By Drew Packham, NBA.com
Posted Jan 13 2010 8:46PM
If anyone knows this rookie class on an intimate level, it's the man they call The Hoops Whisperer.
Idan Ravin, a former lawyer-turned-personal trainer, puts such stars as Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul (to name just two) through notoriously grueling workouts, but his fingerprints are all over the 2009 Draft class.
Before last summer's Draft, Ravin held training sessions with five rookies currently in the league -- Stephen Curry, Jonas Jerebko, Wesley Matthews, Sam Young and Lester Hudson. All but Hudson have had immediate impacts on their teams. Curry has been impressive in Golden State and continues to improve with each game. Detroit's Jerebko has been the biggest steal of the second round (or so I think). Matthews, who went undrafted, has been a diamond in the rough for the Jazz. And Young, whom the Grizzlies got with the 36th pick, has managed to average 8.1 points for a team loaded with scorers. All four are among the top 11 among rookies in scoring.
"With all those guys the thing that was most impressive looking back was their consistency and their effort level," Ravin said. "They were very serious in their approach and that is very important. A lot of these guys have impressive resumes and come in with high expectations, but they really put in the work and stayed humble."
In a recent phone interview, Ravin sounded like a proud father when talking about how well "his guys" have made the transition. Ravin's training regimen features high-intensity drills that put players through game-like situations that test a player's limits.
"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the game is mental," Ravin said. "There's so much mental stamina required for these guys, when you consider that these guys have played their whole lives as a superstar and to come in and get DNPs is a big change for them."
Fortunately, Ravin's charges -- surprisingly for Jerebko, Matthews and Young -- are getting playing time, and making the most of it.
"A lot of those draft reports are hocus-pocus to me," Ravin said. "You could be ranked the second-best player in the draft, but if you go to the wrong system or to a team where you're not allowed to grow, you'll never succeed. I think all those kids went to places where it was a good fit and they went in with the right mindset."
Credit Ravin for instilling that mindset. Despite working with a plethora of superstars -- including LeBron James at one point -- Ravin enjoys seeing his young players find success at the next level.
"I treat every client like it's my first client and my last client," Ravin says. "By their success is how I measure my work."
If that's the case, this rookie class is making Ravin look pretty good.
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.
Honorable Mention: A.J. Price, Pacers: Averaged 16.3 points and 4.0 assists in three games this week while playing big minutes in crunch time; Jon Brockman, Kings: Played 38 minutes in first career start, scoring five points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Kings' 102-100 win over the Nuggets. Has given the Kings a much-needed inside presence off the bench; Marcus Thornton, Hornets: Averaged 12.5 points in last two games while going 5-for-7 from three-point land; Serge Ibaka, Thunder: Averaged 6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds in three games this week.
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