SECAUCUS, NJ, Nov. 7, 2007 -- What do you do when the No. 3 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft is in your office and you write the Rookie Rankings for a living? You stop adding artists to your Pandora playlist and go interview him, of course.

So, before we get into the first official rankings of the season, here's an interview I had with Atlanta's budding big man, Al Horford, on Monday: I had Al Thornton first in the Preseason Rookie Rankings. I donít know if youíve seen him play or if youíve been following the boxscores. What are your thoughts on him?
Al Horford: I donít know what heís been doing with the Clippers but I do know that he is a very tough player and definitely a hard worker. You can just see by the way that heís improved throughout his career. Heís definitely a guy that I was personally impressed with in college. I had you in 2nd place. You were dropping double-doubles and it seemed like you didnít have the jitters and were comfortable out there finding your role. From the preseason up through the first couple of games, how do you think youíre doing?
AH: I think Iím doing pretty good. Itís an adjustment, definitely. Itís the first time Iím actually getting to play different teams in the NBA and Iím getting a feel for what their style of play is and how they play and that definitely has an impact on the way that you play. But, I think Iím kind of getting used to it. First game of your NBA career you beat the Dallas Mavericks, a team that won 67 games last year. What kind of experience was that?
AH: It was exciting. I think itís important for us to get a good start and I feel like we were able to actually come out with a lot of energy and close out the game the right way. Then [against Detroit] it was a game that came down to the end but itís one of those games where I feel like I learned and we can move on and focus on the next game.

Line of the Week
Kevin Durant (SEA)
11.4 at LAC
24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
10-19 FG, 3-6 3FG What do you do mentally to prepare yourself for the next opponent?
AH: As a team weíll go over personnel and all the plays in the morning at shoot around and Iíll get a better feel for the players then. I just have to get mentally prepared for the guys that are playing at the four and the five and what I have to do to help our team. What was your first road trip to Detroit like?
AH: That was pretty wild. The Palace gets pretty wild. Iíve never been in there and I was impressed because those fans were loud and the whole atmosphere was very electric. It was a good atmosphere. I love playing in those types of places. Do you and Chris Richard and Taurean Green and Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah keep in touch throughout this whole rookie process?
AH: Yeah, definitely. We always keep talking to each other and when one of us has a good game or somebody does something, everybody is on the phone calling each other saying, ďHey, whatís up?Ē So weíve definitely been keeping in touch, all of us. Does it help having Acie Law as a teammate as youíre going through the same thing and both have big expectations to live up to?
AH: Definitely. It definitely helps to have a rookie coming in with you. Thatís why I feel like we really have each otherís back when weíre out there learning. I feel like we both have a good feel for the game and thatís why weíre able to come in and help the team so much. What are you going to work on the rest of the year? Whatís the next step?
AH: Itís definitely working on post-ups which are different than college as far as guys post up farther out and youíre allowed to use the forearm and different things that impact the game, so itís one of those things thatís going to be a challenge for me to get used to that contact every night and all that stuff. I feel good about my game around the rim and defensively and rebounding, so, itís just improving in the post, the low post and keep working on improving my jumpshot. I feel very confident about it. This is your first time around. You donít know what the Hawks locker room was like last year, obviously, but whatís the feeling around that team and in the locker room and at practice? Is this a confident squad? Itís had some troubles in the last couple years Ö
AH: Itís a very confident team from what Iíve seen. I really feel like the thing that I see and you can sense is that everyone wants to win really bad. Theyíre excited for this season to start and having Acie and myself on the team to try to help them get to that next level. You can just feel it. You walk in there and you know that they want to win and itís a good situation for us, I feel, because thatís what we want to do as well.

Just one week into the rankings and I already have special guests lined up for you. I might have set the bar too high for myself early. How can I live up to that in the coming weeks? I should have started off with a Josh McRoberts instant message conversation today, then an e-mail exchange with Javaris Crittenton around Week 10 and then ended with a bang by doing a one-on-one interview with one of the top-five picks in April. Ah well.

Send me an e-mail if you have any advice for me as to how I can top myself next week. (And as always, feel free to lobby for your favorite rooks if you feel like I slighted them.)

Without further ado ...

Overall Rankings - Week 1

1. Kevin Durant, G-F, Seattle
4 35.5 24.0 6.3 2.8 1.0 0.80 .453 .357 .615
Preseason Rank: 3
Because it's such a long season and we can't just hand the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy to Kevin after just one week (even if it was one ridiculously amazing, jaw-dropping week) I'll point out that his .615 free throw percentage could use some improvement. Man, that was hard. I'll also point out that the Sonics are 0-4 and Durant is shot happy. His 21.5 field goal attempts per game makes him the first rookie to attempt at least 20 field goals per contest since Bernard King (21.1) in 1977-78.

2. Yi Jianlian, F, Milwaukee
4 26.0 9.8 4.8 1.0 0.8 2.0 .444 .000 .700
Preseason Rank: The Next 10
Some people questioned whether Yi would even suit up for the Bucks this season and now he is starting and has scored double digits in back-to-back games. Shows what some people know. The world will be watching on Friday when the athletic forward faces off with fellow countryman Yao Ming.

3. Al Horford, F-C, Atlanta
3 29.8 6.0 9.3 1.3 1.7 1.0 .430 .000 .400
Preseason Rank: 2
Horford stepped right into the starting lineup for the Hawks and his near double-double (nine points, 10 rebounds) in his debut helped Atlanta knock off the Mavericks.

4. Daequan Cook, G, Miami
2 23.5 10.5 3.5 1.5 1.0 0.0 .438 .429 1.000
Preseason Rank: Unranked
Cook came out like gangbusters in this first game, scoring 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting. His second game didn't go quite as well - four points and 0-for-4 from the field. He will continue to get time until Dwyane Wade returns to form.

5. Jeff Green, F, Seattle
4 18.3 7.3 3.5 0.3 0.5 0.5 .391 .000 .733
Preseason Rank: The Next 10
Durant and just about any other first-year player would comprise the best rookie tandem in the league, but Green is certainly shouldering his fair share of the load. His finest performance to date was a 14-point, seven-rebound gem vs. the Clippers.

6. Acie Law, G, Atlanta
3 20.7 8.7 1.3 1.0 0.7 0.0 .600 .500 .857
Preseason Rank: The Next 10
It only took Law three games to overtake the reigns from Anthony Johnson, Speedy Claxton and Tyronn Lue as the Hawks starting point guard. Now that he runs the show he'll have to do something about getting his assists up. Otherwise, his shooting percentages look fantastic.

7. Luis Scola, F, Houston
5 18.0 3.4 4.6 1.0 0.6 0.4 .364 .000 .200
Preseson Rank: 4
All successful teams need somebody to come in and do the dirty work - just look at last year's Finals teams that had Fabricio Oberto and Anderson Varejao setting picks, taking charges and cleaning the glass. Scola is that guy for Houston.

8. Al Thornton, F, L.A. Clippers
3 16.7 5.3 3.0 1.0 0.3 0.0 .389 .250 .250
Preseason Rank: 1
As a Sixers fan that saw my team pass on Thornton, a four-year player in the ACC, for Thaddeus Young on draft night I was very upset. When Thornton tore through the preseason with averages of 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, I was livid. Now that he's coming back down to earth with subpar shooting percentages and less playing time, I'm starting to calm down. Serenity now.

9. Jared Dudley, F, Charlotte
3 10.7 6.7 4.7 0.3 0.3 0.0 .545 .000 .571
Preseason Rank: Unranked
Known at Boston College for his effervescent style and contagious energy on the court, Dudley finally got a chance to really bring his act to the NBA on Nov. 6 against the Suns when he exploded for 16 points and 11 rebounds after combining for just four points and three rebounds in his first two appearances.

10. Juan Carlos Navarro, G, Memphis
2 18.0 6.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 .333 .444 .000
Preseason Rank: 8
Through his first two games, all of Navarro's field goals have been 3-pointers.

The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Arron Afflalo (DET), Marco Belinelli (GSW), Corey Brewer (MIN), Javaris Crittenton (LAL), Ian Mahinmi (SAS), Joakim Noah (CHI), Jason Smith (PHI), Darius Washington (SAS), Julian Wright (NOH), Nick Young (WAS)



Know what 32-point blowouts are good for? Seeing rookies in action! The Suns blitzed the Bobcats on Tuesday night and Alando Tucker (PHX) and Jermareo Davidson (CHA) made their NBA debuts. Tucker scored two points in four minutes while Davidson put in six points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes of burn.
Philadelphia boasts a trio of rookies, including lottery pick Thaddeus Young and second rounder Herbert Hill, but it has been Jason Smith, selected No. 20 by the Miami Heat and traded to the Sixers on draft night, who has been just right. Young and Hill have racked up DNPs while Smith is averaging 3.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13.3 minutes a night over the Sixersí first three games.
Sean Williams' (NJN) only appearance ended up being a significant amount of PT as he racked up four points and four rebounds in 21 minutes on Nov. 2 when New Jersey lost to Toronto by 37 points.
Jamario Moon (TOR) found himself in a similar situation to Williams on Tuesday night when he got 14 minutes in his first chance on the court because the Raptors were down big in Milwaukee.
Darius Washington (SAS) is the Spurs' backup point guard behind Tony Parker as Jacque Vaughn recovers from a strained left calf.
Ian Mahinmi (SAS), hailing from France, is another international gem picked up by R.C. Buford and the Spurs.
With Rip Hamilton away from the team expecting the birth of his child, Arron Afflalo (DET) stepped into the starting lineup at shooting guard for two games.
Darryl Watkins (SAC) went undrafted out of Syracuse University, but has latched on to the Kings while Ron Artest is suspended and Spencer Hawes prepares to come back from a knee injury.
If Morris Almond (UTA) ends up being half as good of a player as he is a blogger, expect the Jazz to repeat last year's deep playoff run.
The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: Herbert Hill (PHI), Thaddeus Young (PHI), Gabe Pruitt (BOS), Brandon Wallace (BOS), Oleksiy Pecherov (WAS), Joel Anthony (MIA), Cheikh Samb (DET), Rodney Stuckey (DET), Morris Almond (UTA), Kyrylo Fesenko (UTA), Josh McRoberts (POR), Mike Conley (MEM), Ramon Sessions (MIL), Marcin Gortat (ORL), Thomas Gardner (CHI), JamesOn Curry (CHI), Aaron Brooks (HOU), Carl Landry (HOU), Spencer Hawes (SAC), Adam Haluska (NOH), Demetris Nichols (CLE), Stephane Lasme (GSW) and Kosta Perovic (GSW), Wilson Chandler (NYK).

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