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NBA.com Rookie Ladder

The Rookie Ladder is a free-flowing, constantly updated chart that ranks the 2011-12 rookies. If a rookie plays well, he climbs the Ladder. Play poorly, and he'll slide down a rung ... or two or three. The rankings are updated by NBA.com's Drew Packham. If you have an issue with the Ladder, or have a question or comment for Drew, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Rookies of the Month

APRIL: FARIED, JOHNSON

The Atlanta Hawks' Ivan Johnson and the Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

Irving all the way

April 25 -- What a short, strange trip it's been.

With no Summer League and a contracted season, it feels like yesterday we caught our first glimpse of this so-called weak rookie class.

And what a glimpse it was.

Ricky Rubio, whom we waited on for two years, was even better than advertised. He -- along with Kevin Love -- rejuvenated the Wolves and injected life into a franchise that's longed for a 1-2 punch since the Kevin Garnett-Stephon Marbury days.

Isaiah Thomas, the No. 60 pick of the Draft, came out of nowhere and turned out to be the reliable, steady point guard the Kings needed.

Kenneth Faried, whom I was high on in my initial rankings, lived up to his Manimal moniker after the Nuggets dealt away Nene.

Klay Thompson did the same for the Warriors after Golden State dealt away Monta Ellis and was easily the best rookie scorer down the stretch, showing he's got ridiculous potential.

But through it all, one rookie stood out as the only true choice for Kia Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving. After playing just 11 games at Duke due to injury, Irving was a somewhat unknown at No. 1. But it didn't take long for the confident point guard to cement himself as the top choice. He not only led all rookies in scoring (18.8 points per game), but he made clutch shots and showed a leadership that will make him the cornerstone of the Cavs' rebuilding effort.

Dropped out: Tristan Thompson, Markieff Morris

Just missed the cut: Tristan Thompson, Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams, Morris, Bismack Biyombo

(Note: This will be the final Rookie Ladder of the season, which takes into account the season on the whole, where previously it was based both on the season overall with emphasis on recent play as well. Check back in July when I'll check in again from Summer League.)

-- Drew Packham, NBA.com

As always, feel free to email me with any comments, questions or suggestions. I'm also on Twitter, if that's your thing.

1
Kyrie Irving : Cleveland Cavaliers
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Not only did Irving lead all rookies in scoring (18.8 ppg), but he did it on 46.8 percent shooting, best among rookie guards and 10th among all guards. Irving showed an amazing ability to get into the lane, breaking down defenders off the dribble and you have to think his assist numbers will only rise as the Cavs put a better team around him. Had Ricky Rubio not gone down with an injury, the Spaniard may have given Irving more of a run for the top rung, but there's no denying Irving this spot.
-- April 25

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2
Ricky Rubio : Minnesota Timberwolves
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After a long wait, Rubio's rookie season was limited to 41 games, but what a 41 games it was. Rubio only averaged 10.6 points on 35.7 percent shooting, but he led all rookies in assists (8.2) and steals (2.2). Rubio's impact goes far beyond his statistics, though. Rubio's intensity on defense rubbed off on teammates and his pass-first attitude on offense had everyone looking for the cutting teammate, bringing a fun style of basketball to Minnesota. And the Wolves were winning. Before Rubio was injured Mar. 9, the Wolves were eighth in the West and had a real chance of making the playoffs. After, the team went 5-19. "He makes winning plays, he's a winner," Kevin Love said of his rookie teammate, who will have to settle for second on the final Ladder.
-- April 25

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3
Kenneth Faried : Denver Nuggets
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After a slow start to the season, The Manimal was unleashed in the second half and quickly showed why he was the best college rebounder for two straight seasons. Faried brought an energy unmatched by any other rookie, and the Nuggets thrived with him manning the middle, even after the trade of Nene. Faried will finish first among rookies in rebounding (7.6) and field-goal percentage (58.5), second to Rubio in double-doubles (11) and third in blocks (1.05). For me, Faried's impact on the Nuggets' playoff run is remarkable and earns him the third rung.
-- April 25

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4
Isaiah Thomas : Sacramento Kings
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What a great story the Kings got in Thomas. While many pinned the team's hopes on the much-hyped Jimmer Fredette, it was the 60th pick of the Draft who had the biggest impact. Thomas will finish sixth among rookies in scoring (11.5 ppg), fourth in assists (4.0) and first in the hearts of many Sacramento fans. After 35 games of watching his team play me-first basketball, coach Keith Smart turned to the 5-foot-9 Thomas, and the results were clear. As a starter, Thomas averaged 15.0 points and 5.2 assists, but more importantly brought a positive attitude and stability they lacked with Tyreke Evans manning the point. It will be interesting to see how the Kings handle their crowded backcourt next season, but Thomas proved he belongs in this league -- and high on the Ladder.
-- April 25

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5
Klay Thompson : Golden State Warriors
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Down the stretch, there was no better scorer than Thompson. In the month of April, the Warriors' shooting guard averaged 18.7 points on 46.5 percent shooting while becoming the focal point of the offense. Thompson continued to improve throughout the season and will finish first among rookies in 3-point shooting (41.8 percent) and 3s made. Owner Joe Lacob may have been booed on the night Chris Mullin's jersey was retired, but Thompson is looking like a potential All- Star and will make fans in Golden State forget all about Monta Ellis.
-- April 25

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6
Iman Shumpert : New York Knicks
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I've talked a lot about Shumpert's confidence, but it's that confidence that helped make him one of the top rookies. The Knicks landed Shumpert with the 17th pick and the point guard quickly earned a spot in Mike D'Antoni's rotation. The Georgia Tech product started the season hot, scoring in double-digits in 10 of his first 12 games but more importantly proved to be an incredible on-ball defender. Shumpert finishes his rookie season sixth in the NBA with 1.74 steals per game (second to Rubio among rookies) and gets a big bump on the Ladder because of the energy he brought to a Knicks team that were up and down in their run to the playoffs.
-- April 25

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7
Kawhi Leonard : San Antonio Spurs
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Leonard's numbers won't blow you away (7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds), but his impact on the top-seeded Spurs can't be overlooked. And the fact that Gregg Popovich puts Leonard in the same breath with defensive specialist Bruce Bowen tells you just how important the rookie has been. "Kawhi guards the toughest perimeter player on the other team," Popovich told the USA Today. "He's got great length. A great body. Has an inclination to do it. He enjoys the role. He's more gifted than Bruce, skillwise." Leonard will third among rookies in steals (1.3) and tied for third in 3-point shooting (38 percent), the two roles the Spurs asked him to fill.
-- April 25

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8
Brandon Knight : Detroit Pistons
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It's been a solid, if not spectacular rookie season for Knight. He proved to be a better-than-advertised shooter -- he ranks second among rookies in 3s made (103), most ever by a Pistons rookie -- and had 11 games in which he topped 20 points per game. His 12.9 points per game is second only to Irving among rookies and he'll finish fifth in assists (3.8). At just 20 years old, Knight has a lot to learn, but with the right pieces around him should become a better distributor to go with his scoring ability.
-- April 25

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9
MarShon Brooks : New Jersey Nets
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Brooks, whom the Nets landed on Draft night after the Celtics took him with the 22nd pick, has been one of the bigger revelations of the Draft. Brooks was a prolific scorer at Providence, and showed off that scoring ability right away in New Jersey. Brooks started 46 of the 55 games he played (he missed 10 games with various foot injuries) and displayed a plethora of moves on his way to averaging 12.7 points (third among rookies). Brooks could improve his 3-point shooting (31 percent), but the Nets must be thrilled with what they saw in his first season.
-- April 25

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10
Chandler Parsons : Houston Rockets
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The 38th pick of the Draft established himself as a key figure for the Rockets, who just missed the playoffs despite injuries to leading scorers Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry. Parsons started 57 of 63 games (through Tuesday), averaging 9.5 points (10th among rookies) and 4.8 rebounds (sixth). The 6-foot-9 forward also held his own as he was often tasked with guarding the opponent's best player, from Kevin Durant to Kobe Bryant, who had high praise after a March meeting in which Parsons helped lock down the Lakers superstar. "I think he has a really bright future and I don't say that a lot about a lot of people." There were several players who made good cases for the last rung, but Parsons gets the nod for his consistency and all-around productive season.
-- April 25

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Rookie Poll

irving-pol-0425.jpg

Who do you think should be named Rookie of the Year?

  • Kyrie Irving
  • Ricky Rubio
  • Kenneth Faried
  • Isaiah Thomas

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