By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Aug 16 2009 1:30PM
For the last several months, reporters, bloggers, team personnel and fans have had plenty to say about the Draft Class of 2009. We made projections before the Draft, gave analysis after it and made evaluations from the Summer League.
No one knows the rookies, though, like the rookies themselves. So we took a survey of 35 of them to get the inside scoop on the best of the group.
Blake Griffin has long been considered head and shoulders above the rest of his class, so it's no surprise that he headlines the survey. But he didn't dominate any of our questions the way Stephen Curry did with the best shooter question.
If fans get to vote for a rookie to participate in the dunk contest this year, the rest of the class likely will be disappointed if DeMar DeRozan doesn't go to Dallas. And for a great individual matchup, tune in on Jan. 26 and Jan. 31, when the man the rookies picked as the best playmaker, Jonny Flynn of the Timberwolves, goes up against one of the best defenders, Toney Douglas of the Knicks.
Here are the results. Note that players were not allowed to vote for themselves, their NBA teammates or their college teammates. And if they did (which happened despite clear instructions), their vote was discounted for that question.
Who will be the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year?
1. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 54.8 percent
"At 6-10, he does a lot of stuff that small forwards or guards do. He's in a league of his own in that respect, and he's so skilled."
2. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota -- 12.9 percent
James Harden, Oklahoma City -- 12.9 percent
4. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 6.5 percent
Others receiving votes: DeMar DeRozan (TOR), Tyreke Evans (SAC), Brandon Jennings (MIL), James Johnson (CHI)
One player actually signed his name for his answer like he was signing an autograph. You have to admire his belief in himself, but of course, that vote didn't count.
Which rookie is most ready to contribute right away?
1. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 37.1 percent
"He's got talent and he works at it. They say that hard work beats talent, but Blake has both. He works hard all the time."
2. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota -- 17.1 percent
3. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento -- 14.3 percent
James Harden, Oklahoma City -- 14.3 percent
5. James Johnson, Chicago -- 5.7 percent
Others receiving votes: Stephen Curry (GSW), DeMar DeRozan (TOR), Brandon Jennings (MIL), DaJuan Summers (DET)
From the responses to the first three questions, it's clear that Griffin, Flynn and Harden are the consensus top three in the class.
Which rookie will have the best career?
1. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 20.6 percent
"His body is built for the NBA and built to be productive for a long time. He has a lot to polish in his game to make him an even better player down the road."
2. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota -- 11.8 percent
James Harden, Oklahoma City -- 11.8 percent
4. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 5.9 percent
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto -- 5.9 percent
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento -- 5.9 percent
Gerald Henderson, Charlotte -- 5.9 percent
Jeff Teague, Atlanta -- 5.9 percent
Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis -- 5.9 percent
Others receiving votes: Chase Buddinger (HOU), Earl Clark (PHX), Brandon Jennings (MIL), James Johnson (CHI), Ty Lawson (DEN), DaJuan Summers (DET), Terrence Williams (NJN)
This is the question that generated the biggest variety of responses.
Which rookie is being most overlooked?
1. DeJuan Blair, San Antonio -- 15.6 percent
2. Toney Douglas, New York -- 9.4 percent
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia -- 9.4 percent
DaJuan Summers, Detroit -- 9.4 percent
Sam Young, Memphis -- 9.4 percent
6. Taylor Griffin, Phoenix -- 6.3 percent
James Johnson, Chicago -- 6.3 percent
Ty Lawson, Denver -- 6.3 percent
Terrence Williams, New Jersey -- 6.3 percent
Others receiving votes: Omri Casspi (SAC), Earl Clark (PHX), Darren Collison (NOH), Austin Daye (DET), Jonny Flynn (MIN), Eric Maynor (UTA), Jermaine Taylor (HOU)
The players answered Blair because he dropped to the second round, but for the most part, the media has lauded the Spurs for the pick.
Which rookie is the most athletic?
1. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto -- 47.1 percent
"His leaping ability is incredible. I wouldn't be surprised if he won the dunk contest this year."
2. Terrence Williams, New Jersey -- 20.6 percent
3. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 14.7 percent
4. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota -- 5.9 percent
Sam Young, Memphis -- 5.9 percent
Others receiving votes: Gerald Henderson (CHA), Jordan Hill (NYK)
DeRozan and Williams have completely different body types. DeRozan is skinny, while Williams is thick and strong.
Which rookie is the best shooter?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 79.4 percent
"He knows how to get his shot off, even though he's a small guard, and he gets it off really quick."
2. Jodie Meeks, Milwaukee -- 8.8 percent
3. Wayne Ellington, Minnesota -- 5.9 percent
Others receiving votes: Austin Daye (DET), DaJuan Summers (DET)
They're apparently willing to overlook Curry's 32.5 percent from the field in Summer League.
Which rookie is the best defender?
1. Toney Douglas, New York -- 23.3 percent
Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis -- 23.3 percent
"The combination of [Douglas'] strength and his lateral quickness makes him a good defender. You've got to make a lot of moves to get past him."
"[Thabeet] can block shots and change shots with his size. It's tough to attack the basket with somebody that big in the middle."
3. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia -- 16.7 percent
4. Darren Collison, New Orleans -- 10.0 percent
Terrence Williams, New Jersey -- 10.0 percent
6. DeMarre Carroll, Memphis -- 6.7 percent
Others receiving votes: DeMar DeRozan (TOR), Jonny Flynn (MIN), Jeff Pendergraph (POR)
The long and the short of it. Thabeet is 7-foot-3. Douglas is 6-foot-1.
Which rookie is the best playmaker?
1. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota -- 40.0 percent
"He plays like he's been playing in the league already. He's got that whole swagger about him."
2. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee -- 31.4 percent
3. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento -- 5.7 percent
Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers -- 5.7 percent
Terrence Williams, New Jersey -- 5.7 percent
Others receiving votes: Rodrigue Beaubois (DAL), Ty Lawson (Denver), Eric Maynor (UTA), Jeff Teague (ATL)
Of the 23 rookies who wrote Flynn's name as their response to any of the questions, only six spelled "Jonny" correctly.
What will be the biggest adjustment for you playing in the NBA?
1. Schedule (number of games) -- 37.1 percent
2. Pace or style of play -- 25.7 percent
3. Physicality or talent of players -- 14.3 percent
4. Lifestyle/Off-court issues -- 8.6 percent
New position or role -- 8.6 percent
Also receiving votes: Staying healthy, Travel
An 82-game schedule has to be pretty intimidating when you've never played more than 35 or so.
Would you rather make the Playoffs or be a starter for your team this season?
1. Playoffs -- 87.1 percent
2. Starter -- 12.9 percent
Wouldn't you love to know who answered "Starter?"
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