SECAUCUS, March 5, 2008 -- They say that when one door closes another one opens and in the NBA that statement is twice as true.

When the regular season comes to an end on April 16, two more seasons begin: the postseason and awards season.

There's Most Improved, Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year, Sixth Man, Defensive Player, MVP and the one trophy that's the reason why this column is dedicated to keeping track of who is first in line to receive the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy on any given Wednesday throughout the course of the year - Rookie of the Year.

As fans have been swept away by the fierce battle between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James for MVP, some of them have cluttered my e-mail inbox using the same arguments for who should be Rookie of the Year that they use to determine who should be MVP.

What's the one argument that comes up over and over again?

"(Horford, Moon, Scola, Landry, Young, etc.) is playing on a playoff contender while (Durant, Thornton, Navarro, Green, Conley, etc.) is playing on a team that's 20 games below .500! The Rookie of the Year has to go to the player on the better team!"

Wait, really? Does it? Isn't the draft lottery set up to reward the 14 teams that don't make the playoffs with the top picks so that they can rebuild with fresh talent?

So if all of these top-tier rookies are ending up on teams that struggled the year before they came into the NBA, shouldn't team record only be a minor determining factor in who is named Rookie of the Year?

Line of the Week
Al Horford (ATL)
Feb. 27 vs. SAC
16 points, 14 reb
6-8 FG, 4-4 FT, 4 ast Video
Take a look at the Rookie of the Year winners from the last 15 seasons and their team record:

2007 – Brandon Roy, Blazers (32-50)
2006 – Chris Paul, Hornets (38-44)
2005 – Emeka Okafor, Bobcats (18-64)
2004 – LeBron James, Cavaliers (35-47)
2003 – Amare Stoudemire, Suns (44-38)
2002 – Pau Gasol, Grizzlies (23-59)
2001 – Mike Miller, Magic (43-39)
2000 – Elton Brand, Clippers (15-67); Steve Francis, Rockets (34-48)
1999 – Vince Carter, Raptors (23-27)
1998 – Tim Duncan, Spurs (56-26)
1997 – Allen Iverson, Sixers (22-60)
1996 – Damon Stoudamire, Raptors (21-61)
1995 – Grant Hill, Pistons (28-54); Jason Kidd, Mavericks (36-46)
1994 – Chris Webber, Warriors (50-32)
1993 – Shaquille O’Neal, Magic (41-41)

Out of the last 17 players to win the award, only five of them played on teams with .500 records or better. Sure, Amare helped the Suns get back to the playoffs, but the team already had a ton of talent in Stephon Marbury, Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion. Mike Miller was a role player. Duncan turned the Spurs around immediately, but remember that he's one of the 10 greatest players of all time and San Antonio got a healthy David Robinson back. Webber helped the Warriors get back to the 50-win mark, but getting Chris Mullin and Billy Owens off the injury list also played a big part. Shaq was breaking baskets left and right, and still Orlando lost just as many games as it won.

Winning isn't everything when it comes to Rookie of the Year. Just last season, Andrea Bargnani helped the Raptors make the playoffs, but Roy got the trophy for leading a 32-win team. When LeBron won it, Carmelo Anthony had a higher scoring average and led Denver to the postseason for the first time in eight years.

History shows that the ROY is an individual award and not based on team record.

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  • Korleone Young slide of the week: Mike Conley MEM (-3).
    Eddie Gottlieb rise of the week: Luis Scola HOU (+1).

    Overall Rankings - Week 18

    1. Al Horford, F-C, Atlanta
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    57 31.8 9.7
    10.0
    1.3 0.9 1.0 .484 .000 .692
    Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 3
    Occupying the No. 1 spot for the third straight week and taking home Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors for February, Horford's campaign is picking up steam faster than Hillary Clinton's. Three double-doubles in four games last week didn't hurt either.

    2. Kevin Durant, G-F, Seattle
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    58
    33.5
    19.4
    4.2 2.3 1.0 1.0 .402 .282 .869
    Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 2
    The dominant story following Durant this week was that pundits had suddenly turned on the Seattle rookie and were now bashing him instead of praising him. I think I've been fair to KD from jumpstart. When I point out his shooting percentage, I'll also mention his lack of help on the offensive end. When I highlight his team's record, I'll also note that he's taking on a task of leading the Sonics while other first-year players are merely being woven into a unit. Horford might have momentum on his side right now, but Durant is still playing his heart out as witnessed by his 20-point, seven-rebound, five-assist performance on the road against Detroit.

    3. Luis Scola, F-C, Houston
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    59 22.3 9.1 5.5 1.3 0.7 0.2 .529 .000 .619
    Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 56 by San Antonio in 2002
    ... And now introducing the first Western Conference Rookie of the Month of the 2007-08 season NOT named Kevin Durant! The Rockets are 3-0 since Yao went out and Scola stepped up in the starting lineup. It's not like he's been a seat filler at the Oscars when the stars go up on stage, he's playing like a star himself with averages of 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in his last three games.

    4. Al Thornton, F, L.A. Clippers
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    55 23.9 11.5 4.1 1.0 0.5 0.3 .439 .354 .734
    Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 14
    Unfortunately for Thornton, tying his career high with 33 points against Denver on Friday was nullified a few days later by his 10 turnovers in a 26-point loss to the Sixers.

    5. Jamario Moon, F, Toronto
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    55 28.4 8.4 6.1 1.2
    1.0
    1.4 .467 .310 .733
    Last Week: 5 | Drafted: Undrafted
    Moon's numbers compare favorably to his idol, Scottie Pippen's rookie season in 1987-88 when Pip averaged 7.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals for the Bulls. However, Scottie was just 22-years old when he started his rookie season. Moon is 27. By the time Pippen was 27, he was averaging 18.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists en route to his second of six rings with the Bulls.

    6. Juan Carlos Navarro, G, Memphis
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    60 26.3 10.9 2.7 2.2 0.6 0.0 .411
    .374
    0.838
    Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 40 by Washington in 2002
    Navarro is one of only three rookies to average at least 10 points per game this season (along with Durant and Thornton), the fewest amount of rookies to do so since 2000-01.

    7. Thaddeus Young, F, Philadelphia
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    53 19.0 7.1 4.1 0.6 0.9 0.1 .532 .333 .696
    Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 12
    Back on Dec. 5, when the Sixers had a 5-13 record and Thaddeus Young was averaging 2.6 points per game, if somebody told you that Philadelphia would have the seventh best record in the East three months later with Young playing a key role in the surge, would you have believed them?

    8. Carl Landry, F, Houston
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    26 16.2 8.0 5.0 0.5 0.5 0.2
    .641
    .000 .641
    Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 31
    In case you missed it, Landry got his very own Rookie Rankings Mailbag on Friday, so check out the link if you haven't already. There is one amazing stat that I found over the weekend that I would have liked to include: the Rockets are 19-2 this season when Landry plays 10 minutes or more. Pretty incredible.

    9. Jeff Green, F, Seattle
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    58 25.8 9.1 4.8 1.3 0.4 0.6 .439 .225 .699
    Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 5
    FOXSports.com's Mike Kahn filled out his draft report card now that the dust has settled and gave Green a C, but that's not that bad considering he only gave four rookies - Durant, Horford, Thaddeus Young and Thornton - a better grade.

    10. Mike Conley, G, Memphis
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    31 26.2 9.0 2.2
    4.5
    1.0 0.0 .428 .271 .740
    Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 4
    Conley went 6-for-21 with just five assists against three turnovers in three losses last week. In the same span, Javaris Crittenton was 17-for-37 with nine assists against two turnovers. Throw in Kyle Lowry's development and Memphis fans have at least one positive thing to focus on until April 16 - a contested point guard race - even if their team is 14-46 and riding a nine-game losing streak.
    RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

    The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Corey Brewer (MIN), Javaris Crittenton (MEM), Glen Davis (BOS), Jared Dudley (CHA), Joakim Noah (CHI), Oleksiy Pecherov (WAS), Rodney Stuckey (DET), Sean Williams (NJN), Brandan Wright (GSW), Yi Jianlian (MIL)


    Noteworthy

    Gortat

    It took a while, but Marcin Gortat (ORL) finally broke his DNP streak and defected from The HNPAMY Club in one fell swoop on March 1 by getting in a game for the first time all season (and scoring a basket to boot) against the Knicks.
    Yi Jianlian (MIL) might have fallen out of the top 10, but that didn't stop the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from devoting a whole Web Site, Yi's World to the rookie out of China.
    Corey Brewer (MIN) seemed to have turned the corner last week by going 5-for-10 in back-to-back games en route to 14 and 15 points against the Cavaliers and Sonics, respectively, but then he went down with a thigh contusion and missed the Timberwolves game against the Bobcats on Tuesday.
    The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: Herbert Hill** (PHI), Greg Oden** (POR), Ramon Sessions** (MIL), JamesOn Curry* (CHI)
    * = assigned to the D-League
    ** = injured

    Got beef with the rankings or have a comment or question for the Rookie Report? Send the Report an e-mail.