LOS ANGELES, Nov. 5, 2008 -- Before Facebook.com became the greatest procrastination tool known to mankind, there used to be a thing called the freshman facebook that first-year college students would receive when they arrived on campus.
The freshman facebook included a head shot of all of the incoming students who cared enough to send one in (usually a leftover from their photo shoot for their senior yearbook), followed by a brief info splurge including their hometown, intended major, likes/dislikes and favorite activities.
There are 55 “freshmen” in the NBA this season and for the first Rookie Rankings of the 2008-09 regular season I thought it would be appropriate to introduce you to a few of them Facebook.com News Feed style.
I’d have to guess that at least half of the rookie class actually has their own Facebook.com accounts, but instead of “friending” a bunch of strangers, I’ll just give you a few fictional estimations of what some of the under-the-radar rookies’ Status Updates might say a week into their NBA careers.
Danilo is … unhappy his playing time has been cut to seven minutes or less.
(Knicks rookie Gallinari has logged four, eight and zero minutes in New York’s three games thus far.)
Roko is … wondering if his nicknames from Coach Mitchell will get any worse than “Bret Michaels ‘Roko’ Love.”
(Raptors rookie Ukic is the team’s Croatian backup point guard and should be glad that ‘Roko Ono’ is already played out.)
Nicolas is … watching Back to the Future for the 1,671st time.
(Trail Blazers rookie Batum wears No. 88 to commemorate his year of birth, but it would be a lot cooler if he was referencing how fast Doc Brown’s Dolorean had to go.)
JaVale is … missing mom’s home cooking and drop step lessons in the low post.
(Wizards rookie McGee has two parents who played professional basketball, including his mother Pamela McGee who played in the WNBA.)
Bobby is … the Whitney jokes have to stop.
(Kings rookie Brown shares his name with the former New Edition star.)
Jawad is … feeling old.
(Cavs rookie Williams is older than seven players on his team, including five-year vets LeBron James and Sasha Pavlovic.)
Robin is … gotcha, bro.
(Suns rookie Lopez put up two points and three blocks against his twin brother’s two points and six rebounds in Phoenix’s win over New Jersey on Tuesday.)
I could go on and write more, but I want to get back to looking at my friends’ Halloween photo albums on Facebook and tagging random body parts.
The Derrick Rose Era tipped off with a win in Chicago and 11 points and nine dimes from the top pick in the draft. Four nights later he scored 26 points, which was one point off his collegiate high of 27 he pumped in against Michigan State in the Sweet 16 last Spring. There is a lot of pressure for the No. 1 selection to perform right out of the gates, especially in a year like this one when the talent pool was considered to be so deep and Rose has not disappointed.
Drafted: 48 by L.A. Lakers in 2007
Remember when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich complained that the Lakers-Grizzlies trade last season that sent Pau Gasol to L.A. was "beyond comprehension" and Pop suggested that the NBA form a trade committee to "scratch all trades that make no sense"? What does he have to say now that Marc is averaging virtually the same amount of points and rebounds that his older brother is this season and beating Pau in field goal percentage and blocks per game?
His talent is undeniable. After a shaky 4-for-14 night in his regular season debut, B-Easy found his touch by going 7-for-15 in the Heat's second game and 10-for-16 in their third game. However, his quirkiness is also just as apparent. I read this week that Beasley plays basketball lefthanded, but everything else in his life -- from writing to throwing a football -- he does with his right.
The Kings are off to an 0-4 start, losing those four games by an average margin of defeat of 20.0 points. At least there's been the 6-11, 250-pound Thompson to provide a silver lining during the dark days. Everybody was suprised back in June when the Kings took Thompson out of a little school like Rider University that high in the first round and now it's Thompson who is doing some surprising of his own on the court.
Drafted: 24 by Phoenix in 2007
Just like Marc Gasol stealing the thunder from his teammate O.J. Mayo's Rookie of the Year bid in the early going, Fernandez had swiped the spotlight from Greg Oden in Portland after the big man recovers from yet another injury setback. Fernandez comes off the bench guns a blazin' as he's put up five three-point attempts in each of his three appearances this year, connecting on a respectable 6-for-15 total.
Mayo's shooting percentages and 3.3 turnovers per game are less than stellar, but you have to give credit to the guy for cannonballing his way into the league instead of wading in the kiddie pool.
I overheard a couple of scouts talking about Westbrook in the press room before a Clippers game the other day. One of the scouts was so keen on him he started his diatribe about the explosive 6-3, 187-pound guard out of UCLA by announcing, "I'm not saying he's Dwyane Wade yet, but ..." Anytime a rookie is getting compared to D-Wade just three games into his career, you know he's somebody worth paying attention to.
Chalmers cracks the top 10 thanks to a John Stockton-esque stat line that makes him the rookie leader in both assists and steals per game. Miami might have added Shaun Livingston to shore up the point guard position after Jason Williams left, but Super Mario is serving as a nice stop gap solution for the time being.
Love burst onto the scene and gained the attention of at least one national analyst when David Thorpe put him at the No. 1 spot in his ESPN.com rookie rankings after an impressive 12-point, nine-rebound debut. I'm starting Love at No. 9 after seeing his numbers diminish to just 13 points and seven rebounds combined in games number two and three of his career.
Scott Skiles loves himself some defense and Cameroon native Luc Mbah a Moute fits the bill. The second-round pick has carved a niche into the Bucks' rotation coming off the bench while lottery selection Joe Alexander has barely broke a sweat in a game yet.