Posted Nov 2 2006 11:36AM
This past Tuesday provided the Rookie Report the opportunity to check the preseason phenom that is Rajon Rondo, as well as Jason Kidd's new protege, Marcus Williams as the Celtics visited the Nets at the Meadowlands, which happens to be a five minute drive from Rookie Report HQ.
The Rookie Report did not go home disappointed.
Williams had missed the previous two games with a sprained wrist and then a bruised heel ("Just something minor," he said). Before Tuesday's game, Nets coach Lawrence Frank said that the first half (along with Friday's game against New York) would be a good indication of what his rotation would look like to start the season.
And Williams checked in with 5:09 to go in the first quarter, replacing Kidd. So for now, we can quiet all that Vince-Carter-as-the-backup-point-guard talk.
On his first possession, Williams drained a three. A minute later he hit Carter on an alley-oop from behind the midcourt line. Less than a minute after that, he threaded a beautiful backdoor feed to Richard Jefferson for a dunk. Not a bad start.
The kid has skills: fantastic court vision, a solid jumper (and he won't hesitate to shoot when the opportunity presents itself) and of course, nice handle. On the other end of the floor, his on-the-ball defense needs some work, but he knows where to be off-the-ball and is ready to help when needed.
"Marcus is a player," Frank said. "And he has the great fortune of having a mentor in Jason Kidd, who has done a phenomenal job with his role of constantly being in Marcus' ear and trying to lift him up."
Rondo checked in with a little less than three minutes to go in the first and made such an impact that Doc Rivers had no choice but to keep him on the floor for the rest of the half. Teamed with Sebastian Telfair in the backcourt, he didn't play much at the point, and was not matched up against Williams until the last couple of minutes of the second quarter.
Still, Rondo was a playmaker. Early in the second, he blocked Williams' shot from behind, took the ball the length of the floor and shoveled it back to Tony Allen for a throwdown. A minute later, he drove the lane and found Gerald Green on the perimeter for a wide open jumper.
Rondo was able to get into the paint whenever he wanted and knew where to find his teammates for open shots. He is as quick as they come and his hands are as quick as his feet, picking up three steals in the contest. He's small, though. Jason Kidd took him to the hoop in the second half, drew the foul, and hit the bucket, but it was the rookie who hit the floor.
His jumper needs a lot of work as well. At one point in fourth quarter, he shied away from an open three and then on the next possession, he took one ... and missed everything.
After the game, he told the Report that shot selection is the thing he needs to work on most.
"Just knowing when to shoot," he said. "I pass up a lot of shots. Just knowing when to take a shot instead of always being pass-first."
Still, if you are a Nets or a Celtics fan, you have to like what you have seen from these guys. (In fact, Williams followed up Tuesday's performance with a 19-point, six-dime effort in Philly on Wednesday.) And if you're an NBA team who drafted somewhere between No. 9 and No. 20 this June, you might be questioning your decision right now.
It seems clear that the rookie that will see the most minutes (at least to start the season) is Brandon Roy. He has started six of the Blazers' seven games so far, averaging 34.6 minutes per contest. The GMs have deemed Roy as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year and he hasn't done anything to change anyone's mind. He's scoring close to 15 points per game while shooting .479 from the field. His ability to play both guard positions will allow Nate McMillan to keep him on the floor for major minutes.
Keep Shooting, Rook
Adam Morrison has struggled with his shot thus far, shooting just .324 from the field as he gets used to the NBA game. Part of that learning process is knowing not to pass up open shots. The Bobcats drafted him to shoot and that's exactly what Bernie Bickerstaff wants him to do.
To the Mailbox
Do you think that Brandon Roy from Portland will be rookie of the year? Do you think he will be a good player in the long run?
Fernis - Portland, Ore.
T-Mobile Rookie Report: The Rookie Report tends to agree with the GMs in that he is the favorite. RR also agrees with them that Randy Foye and Adam Morrison are serious candidates as well. RR's other serious candidates are Rudy Gay, Tyrus Thomas and Jorge Garbajosa and RR's darkhorses are Rajon Rondo, Marcus Williams and Ronnie Brewer.
In the long run, it all depends on Roy's desire and work ethic. A lot of players become satisfied with just making it to the league. If he puts his work in, there's no reason he can't be an All-Star down the line.
What do you think about Paul Millsap's showing thus far? Granted it's only the preseason he's pulling down 10 boards a night with very decent numbers in only around 20-25 minutes. Am I crazy or was it a fluke that this guy didn't go in the first round?
RR: Millsap has certainly looked solid so far, but the Report is not sure the minutes will be there during the season for him to be all that productive in his rookie year. Still, he's looking like a nice steal at No. 47. Perhaps some teams thought he was a bit undersized ... and perhaps the Jazz only drafted him for the Louisiana Tech karma. Seems to be working.
Got a rookie-related question or comment? E-mail us. We'll answer your mail every Thursday.
And check in on Monday, as we bring you our preseason rookie rankings.