NEW YORK, NY, April 2, 2008 -- With the regular season coming to an end in just two short weeks, the themes for the remaining Rookie Rankings sort of write themselves.

Next week will be the time to do a total run down of the class from surprises to disappointments, successes to failures, drafted too highs to drafted too lows ... you know, a comprehensive Just Set Off The Metal Detector Five Times And Here Comes The Guy Wearing Rubber Gloves type of inspection.

The week after that, the final rankings of the season, will be devoted to whoever ends up No. 1.

So what does that leave for today? The playoffs!

The playoffs are the reason that every player on every team finds the 82-game grind worth it. When you do it up big in the regular season, your hometown fans talk about you. When you dominate in the playoffs, the whole country - no, the whole world - has your name on their lips.

If you score 30 points in a regular season game as a rookie, you helped out somebody's fantasy squad. If you score 30 points in a playoff game as a rookie, you helped out your legacy in the history of the game. Just ask Daniel Gibson.

Line of the Week
Luis Scola (HOU)
March 26 vs. MIN
18 points, 18 reb
8-15 FG, 3 stl Video
So, in the spirit of Boobie's out-of-nowhere breakout last spring, I'm offering a ranking within the rankings this week:

The Top 10 Rookies Most Crucial To Their Teams' Playoff Success

10. Julian Wright - New Orleans - If the Hornets end up with the No. 1 spot and play either Denver or Golden State in the first round, the series will surely feature a run-and-gun pace which Wright thrives in.
9. Arron Afflalo - Detroit - If the Pistons can make a deep playoff run, you think a fresh pair of legs attached to a mind for defense could help during the course of a seven-game series? Yup.
8. Carl Landry - Houston - If the postseason started today, the Rockets would draw the Lakers in the 3-6 matchup and if that showdown should occur with a healthy Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the mix, Houston will need all the size it can get.
7. Glen Davis - Boston - If Boston ends up fulfilling its Finals goal, there is going to be a game somewhere along the line that KG and/or Kendrick Perkins is going to get in foul trouble and when that happens, Big Baby will be asked to grow up on the big stage.
6. Rodney Stuckey - Detroit - Stuckey showed his game-changing ability with a 27-point outburst against Minnesota last week and he could be a secret weapon for Motown come late April.
5. Jamario Moon - Toronto - The great part about Moon's game is his athleticism and who better to hound Rashard Lewis or Richard Hamilton in the first round than Moon and his terrific length?
4. Thaddeus Young - Philadelphia - Philadelphia has been one of the hottest teams in the league since the All-Star break and during that same time, Young has been one of the hottest rookies. He's a rare example of a player who doesn't know how good he can be and is consequently pushing his ceiling higher and higher every night.
3. Nick Young - Washington - If Gilbert Arenas isn't back for the playoffs, Young might be the Wizards best scoring guard.
2. Al Horford - Atlanta - Atlanta is set to make its first playoff appearance since 1999, and if the Hawks want it to last more than four games, they'll need Horford to help neutralize either Kevin Garnett or Rasheed Wallace in the first round.
1. Luis Scola - Houston - If the Rockets are going to show to the league that their 22-game win streak wasn't a fluke, they'll need to get out of the first round. It's that simple. Scola figures to be a big part of that challenge.

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  • Korleone Young slide of the week: J.C. Navarro MEM (-3).
    Eddie Gottlieb rise of the week: A. Thornton LAC (+2).

    Overall Rankings - Week 22

    1. Kevin Durant, G-F, Seattle
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    72
    34.0
    19.9
    4.1 2.2 1.0 0.9 .425 .284
    .876
    Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 2
    Want to know just how good of a month it was for Durant? Look at his shooting percentage. In October and November, he played 17 games and shot better than .500 from the field in just five of them. In December he only reached the even plateau in four out of 13 games. January he was 4-for-15 and February he was an anemic 1-for-11. That adds up to only shooting .500 or better in 14 of his first 56 games (.250). In March he accomplished the feat in 12 out of 16 games (.750). That's an ENORMOUS turnaround.

    2. Al Horford, F-C, Atlanta
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    73 31.3 10.0
    9.6
    1.5 0.8 1.0 .497 .000 .727
    Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 3
    Horford had a strong week, averaging 15.0 points per game as the Hawks went 4-0 to continue their push towards the playoffs. A lot has been written about his rebounding ability (rightfully so -- he hauled in 13 against the Knicks on Sunday) but the X-factor stat for big men, to me, is free throw percentage and Al is proving quite able from the charity stripe. Last week he had two perfect freebie games, netting 8-of-8 foul shot attempts against Chicago and 7-of-7 against Memphis.

    3. Luis Scola, F-C, Houston
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    74 24.0 10.0 6.1 1.2 0.7 0.2 .514 .000 .668
    Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 56 by San Antonio in 2002
    This season Scola has proven he belongs in the league, he has proven that the Rockets are more than just Yao Ming and he's proven that the game of basketball just comes down to effort. The question remains, has he proven enough to the Rookie of the Year committee to make them think of Scola as a rookie and not a veteran who was already a pro for seven years overseas?

    4. Al Thornton, F, L.A. Clippers
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    71 26.2 12.5 4.3 1.1 0.6 0.5 .431 .342 .746
    Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 14
    Thornton showed some Wolverine-like recovery skills last week, as he shook off a sore hamstring to score 39 points against the Grizzlies on March 29, the highest scoring total for a rookie since Charlie Villanueva scored 48 points for the Raptors on March 26, 2006. His encore wasn't bad either, as he followed up the outburst with 26 points against the Mavericks two days later.

    5. Jamario Moon, F, Toronto
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    70 28.2 8.6 6.3 1.2
    1.1
    1.4 .487 .318 .722
    Last Week: 4 | Drafted: Undrafted
    Toronto's lead over Philadelphia for the East's No. 6 spot has slipped to just a half a game, but you can't blame Moon. As his minutes dipped slightly, his efficiency increased. Odysseus (Thought I retired that nickname, didn't you?) shot 18-for-23 (.783) in four games last week - three of them resulting in Raptors wins.

    6. Thaddeus Young, F, Philadelphia
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    67 20.0 7.9 4.2 0.7 0.9 0.1 .536 .286 .759
    Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 12
    After starting 18 games since Jan. 1, it looks like Young has settled in as a Sixers reserve as he's popped in off the pine in Philly's last six games. Young teams with Lou Williams and Rodney Carney to give Philadelphia one of the most athletic benches in the league.

    7. Jeff Green, F, Seattle
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    72 27.2 9.9 4.6 1.5 0.5 0.6 .433 .302 .729
    Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 5
    Seeing Georgetown lose to Davidson in the NCAA Tournament made me wonder, Will Jeff Green's former Hoyas teammate, Roy Hibbert, have a better or worse rookie season than Green did? My guess is that the 7-2 big man will trump Green in field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks, but I'm not sure what else.

    8. Joakim Noah, F, Chicago
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    66 19.5 6.0 5.5 1.1 0.9 0.8 .471 .000 .699
    Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 9
    An NBA season is filled with constant little battles that end up deciding one's success or failure -- trying to be the first man in suicides, trying to stop your man on a lone possession, trying to help your team outscore the other team each quarter, trying to help your team outscore the other team each game . In order to end up on the winning side of the majority of these mini tests, a player needs an endless supply of competitive spirit. Watch Joakim Noah play a game and you'll see what competitive drive looks like.

    9. Nick Young, G, Washington
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    69 15.3 7.5 1.6 0.9 0.5 0.1 .440 .400 .822
    Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 16
    Young, who has been praised by teammate Gilbert Arenas to possess a "Kobe-like game", had his NBA coming-of-age moment against none other than KB24 and the Lakers. Young scored a career-high 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting and was the Wizards go-to guy down the stretch as Washington almost pulled off the road upset in overtime.

    10. Juan Carlos Navarro, G, Memphis
    G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
    74 25.7 11.0 2.6 2.1 0.6 0.0 .408 .369 0.833
    Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 40 by Washington in 2002
    He won't win Rookie of the Year, but he will win my Yo-Yo Award for most rises and falls in the rankings this season. You don't know if you'll get the 0-for-3 in 11 minutes performance by Navarro that's invisible as a fishing line (like he did against the Clippers on March 29) or the 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting in 25 minutes like he did against the Hawks on March 31 that creates an impression as big as an offensive lineman sitting on a memory foam mattress.
    RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

    The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Arron Afflalo (DET), Corey Brewer (MIN), Mike Conley (MEM), Daequan Cook (MIA), Glen Davis (BOS), Jared Dudley (CHA), Carl Landry (HOU), Rodney Stuckey (DET), Sean Williams (NJN), Yi Jianlian (MIL)


    Noteworthy

    Brewer

    Corey Brewer (MIN) gave Timberwolves fans a glimpse of his off-the-charts potential last week as he put together 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in a win over Utah.
    Javaris Crittenton (MEM) remains behind Kyle Lowry, Mike Miller, Mike Conley and Juan Carlos Navarro in the Grizzlies' guard rotation but if he can have more games like the 13-point, nine-rebound, three-assist gem he had against Sacramento last week, Memphis will have to either find him some minutes or at the very least have a valuable trade chip heading into the offseason.
    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.