SECAUCUS, NJ, March 26, 2008 -- This week weíll start the rankings with a mailbag. I know the two are usually separate, but if Smucker's can put peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, I think I can get away with combining the mailbag and rankings one week.

Lately Iíve come to the conclusion that I must be some kind of masochist. Just look at my behavior:

For starters, the fact that Iím a Philadelphia sports fan and willingly root for a city that hasnít won a major pro sports championship in 25 years can only be classified as a form of self abuse.

Then there are the times when Iím flipping through the channels and I drop whatever else Iím doing to watch Rudy for the 900th time, knowing full well that Iíll be misty eyed when Fortune shows up in the stands for the Georgia Tech game at the end. That canít be healthy.

And I canít tell you how many nights Iíve spent watching reality TV with my girlfriend, only to end up being angry with myself at the end of the evening for A) Wasting my time watching garbage B) Not watching a basketball game instead.

In honor of this incessant desire to inflict pain upon myself, consider this mailbag another exercise in masochism. This week Iím giving you all the best of the hate.

After opening the first dozen or so of your e-mails following last weekís Rookie Rankings, a theme started to develop: Iím an idiot.

Or, at least a small, yet vocal minority of my readers seem to think so.

Rather than get upset about it and erase the e-mails that trashed me and only use the positive notes, Iíve compiled the best insults and arguments directed my way.

Usually Iíd just write, ďEnjoy,Ē and get to the e-mails, but since this week is all about the naysayer, I hope you hate this.

Line of the Week
Spencer Hawes (SAC)
March 22 at MEM
19 points, 12 reb
9-13 FG, 2 ast, 3 blk Video

Lee, Location Unknown - That was the worst piece of writing I think I have ever read.
Obviously you've never read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Alexei, Vancouver, Canada - Starting off the aritcle with ďA man from...Ē was a nice beginning, but sticking with it all the way through was terrible. Your article was painful to read.
Starting your e-mail off with a compliment was a nice beginning, but the insult at the end was terrible. Variety is the spice of life, I try to bring something new to the table every week to keep you all reading.

Nick, Elk Grove, CA - I really want to know why Spencer Hawes isn't at least listed in your top 20. I get that the Kings are rebuilding and aren't an impact team, but Hawes is playing with a lot of poise for a rookie and has a complete game. His numbers are better than Julian Wrightís overall, and you have Wright at No. 10 ... I think you should look at individual play, not team seeding before you lock in these rankings.
Hawes has put up two huge games this month (14 points, eight rebounds, four blocks against the Lakers and 19, 12 and three against the Grizzlies), but what about his 2-for-9 with five turnovers against Phoenix or his invisible game against the Spurs? At the time of publication last week, Wright seemed to be getting stronger by the game and was coming off of back-to-back double digit scoring efforts. The same thing that separates good flan from bad flan is what gets you moving up in my rankings -- consistency. Of course, since I put Wright at No. 10 last week, he went 2-for-8 over two games, so you'll see he relinquished his spot.

Juan, Rosario, Argentina - Are you really believing this or is David Stern pointing a contract to your head?

Horford is a decent rookie on some days, and on other days not, but Durant??? He is just an athletic freak and nothing else at the moment. The game is a lot more than jumping and making commercials.

The Commisioner has more important things to worry about than my column, I assure you. Durant's play in March has been better than his play in any other month all season, while Horford's offense has been spotty. It's a close race, but Durant's flashes of brilliance combined with his added responsibility of being the face of the franchise at just 19-years old, gives him the edge for now.

SJ, Atlanta, GA - There is NO WAY Al Horford shouldnít be on top of this list. I think you should stop sucking up to Kevin Durant, just because of his name. Yes, he MIGHT be a superstar in the making, but he hasn't done enough to be on the top of the rookie list. Al has. Period! End of story.
According to Juan I'm not sucking up to Durant because of his name, but because David Stern told me to. Get it straight.

Alejandro, Boston, MA - I can't believe that's the only thing you have to say about Scola. I wish you were smarter than that. Thank God we have the much better ESPN rankings in which Scola is ranked No. 1 right now.

Clearly, you don't understand anything about basketball. Also, if Scola played for the Hawks, he would have destroyed Horford's numbers, give me a break. You can't put him ahead of Scola.

Another person using the "if this guy was on a worse team, he'd be better" argument. Drop that fantasy, it's a flawed exercise in presumption. Scola is ranked where is he for two reasons: Yao Ming went out and his minutes increased, and the Rockets went on a 22-game winning streak. What makes you say that Scola's numbers would be so much better on the Hawks? I could just as easily counter and say that if you put Horford on the Rockets at the beginning of the season he would have started from day one at the 4, had the benefit of playing with better teammates all year long and his numbers would have destroyed Scola's even more than they already do.

Chris, Florida - Your Rookie Rankings are a joke. Anyone who watches basketball and has watched Al Thorton and Scola can obviously see that Thorton is a much better player. But you have Scola ranked higher all the time. I donít think you watch much basketball and Iím sure the guy who does this job should.
Now, if I really listened to all of you here's how the rankings would play out: SJ says Horford is better than Durant. Alejandro says Scola is better than Horford. Chris says Thornton is better than Scola. Al Thornton, your 2008 NBA Rookie of the Year!!!!

Dr. J, Bismarck, ND - So now Al Horfordís nickname is ďBig AlĒ? I believe that it is already taken by the real Big Al, Al Jefferson.
This coming from a guy who calls himself "Dr. J"? Unless Julius Erving moved to North Dakota, you're just as guilty of cribbing a nickname.

Tom, Troy, NH - What, No "Big Baby" Glen Davis? Talk about a rookie who makes an impact off the bench, hustle, and basketball smarts, Glen has it all. If he was on a lousy team, he would be on the list.
Glen has it all besides consistent playing time and a rebounding average up to par for a guy who measures 6-9, 289 pounds. Listen, he works hard and he hustles, but if you watch him play the only thing he's looking to do when he gets in is score and that's not what the Celtics really need from him.

JR, Toronto, Canada - ďMoon hauled in a career-high 14 rebounds against Miami on Wednesday, but come on, it was against Miami. You can't really brag about that one." Hey, don't hate. He's in the NBA, youíre not.
I'm not the one hating. It was a joke. If I was hating my response to you would be, "I write for, you don't." But since I'm not hating, I won't write that.

Fede, Buenos Aires, Argentina - ďNo offense to Scola, but there is no way that he should be getting as many shots as Tracy McGrady. With 30 shots by Scola over the last two games to McGrady's 32, no wonder the Rockets have fallen into a two-game skid after their magnificent 22-game run". No offense, but that was just an ignorant comment. Why shouldnít the Rockets give more the ball to Scola than to T-Mac if he is shooting a .524 while McGrady only .435? Start looking at the stats, it might be helpful for your job. Base your remarks on facts (stats) and not on personal views or partisan opinions.

P.S. I actually canít believe youíre blaming Scola for the two losses in a row. Itís just ridiculous. Ohhh, trueee!!! T-Mac is from the US, whereas, Scola is an international player!!!

My assertion that Scola shouldn't be shooting as much as Tracy McGrady elicited more response than anything else in last week's column. I'm aware of the shooting percentage disparity between the two players, but do you really want Luis Scola shooting as much as Tracy McGrady? Does that sound like the proper use of talent? Scola is a fine player. He's good around the rim and can knock down a mid-range jumper, but Tracy McGrady is a two-time scoring champion who once scored 13 points in 33 seconds against the Spurs. Ask any GM in the league and they would rather have T-Mac getting six to eight of those shots that Scola took. Scola doesn't have the offensive repertoire to be a No. 1 option. As for liking a US player over an international one, I may be a patriot but I'm not an idiot. I don't judge guys based on where they're from, I judge based on how they play.

Ariel, Rosario, Argentina - McMenamin, are you blind?
No, just a little bleary eyed ... Rudy just came on TV.

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  • Korleone Young slide of the week: Al Thornton LAC (-2).
    Eddie Gottlieb rise of the week: Three players (+1).

    Overall Rankings - Week 21

    1. Kevin Durant, G-F, Seattle
    4.1 2.2 1.0 1.0 .421 .285
    Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 2
    The Sonics snapped an 11-game losing steak thanks to Durant's efficient 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting against the Blazers on Monday. The performance gave temporary solace to Seattle fans who are reeling from the thought of their team moving to Oklahoma City.

    2. Al Horford, F-C, Atlanta
    69 31.5 9.7
    1.5 0.8 1.0 .495 .000 .711
    Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 3
    It's certainly impressive that Horford nabbed double-digit rebounds in his last five games, but in his most recent contest he came up with his worse offensive showing to date. The 6-10 big man had a season-low three points on 1-for-5 shooting in the Hawks loss to the Bulls on Tuesday. The atrocious offense couldn't have come at a worse time as Atlanta leads New Jersey by just a half a game for the No. 8 spot in the East, with Indiana (one and a half games) and Chicago (two games) lurking not far behind.

    3. Luis Scola, F-C, Houston
    71 23.5 9.6 5.9 1.2 0.7 0.2 .512 .000 .633
    Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 56 by San Antonio in 2002
    Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle offered up a fair assessment of why Scola is deserving of Rookie of the Year this week; it's worth a read. The best endorsement in the piece comes from Shane Battier who Campbell quotes as saying, "I really respect [Scola's] professionalism. He brings it every single night. Believe me, that's rarer than you'd think in this league."

    4. Jamario Moon, F, Toronto
    66 28.3 8.5 6.4 1.2
    1.4 .473 .298 .746
    Last Week: 5 | Drafted: Undrafted
    I know Moon reads these rankings, so I had to wonder if the Toronto rookie had any extra motivation after I poked fun at his rebound total against Miami last week because he followed that game up with a new career-high of 15 boards against the Nuggets who feature Marcus Camby, a top-notch glass cleaner. It reminded me of that story where Michael Jordan dunked on John Stockton and a fan yelled out telling him to pick on somebody his own size. Jordan immediately stole the ball and dunked on Mel Turpin, Utah's 7-footer and responded to the fan, "Was he big enough?" Yeah, Jamario, Camby was big enough.

    5. Thaddeus Young, F, Philadelphia
    63 19.9 7.7 4.3 0.7 1.0 0.1 .533 .308 .744
    Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 12
    Thaddeus Young's line in the Sixers' upset win against the Celtics on Monday: 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting and nine rebounds in 25 minutes. Kevin Garnett's line in the same game: 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting and five rebounds in 32 minutes. That's just plain scary potential.

    6. Al Thornton, F, L.A. Clippers
    67 25.4 11.7 4.3 1.1 0.5 0.5 .424 .314 .727
    Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 14
    The injury bug hit Thornton pretty hard the last couple of weeks. First it was a leg contusion, then it was a sore hamstring. "I can't really explode and move the way I want," Thornton told the L.A. Times after failing to score in double digits for the fifth time in six games. "That's the thing that's kind of irritating me right now."

    7. Juan Carlos Navarro, G, Memphis
    70 26.2 11.1 2.6 2.2 0.6 0.0 .407 .373 0.837
    Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 40 by Washington in 2002
    Navarro scored 22 points on 6-for-9 shooting from deep against Sacramento last week and followed that performance with zero points on 0-for-5 shooting against Denver. I haven't seen that much of a precipitous decline in success from one venture to the next since the Baha Men came out with Holla! on the heels of Who Let the Dogs Out?

    8. Jeff Green, F, Seattle
    69 26.8 9.7 4.7 1.5 0.5 0.6 .433 .298 .729
    Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 5's David Thorpe wrote an interesting feature this week where he assigns one veteran to each of the top rookies to model their game after. He suggested Jeff Green should try to be like Kobe Bryant. My response to that is, shouldn't every 6-6 to 6-8 guy coming into the league aspire to play like Kobe?

    9. Joakim Noah, F, Chicago
    62 18.9 5.8 5.3 1.0 0.8 0.7 .475 .000 .689
    Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 9
    There's something about late March that gets Noah playing at his best. He's back in the Top 10 after near double-doubles in back-to-back games against the Pacers (16 points, eight rebounds) and the Hawks (13 and nine).

    10. Carl Landry, F, Houston
    31 16.9 8.7 5.1 0.5 0.4 0.2
    .000 .678
    Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 31
    Landry was out two weeks with a sore knee, but picked up right where he left off with 17 points and nine rebounds against the Warriors when he returned last Friday. I'm sure he's happy to be back, but he's probably even happier to not have a game on Friday so he can watch his brother play in the Sweet 16 when Wisconsin goes up against Davidson.
    RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

    The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Corey Brewer (MIN), Mike Conley (MEM), Daequan Cook (MIA), Glen Davis (BOS), Jared Dudley (CHA), Spencer Hawes (SAC), Rodney Stuckey (DET), Sean Williams (NJN), Julian Wright (NOH), Nick Young (WAS)



    Stephane Lasme (MIA) started off the year on the Warriors, spent the bulk of the season in the D-League after being released, but made his way back to the league last week when the Heat added Lasme and two other rookies in Kasib Powell and Blake Ahearn.
    Wilson Chandler (NYK) continues to shine in his extended audition late in the season as he averaged 14.0 points on .576 shooting in three games last week.
    The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: Herbert Hill** (PHI), Greg Oden** (POR), 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.