks averages pale in comparison to the one stat everybody is harping on these days -- the 95 games, and counting, he's missed because of injury since he's come into the league.

Korleone Young Drop of the Week: E. Gordon LAC (-1)

Eddie Gottlieb Rise of the Week: B. Lopez NJN (+1)

Overall Rankings - Week 18

1. Derrick Rose, G, Chicago
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
61 36.4 16.5 3.6
6.3
0.8 0.2 .468 .246 .780
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 1
Rose dropped 22 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals on the Rockets to end Houston's six-game win streak. The rest of his week wasn't nearly as memorable - Rose combined to shoot 11-for-30 in losses to the Nets, Bobcats and Wizards - but the Houston win gave a glimpse of the player Rose can be at his best.

2. Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
60 32.4 15.8 4.8 5.1 1.4 0.2 .403 .294 .823
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 4
If we used this column to talk about which rookie was playing the best right now, Westbrook, the newly crowned Western Conference Rookie of the Month, would be sitting on top of the totem pole. But this space isn't about a snap shot. It's a big picture look at how the Rookie of the Year voting should go at this point of the season, taking into consideration everything that's happened from late October through early March. That said, doesn't trail Rose by much.

3. O.J. Mayo, G, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
59
37.9
19.2
4.2 2.9 1.1 0.2 .436 .380 .879
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 3
It's official: Mayo is in a slump. The sleek 6-4, 210-pound guard hasn't shot 50 percent or better from the field in 11 straight games and the Grizzlies, not surprisingly, are 2-9 during that stretch. After struggling against LeBron James last week, Mayo got Kobe Bryant this week and went 5-for-12 while watching Mamba go 12-for-23. To make the situation worse, he's the only rookie from the Rookie Challenge not to have his jersey bid on in NBA.com's auction.

4. Brook Lopez, C, New Jersey
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
60 30.1 12.7 8.2 0.9 0.5
1.9
.518 .000 .822
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 10
Lopez's 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in a win against Milwaukee gave Westbrook's triple-double a run for its money when the one man Rookie Rankings committee determined the Line of the Week. He'll have to settle for Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors for February and a one-spot bump up in the rankings this week.

5. Eric Gordon, G, L.A. Clippers
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
58 33.0 15.1 2.5 2.7 1.0 0.4 .444 .384 .864
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 7
Gordon left the Clippers' upset of Boston early last week with an injury to his left shoulder. Los Angeles went on to drop its next three games without the scoring machine in the lineup. Gordon is day-to-day and may face off against Mayo on Wednesday.

6. Michael Beasley, F, Miami
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
58 24.2 13.2 5.2 0.8 0.5 0.5 .455 .397 .763
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 2
Beasley scored 23 points in 25 minutes against Atlanta last week, but followed that up with just 20 points in 50 minutes against the Knicks and Cavaliers. Beasley is entrenched in the sixth spot, which isn't terrible for the No. 2 pick - it's not like the No. 6 pick Danilo Gallinari or the No. 8 pick Joe Alexander not even sniffing the top 10 - but he's taken his lumps this season after that year of sheer dominance at Kansas State.

7. Kevin Love, F, Minnesota
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
60 24.3 9.9
8.8
1.1 0.4 0.6 .462 .143 .786
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 5
Love still has a lesson or two to learn about consistency (he backed up his super solid 24-point, 15-rebound game against Utah with just two and three against Portland last week), but is showing up more often than he goes missing these days, witnessed by his 18 points and 14 rebounds against the Warriors on Tuesday.

8. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
59 30.1 11.0 7.4 1.6 0.8 1.0
.525
.000 .703
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 48 by L.A. Lakers in 2007
During a recent telecast Pau Gasol was asked to name the five best international players in the game today in his opinion. The scruffy one included his even scruffier little brother. Before you cry nepotism, let me remind you that Marc had 22 points and 15 rebounds against the Pacers and 17, 14 and three blocks against the Lakers last week while building upon his rookie-leading 52.5 shooting percentage. Pau might not be far off.

9. Jason Thompson, F, Sacramento
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
62 26.6 10.3 6.8 1.1 0.6 0.6 .490 .000 .689
Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 12
We introduced a new feature on NBA.com this week called The Chat Room, where our writers debate various issues over instant messages. One topic that came up was answering which team has the bleakest future. The Kings were the consensus choice. But wait, we forgot to mention that Sacramento has a player that leads all of the league's rookies in something! Fouls. Oh. Thompson's 233 transgressions are 48 more than his closest rookie competitor, Gasol. Yeah, Sacto is pretty screwed.

10. D.J. Augustin, G, Charlotte
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
51 27.7 11.8 1.9 3.9 0.6 0.0 .414 .414 .902
Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 9
Augustin returns to the top 10 where he had risen to as high as No. 6 in Week 10. Augustin appears to be fully recovered from the abdominal strain that caused him to miss a chunk of time and has been an important contributor as Charlotte strives for the eighth playoff spot in the East. Augustin averaged 8.8 points and 4.0 assists as the Bobcats went 4-0 last week.
RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Ryan Anderson (NJN), Mario Chalmers (MIA), Rudy Fernandez (POR), Roy Hibbert (IND), George Hill (SAS), Courtney Lee (ORL), Luc Mbah a Moute (MIL), JaVale McGee (WAS), Anthony Randolph (GSW), Kyle Weaver (OKC)

Noteworthy

Taylor

Mike Taylor (LAC) was messing around with a few dunks before a recent game against the Warriors when Anthony Randolph (GSW) saw Taylor pull off a reverse, off the bounce, through the legs alley-oop. Randolph asked him to try it again, a local camera man got set up for the shot and this is what happened. The dunk is only slightly less impressive than Taylor returning from a hand injury to score 35 points in his last three games.
Goran Dragic (PHX) scored 14 point in 17 minutes in mop-up duty when the Suns got blown out by the Lakers last week. Phoenix interim head coach Alvin Gentry had this classic zinger about his international rook: "After he figured out he was an NBA player, he did a great job." .
Bobby Brown (MIN) is making the most of his change of scenery in Minnesota, scoring 15 points against Portland and 12 against Golden State last week.
Kyle Weaver (OKC) continued his strong play with 18 points, three rebounds and four assists in a win against the Mavericks.
Danilo Gallinari (NYK) finally missed his first free throw. He's 21-for-22 on the year now.
Anthony Randolph (GSW) and Anthony Morrow (GSW) dropped in a couple stellar games, with Randolph collecting 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocks against Utah and Morrow going 3-for-3 from deep en route to 17 points in a win over Minnesota.
If I could be any rookie for a day, it would definitely be Courtney Lee (ORL). Lee gets to take advantage of Dwight Howard as a teammate, has no pressure on him to perform as a late first-rounder thanks to Superman, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Rafer Alston and gets to bomb threes all day (he went 4-for-12 against Philly last week). Somebody help me out with a Freaky Friday like swap, please.

The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: D.J. White (OKC)*
* = injured
D-League Watch: Nathan Jawai was assigned to the Idaho Stampede by Toronto


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