Rookie Rankings: Mar. 28, 2005
By Jeff Dengate

A number of rookies are seeing increased playing time as the regular season draws to a close, and not necessarily rookies on the teams you may think are aiming for a high lottery pick. Orlando is making a push for a playoff spot with Jameer Nelson getting significant time running the offense, while Nick Collison has recently been earning nearly 30 minutes per outing for the Northwest Division-leading Seattle SuperSonics. To help you set your lineup for the fantasy game, Fantasy NBA: The Rookies, here's how this week's rankings look:

Rookie Gallery
Deng returns to the Bulls, top 10.
(Steve Babineau
NBAE/Getty Images)

Smith has recovered after a collision with the rookie wall.
(Victor Baldizon
NBAE/Getty Images)

JR Smith shoots his way into the top 10.
(Joe Murphy
NBAE/Getty Images)
1. Emeka Okafor, F-C, Charlotte (No. 2)
Stats: 14.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 0.9 (26.5 PRA)
Upcoming: vs. N.J. (3/28), vs. Chi. (3/30), vs. Tor. (4/1), at Chi. (4/2)
Breakdown: Keep an eye on the injury report this week as Okafor left Saturday's 94-92 win over Miami with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter because of a sprained left ankle.

2. Dwight Howard, F, Orlando (No. 1)
Stats: 11.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 0.8 APG (21.9 PRA)
Upcoming: vs. Atl. (3/28), vs. Tor. (3/30), vs. Was. (4/1), at N.J. (4/2)
Breakdown: Howard is closing out his best month of NBA service for the Magic, averaging 13.4 points on 54.1 percent shooting to go along with 11.9 rebounds in March.

3. Ben Gordon, G, Chicago (No. 3)
Stats: 14.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.8 APG (19.3 PRA)
Upcoming: vs. Mem. (3/28), at Cha. (3/30), vs. Cle. (3/31), vs. Cha. (4/2)
Breakdown: Gordon for Rookie of the Year? Scottie Pippen says so in his latest entry for the NBA.com Blog Squad: "Bottom Line: Ben is doing more with less minutes for a winning team. And isn't that what really counts -- the rookie making the most impact in helping his team win?"

4. Andre Iguodala, F, Philadelphia (No. 9)
Stats: 8.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.0 APG (17.5 PRA)
Upcoming: at Sac. (3/28), at Pho. (3/30), vs. Dal. (4/1), at Bos. (4/3)
Breakdown: Iguodala is the only rookie to post a triple-double this season, tallying exactly 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Philly's 107-84 rout of the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

5. Luol Deng, G-F, Chicago (No. 7)
Stats: 12.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.2 APG (19.7 PRA)
Upcoming: vs. Mem. (3/28), at Cha. (3/30), vs. Cle. (3/31), vs. Cha. (4/2)
Breakdown: Deng returned from a 10-game absence because of a right ankle sprain to average 10 points and 4.8 rebounds in four games last week -- all Bulls' victories.

6. Jameer Nelson, G, Orlando (No. 20)
Stats: 8.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.9 APG (13.2 PRA)
Upcoming: vs. Atl. (3/28), vs. Tor. (3/30), vs. Was. (4/1), at N.J. (4/2)
Breakdown: Nelson has been one of the bright spots in Orlando the past month. He has scored in double figures for the past 17 straight games, averaging 16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists over the stretch.

7. Josh Childress, G-F, Atlanta (No. 6)
Stats: 9.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.7 APG (16.5 PRA)
Upcoming: at Orl. (3/28), at Was. (3/30), vs. Bos. (4/1), vs. Clippers (4/3)
Breakdown: Childress has put up strong numbers for the Hawks, collecting 15.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over his last five.

8. Josh Smith, F, Atlanta Hawks (No. 17)
Stats: 8.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.6 APG (15.6 PRA)
Upcoming: at Orl. (3/28), at Was. (3/30), vs. Bos. (4/1), vs. Clippers (4/3)
Breakdown: It looks like Smith has gotten his second wind after hitting the proverbial "rookie wall." Smith struggled coming out of the 2005 All-Star break, but has averaged 14.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over his last five.

9. Nenad Krstic, F-C, New Jersey (No. 24, 2002)
Stats: 9.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.0 APG (15.0 PRA)
Upcoming: at Cha. (3/28), vs. Clippers (3/30), at N.Y. (4/1), vs. Orl. (4/2)
Breakdown: The Nets' seven-footer remains inconsistent, however has turned in fine performances for the team. Krstic is averaging 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds over his last 10 games.

10. J.R. Smith, F, New Orleans (No. 18)
Stats: 9.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.8 APG (13.1 PRA)
Upcoming: vs. Cle. (3/28), at Hou. (4/1), vs. Mia (4/2)
Breakdown: Smith registered a career-best 27 points in a Mar. 21 loss at Dallas. Less than one week later he pushed that figure to 33 in a victory over Memphis on Saturday, connecting on 13-of-18 shots -- including six-of-nine from three. Smith is averaging 22.4 points over the last five games.


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