SECAUCUS, NJ, March 29, 2007 --
There are just three more days of games in March, so it's time to talk Players of the Month. Can LaMarcus Aldridge
unseat his teammate? Can Walter Herrmann
come out of nowhere to take Eastern Conference honors? Let's take a look at the numbers...
GR = Game remaining in the month
So, in the Report's eyes, it looks like Brandon Roy is going to win his third straight ROM award, but the East could go to either Rajon Rondo or Herrmann, depending on how the committee is feeling Monday morning.
The Blazers host the Grizzlies tonight (10 p.m. ET, NBA LP), so it will your chance to check out all three of the Western Conference candidates, along with Tarence Kinsey, who's been tearing it up lately and out-Kobe'd Kobe on Tuesday.
The Report will be taking notes on that one, just as we took notes on a couple of games earlier this week. Enjoy...
Blazers at Bulls -- March 26
Aldridge and Thomas went head-to-head on Monday
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
Got the ball in the post several times (mostly on the left block). Did a back-down and spin a couple of times into a fadeaway. Missed the first one (was a little too far from the basket), but hit a couple after that.
Best post move was a spin baseline into a layup against Ben Wallace.
Also had two nice, quick jump hooks for baskets when he got position close to the hoop.
Always ran the floor and was rewarded with some easy buckets as a result.
Defense on the pick-and-roll was OK, but not great. One time, he switched onto Ben Gordon, but then backed up, leaving BG alone for an elbow jumper. Another time, Kirk Hinrich went right around him and later in the game, KH split the double-team.
Missed most of his catch-and-shoot opportunities (off pick-and-pops) on the perimeter.
Line: 34 min, 20 pts, 8 reb, 1 stl, 2 TO, 10-15 FG
Thoughts: The Report is not sure why the Bulls traded this guy away. He has a very polished offensive game for a rookie and is a decent rebounder. Obviously, he needs to add some weight.
Got a steal by dropping down and poking the ball away from Malik Allen in the lane. Led to a fast break where he got fouled.
Had a couple of careless turnovers, including fumbling the inbounds pass after a Chicago basket.
The Chicago announcers kept harping on his tendency to protect the ball by stiff-arming the defender. Got called for an offensive foul doing this late in the third.
Got free on a screen and roll early in the second and stepped into an 18-footer.
Committed a bad foul on Hinrich on the perimeter with one second to go in the first half.
Line: 11 min, 9 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 3 TO, 2-2 FG, 5-6 FT
Thoughts: He has great vision and could be one of the best playmaking point guards in the league in a few years. His on-the-ball defense seemed decent too, but a couple of bad fouls tell us that there's some work to be done in that area.
Immediately upon entering the game, he drew an offensive foul on Zach Randolph in the low post. On the next Portland possession, he had two deflections and then drew a charge on Randolph 25 feet from the basket.
Pick and roll defense was inconsistent. Rodriguez went right around him one time, but he made a nice switch and kept in front of Jarrett Jack another.
Active, but not very disciplined on D. Still, his activity helped cause a Portland TO midway through the second (in addition to the two aforementioned charges on ZR).
Had a couple of nice blocked shots. First one was early in the second when he came from the weak side to block Jamaal Magloire. But there was one, in the third, where he allowed Randolph to beat him off the dribble and he blocked it from behind, erasing his own mistake with his athleticism.
Had two wide open 12-foot jumpers and his shot didn't come close either time.
Line: 22 min, 2 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast, 3 blk, 1-8 FG
Thoughts: He needs to lock himself in the gym this summer in order to develop some semblance of a jump shot. At this point, there's no need to guard him more than five feet from the basket. His athleticism is tremendous and if he can combine that with better on-the-ball D, he could become one of the best defensive players in the league somewhere down the line.
Impressed the Report by boxing Magloire out and grabbing the rebound late in the first quarter.
Had a bad turnover less than a minute later when he hesitated out on the perimeter and was called for a carry.
Had a nice back-door give and go (beating Rodriguez to the hoop) with Ben Wallace late in the first. Missed the initial shot but got his own rebound, put in in and drew a foul. Missed the FT.
Line: 4 min, 2 pts, 3 reb, 1 TO, 1-2 FG, 0-1 FT
Thoughts: Probably needs to get stronger in order to match up with NBA-level twos and threes. He's got skills and seems to be a smart player.
Sonics at Timberwolves -- March 27
Comes in to start the second quarter. First shot (catch-and-shoot three from the corner) is way short. But he stuck a catch-and-shoot three from the top near the end of the half.
Sonics ran a high screen-and-roll for Earl Watson almost every time down the floor and the Minnesota bigs did not do a good job of stepping out on the screen, so Foye was always a step behind Watson.
His speed with the ball paid off a couple of times in the second quarter. First, he drew a foul on Rashard Lewis on the perimeter with a speed dribble. Then, with just six seconds left in the half, he flew down the floor and found Marko Jaric for an open three.
Had a couple of bad defensive plays late in the second. First, he gambled trying to steal a pass, leaving Watson open to drive and draw a foul. A couple of minutes later, he bit on a Watson pump fake and got beat, again leading to a foul by one of his teammates.
Used his quickness to split the double on a high screen-and-roll with KG, but Trenton Hassell missed the open jumper after the kick out.
Had a nice drive and short fadeaway from the left block early in the fourth.
His last three drives of the game resulted in two turnovers (offensive foul, bad pass) and a missed runner.
Line: 21 min, 5 pts, 3 ast, 4 TO, 2-4 FG, 1-2 3PT
Thoughts: He's so quick with the ball, he can get around his man almost anytime he wants, but he just needs to stay in control. His defense needs to be smarter.
The FSN North broadcast begins with a short piece about Smith, where he reveals that his nickname at Boston College was "Cookie Monster." Love it.
Throughout the game, he does a great job of diving to the basket when his man leaves to double. It results in a few baskets off passes, a couple of tip-ins and a few fouls drawn on the Sonics.
He moves a lot on offense and is always looking to set a screen.
Puts himself in good position to rebound on both ends of the floor.
He talks a lot on D, but his screen-and-roll defense was not good. He would sag off to prevent a drive by the ball-handler but leaving plenty of space for a jumper or a pass to Smith's man in the lane. Not very effective, but we don't know if that's how his coaches are telling him to play it. As stated above, none of the Minnesota bigs ever stopped the ball handler.
Forced a turnover late in the second by doubling on a Luke Ridnour drive and getting a hand on the ball.
Nice short jumper from the left block off a screen-and-roll with Ricky Davis.
Line: 25 min, 13 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl, 2 TO, 5-6 FG, 3-6 FT
Thoughts: An efficient offensive player who knows where to be on the court and will score points without having plays run for him. He's a good rebounder, but his defense definitely needs work.
By the Report's unofficial count, he was 2-4 and catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Let Hassell sneak behind him to grab a week-side offensive rebound, which directly resulted in a Ricky Davis three.
Had a bad turnover on a drive when he tried to pass over Mark Blount.
Had a key offensive rebound midway through the fourth that led to a Rashard Lewis three.
After a missed Seattle free throw, he harassed Davis on the rebound for a couple of seconds. This leads to an eight second call on the Wolves for not getting the ball across the midcourt line in time.
Line: 20 min, 9 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 2 TO, 3-5 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT
Thoughts: He's athletic and he'll get points on the break, with dives to the rim and on catch-and-shoot opportunities, but he shouldn't be a decision maker on offense at this point. If you look back at our notes from January, you'll see that we like Gelabale's ability to stay in front of his man, but he'll need to be stronger in order to defend the best twos and threes in this league.
Hopefully, if you haven't been able to see much of these guys this season, that will give you a better feel for their game. We'll do the same for as many rookies as we can between now and the end of the season.
Until then, let's get to ...
Sophistikat - Toronto, Ont.: Well... with Il Mago out indefinitely, my last email about a possible tie for Rookie of the Year is out the window like Andrea's appendix. It's time to crown and congratulate Brandon Roy.
T-Mobile Rookie Report: The Report believes that if said appendix were put on eBay, some of the people that have written in the last five months might be willing to pay a good deal of money (theirs or their parents') for it.
Saif - Toronto, Ont.: For rookies is it generally better to be drafted in a situation where you will play in the rotation, or even start, and contribute to the team from day 1, or to be drafted in a situation where you will be at the end of the bench for a few years but can learn from some great veterans in the initial stages of your career? I mean, is there some sort of indication from past years whether prospects have done better after spending time studying the veterans or after being thrown into the mix right away?
RR: That's a really good question, Saif. It would take a good amount of research, but it would make an interesting column. Stay tuned... maybe it's something we can tackle in the offseason.
Jason - Castle Rock, Wash.: Frankly, the Bargnani vs. Roy in five years argument is completely missing the point. Aldridge is the comparison for Il Mago, not Roy - and Aldridge will be the best player of the 2006 draft in 5 years. I don't think it will be close. Aldridge is a big man that brings big man talents and skills to the game. Il Mago is a "big" that brings "small" to the game. Gimme Aldridge, over and over.
RR: Good points, Jason. If you read the notes above, you'll see that the Report is a big Aldridge fan and we're definitely rethinking that "Who would you rather have down the line?" question. But, there is still a ton of potential in Il Mago. Right now, yes, he's more of a perimeter player, but he can block shots and there's no reason he can't become more proficient in the post. It's all about the work he (and all the rookies) puts in during the summer and how dedicated he is to maxing that potential. The Report is already excited to see what he brings next fall, and the same can be said for most of the rookies we've seen this season.
Andrew - Provo, Utah: Hey lets give Paul Millsap some more respect. He got dropped down this week apparently because of his poor game against the Clippers. Well I don't know if you saw that game but the entire jazz line-up was horrible, their worst loss of the season, hard to judge his performance from that game. Look at the games before and after that one. Against the Warriors he had 16 points, shooting 6-9 from the field and making all 3 free throws. And most of the those points came in the critical last minutes of the game, along with a good steal and some boards. Then against the Grizzlies he had 14 boards and 11 points in 23:00 mins. I haven't seen any rookie better than him all season except for maybe Roy. And remember, that Roy plays on a losing team, losing teams play their rookies more, no one else on the rookie rankings is on a team that is close to as good as the Jazz, (Raptors have had a good year, but not that good). Roy still might be the Rookie of the year, but lets give Millsap the respect he deserves.
RR: Bumping The Paperboy down to No. 6 this week was the toughest decision the Report has made all season. Seriously. Like we said last week, that line between five and six is extra important to the Report, because it determines who should be a First Team All-Rookie selection and who should be Second Team in the Report's mind. Right now, there are six rookies who we believe deserve First Team consideration and figuring out which of them should be left out is going to be very difficult in the next three weeks.
Paul - New York, N.Y.: I am a crazed Knick fan and I believe respect should be given where respect is due. Of course I am talking about Renaldo Balkman. He should be in the top ten in the rookie rankings over Tyrus Thomas. First you can look at his higher efficiency rating which as rookie efficiency's go there is a substantial difference. He also out rebounds Thomas, get more steals, assists. He shoots a higher percentage and averages fewer turnovers per game. While all those statistics show something the thing that sets apart Thomas and Balkman is that when Balkman hits the court you see a sudden change in how the Knicks play because the Knicks play with more energy and they better defense. Take a look and you will see what I mean...
RR: No. 10 is another one that's going to drive us crazy from now until April 19. The Report's top nine is pretty much locked in and should all be there (not necessarily at their current ranking) when our final rankings are revealed, but we've had three different players occupy that 10-spot in the last three weeks, and that doesn't include Balkman, who is right there with Thomas, Rajon Rondo and Marcus Williams in the 10-13 range. All we can say at this point is ... stay tuned.
Jason - Beaverton, Ore.: Who would you take as the best post player amongst the rookies. I'd like to hear your views on an Aldridge/Millsap debate.
RR: Offensively, Aldridge is the better post player. Millsap is the better rebounder.
Jeffrey - Salt Lake City, Utah.: What!?!? I expect drastic changes in the report next week. You got number one right on, Roy is the clear-cut rookie of the year, no question. But what of the remaining rankings? Il Mago's on the DL, which if NBA.com follows the Race to the MVP, pretty much drops him out of the top ten. Sorry. The same goes for Jorge Garbajosa. Again, sorry. Rudy Gay has done his team such a great service, that their the only team currently mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Yeah, Gasol was injured, but for 23 games and they're 32 off last years pace. So again, how does Rudy Gay place at number two. Number 2-3 is Aldridge and/or Millsap, take your pick. Portland has improved this year and only looks to get better. Shouldn't part of the Rookie Rankings account for how a player fits with his new team and helps them improve? Not fall of the face of the earth.
1. Roy is ROY
2. Millsap, slightly better numbers than Aldridge
RR: Drop Bargnani and Garbajosa out of the Top 10? Because they miss a handful of games? Both have already played more games than Roy will end up playing by the end of the year. Channing Frye missed the final month of the season last year and he never budged from where we had him ranked before he injured his knee. The rankings are about overall performance. Dropping a player out of the rankings completely because he's not currently playing wouldn't make any sense.
Jason - Los Angeles, Cal.: We, in the forum, want you to start calling LaMarcus Aldridge "The Sheriff." Here are some reasons listed:
1. He's from Texas, and everyone knows the most famous sheriffs are from Texas.
2. It would be awesome to have an Outlaw and Sheriff on the same team.
3. His position coach and mentor, Maurice Lucas, is called "The Enforcer." It makes sense that an Enforcer would train a Sheriff. Their jobs are practically the same...only the enforcer is slightly more illegal, like a Mafia hitman or something. But whatever, they both kick some tail.
4. A sheriff patrols his area and doesn't let any unsavory individuals in it...yes, I'm talking to you Odom.
5. If someone drives too fast, the sheriff will give him a ticket...OR SWAT HIS SHOT.
So, as you can see, there are several GREAT reasons to start calling LaMarcus "The Sheriff." Come on John...we need your support to get it started.
RR: It's not bad. Not bad at all. Worthy of publishing and if we get the itch, the Report might use it in the next few weeks. We'll see if anyone else picks up on it.
Lloyd - Riverdale, Utah.: Thanks again for keeping everyone up on the progress of the rookies, being impartial, and separating the wheat from the chaff on the questions that you have to field each week. It was nothing to thump a chest over with my homer favorite Paul Millsap this week. As you may have seen last night he was playing with a damaged right right hand , but still he played with heart with the few minutes he got. It was hard for him to put up the numbers last night as Kirilenko, Boozer, and Okur went off for 61 points and 31 rebounds. In the game, however, I was able to see good play coming from Craig Smith and Randy Foye for the Timberwolves.
I have but one question this week-- who does the voting on the ROY and the All-Rookie team, the media or the coaches?
RR: Rookie of the Year: Media
All-Rookie teams: Head coaches
Leo - Denver, Col.: Randolph Morris, formerly of the University of Kentucky and now of the Knicks. Let's assume he plays before the season ends. How long would he have rookie status? Just for the few games left this year? Both this year and next? Or, just until he plays 81 total games sometime next season?
RR: Once Morris played one second of one game (and he played 6:55 last night), he officially became a rookie for this season, and this season only. He will be considered a second-year player for the 2007-08 season.
If a player is on a roster but never plays in an NBA game (like Ersan Ilyasova did last season), they would still be considered a rookie next year. But once they play in a particular season, no matter how many games or minutes it is, that's their only rookie season.
Lance - Winnipeg, Man.: 17, 18 and 19 were the only picks that I would've picked Renaldo. No way would I have him over Rodney Carney. Carney will be a much better player and he also has mad hops.
RR: The Report agrees with respect to Carney, but there are a couple of guys that were picked ahead of him who we might not take over Balkman at this point.
Debby - Burlington, Ont.: You made a comment that Yasin from Brampton, Ont should write back and say how many Portland games he had watched. It's a sure bet that he at least had a chance to watch a ton more games played by Portland than any American had to watch the Raptors since they have been blacked out on American T.V.!
RR: Blacked out? Since when? The Report watched a piece of their win over Miami just last night! Neither the Raptors nor the Blazers have been on TNT, ESPN or ABC this season, but every American or Canadian with League Pass can watch both teams as much as much as they'd like ... on the internet too!
Ricky - Toronto, Ont.: Yes, another email from Toronto. Being a Raptors fan I'm totally thrilled with the performance of Andrea. He would get my vote for ROY if it wasn't for...well, Roy.
Stats wise, Andrea is pretty much on the same level with Roy. The biggest difference so far between the two of them is their impact on the court. I was fortunate enough to catch a few Blazer games on TV and I was amazed at what Roy can do.
Andrea helps the team by stretching the D and causes some match up problems. Knock down jumpers and 3s here and there. However, Roy helps lead the team and forces the opposing team to adjust. From the few games I saw, especially down the stretch, the opposing team is usually desperately trying to stop Roy from doing ANYTHING. That alone convinced me that Roy deserves the ROY more than Andrea does.
RR: The Report is speechless.
Smiley - Americus, Geo.: I would like to tell Shannon Brown that you are the best!!!!!! I love you!I know I don't really know you but its all good,still got much love for you! P.S. I would like to have your e-mail address so I can really show you just how big a fan of yours I am. Once again you are the best!!!!! Win for us sweetie! To the best rookie, Shannon Brown Cavs.
RR: Again ... speechless. Even more so.
Got a question or comment for the Rookie Report? Submit it here and we'll answer more mail next week, or you can open it up for discussion on the Fan Voice. As always, check for the latest Rookie Rankings on Monday.