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ROOKIE REPORT
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Who will emerge as the top rookie from the 2010 Draft class? We'll get our first glimpse soon.
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Rookie Rankings: Taking a first look at the 2010-11 class

By Drew Packham, NBA.com
Posted Jul 1 2010 12:10AM - Updated Jul 8 2010 12:39AM

It feels like just yesterday I was naming Tyreke Evans my top rookie in this space.

In doing so, I found I broke the heart of faithful reader Alan, a 10-year-old Stephen Curry fan from the Bay Area. Alan e-mailed me the day my final rankings came out, saying he cried when he read of my final decision.

Alan and I have since made amends, but my young friend may not like my first Rookie Rankings of 2010-11. Let me just start by saying I'm sorry for leaving the Warriors' first-round pick, Ekpe Udoh, off the below list. Just remember, Alan, it's a long season.

Alan's retelling of his heartbreak has reminded me of this: Fans love their rookies. There's something exciting about seeing these young players develop as they bring a passion and excitement to their teams, often injecting new hope for struggling franchises (see Kings, Bucks, Warriors). And that's what makes this such a rewarding, fun column to put together every week.

With every new crop of rookies, the anticipation builds. We're just a few days away from getting our first glimpses of these rookies in NBA action, and I, for one, can't wait. Summer Leagues begin Monday in Orlando and July 9 in Las Vegas (where I'll be providing daily analysis) and most rookies -- barring injury -- will be in action.

So below is my best guess -- without the benefit of seeing these young guys play -- about how this rookie class stacks up. If last season is any indication, this list should be constantly changing and we should expect some surprises -- and a whole lot of fun.

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 rankings, click here.

1. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
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0.00.00.00.00.00.00.0.000.000.000
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 1
A year older, even if spent on the bench, is still a year older. For my money, Blake Griffin is the man to beat in the Rookie of the Year race. Griffin, drafted No. 1 by the Clippers in 2009, missed his first season after suffering a serious knee injury that kept him out of the Clippers' lineup. (Because he didn't play in a regular-season game, he's still considered a rookie.) A lot remains to be seen whether Griffin is fully recovered (he claims he's going at 100 percent), and we won't get to see him until the preseason because he'll be skipping the Clippers' Summer League games in Las Vegas. Still, with All-Star Chris Kaman sharing the frontcourt duties and scorers Baron Davis and Eric Gordon in the backcourt, the pressure will be off Griffin. I expect Griffin to average at least 15 points and eight rebounds and, more importantly, help the Clippers improve on their 29-win season, which should go a long way in the voting.

2. John Wall, Washington Wizards
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0.00.00.00.00.00.00.0.000.000.000
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 1
If Griffin is my top pick for Rookie of the Year, Wall is 1a. Like past No. 1 picks, Wall will get a lot of minutes and should contribute right away. The future is now in D.C. and Wall will be handed the reins from Day 1. Last year's surprising success of so many point guards shows that the learning curve for floor generals is not insurmountable. If Griffin shows any ill effects from his knee injury, Wall could be the one holding the ROY hardware in 2011.

3. Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
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Last Week: NR | Drafted: 2
Turner comes into a perfect situation in Philadelphia. The Sixers struggled last season, winning just 27 games while searching for an identity. Not even the addition of franchise icon Allen Iverson could help. The Sixers have some good young pieces in point guard Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, and Turner will be expected to step up from the opening tip. Turner is one of the most NBA-ready rookies, having played three college seasons, and becoming the first Division I player to average at least 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a single season since Oscar Robertson did it in 1960. Impressive numbers, and it's possible Turner could approach those numbers soon in Philly.

4. Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves
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0.00.00.00.00.00.00.0.000.000.000
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 4
It's hard to say the No. 4 pick winning ROY would be a shock, but Johnson may have a legitimate chance to surprise everyone. The Wolves are a young team that struggled last season, winning just 15 games, but Wolves GM David Kahn loves Johnson's length and athleticism and is expecting the Syracuse swingman to contribute immediately. Pairing up with fellow Orange product Jonny Flynn in the backcourt, Johnson will get his opportunities. How well Johnson can adjust to Kurt Rambis' triangle offense (Flynn struggled mightily running the point but Johnson could flourish as a shooter) will be the key to his success.

5. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
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Last Week: NR | Drafted: 7
Georgetown's Greg Monroe was touted by some as the best passer in the 2010 Draft. Mind you, he's a 6-foot-11 forward. Monroe has a unique combination of size and skill and should be able to find a spot immediately on this Pistons team that is looking for an identity. If he gets the minutes (Jonas Jerebko, taken in the second round last season, started 73 games so the chances are there), I like Monroe's chances to be a double-double guy.

6. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
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0.00.00.00.00.00.00.0.000.000.000
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 5
Cousins is eager to shed his reputation as immature (remember, he's just 19 years old), and Sacramento should provide the ideal situation. Sacramento has the reigning Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans and a young nucleus that could surprise some people in 2011. With the addition of Samuel Dalembert at center, Cousins should compete with Carl Landry and Jason Thompson for playing time at power forward. At the worst, he's one of the Kings' first options off the bench and should be able to provide close to double-digit rebounding in his rookie campaign.

7. Derrick Favors, New Jersey Nets
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Last Week: NR | Drafted: 3
Favors' rookie season will be affected greatly by the situation around him. Whom the Nets are able to lure in free agency will determine how the team handles its young prospect. Are they able to land a big-name power forward like Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh? Will LeBron be swayed by Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z? My guess is that the big names will stay out of Jersey and Favors will be given latitude to grow in New Jersey. He's young (turns 19 in July), but there's no doubt he has the talent and work ethic to succeed.

8. James Anderson, San Antonio Spurs
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Last Week: NR | Drafted: 20
Anderson has the opportunity to make an immediate impact in San Antonio. Anderson was a consistent, efficient scorer his junior season at Oklahoma State, averaging 22.3 points while taking home Big 12 Player of the Year honors. The Spurs found a gem (DeJuan Blair) in the second round last season, and Anderson could end up being another steal. Anderson is dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of pre-Draft workouts, but the Spurs are expecting him to be a key contributor off the bench.

9. Paul George, Indiana Pacers
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0.00.00.00.00.00.00.0.000.000.000
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 10
George is used to flying under the radar and, despite being the No. 10 pick, is still under the radar. Or at least a relative unknown. Not many (myself included, honestly) knew much about George, who played his college ball at Fresno State, before the Draft. But the Pacers like what they saw in the athletic guard and coach Jim O'Brien is eager to deploy a small lineup. I see George earning his playing time and being one of the sleepers of this rookie class.

10. Ed Davis, Toronto Raptors
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0.00.00.00.00.00.00.0.000.000.000
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 13
With Chris Bosh most likely headed out of town, the Raptors will need Davis to step in and produce immediately. He brings a defensive presence in the middle (Davis led the ACC with 2.8 blocks per game in his sophomore season) and should become a double-digit rebounder. He may never become a big-time scorer, but he has the potential to become an All-Star down the road. For now, the Raptors will settle for a player with double-double potential.

On the cusp: Cole Aldrich, Thunder: The Kansas big man could be a welcome addition to the frontcourt off the bench; Aldrich, who averaged 3.5 blocks in his junior season, should take minutes from Nenad Krstic or slide to the power forward spot if OKC wants to go big; Ekpe Udoh, Warriors: Don Nelson isn't shy about playing rookies, so the athletic big man should get plenty of opportunities to show off his raw talent; Gordon Hayward, Jazz: I like Hayward's chances of getting playing time. He can shoot the ball and if he works hard, he could follow in the footsteps of last year's rookie, Wesley Matthews, in becoming part of the rotation; Patrick Patterson, Rockets: The Rockets will have Yao Ming back this year, but Patterson should be able to contribute off the bench behind Luis Scola. May not score a ton, but he's a definite threat to put up decent rebounding numbers; Hassan Whiteside, Kings: Going on a limb here, but Whiteside had been projected by many as a potential lottery pick. Could be a good backup option to Dalembert in the post with his shot-blocking abilitites

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