Blog Entry

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 7:29 pm
Posted by Royce Young

When people say things like, "It's never too early to talk about..." what they really mean is, "It's way, way too early to talk about this but I'm trying to at least acknowledge that."

So... it's never too early to talk about next season's early contenders for Rookie of the Year (assuming there is a next year blah blah blah). Most everyone proclaimed last night's draft to be of the weak variety and while it very well may be, it's going to have a couple good players. Whether it's the top overall pick or a sleeper taken in the 20s, the 2011 NBA Draft won't go down as a total dud.

Who are the candidates to make a big rookie splash? There aren't a ton of franchise changing guys in this draft, but more a bundle of potential. Someone will be named Rookie of the Year and honestly, this might be one of the most wide open races in a long time. Derrick Williams isn't Blake Griffin. Kyrie Irving isn't Derrick Rose. From picks 1-15 really, there are a lot of guys that could contend. So here are my top five.

1. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavaliers: If the No. 1 overall pick isn't a Rookie of the Year candidate, well, then his name must be Michael Olawakandi. It's hard to really know if Irving is going to step right in and start from day one or if the Cavs want to groom him behind Baron Davis -- don't laugh -- but he's going to get his minutes. This franchise is now his. He's the guy.

He's not John Wall or Derrick Rose, but that just means he's not as flashy. He makes plays everywhere, shoots the ball extremely well and is incredibly composed and mature. It's pretty easy to picture Irving averaging something along the lines of 15 points and five assists per game, which will likely be enough to win the award.

2. Derrick Williams, F, Timberwolves: I think Williams is a fantastic player. A 6-9 guy that's athletic and strong and shot 57 percent from 3? How could you NOT like him?

But I've got questions that almost made me leave him off the list. Where does he fit in with the Wolves? Is he their starting small forward? Does he fit alongside Kevin Love? Does Michael Beasley take too many shots and minutes from him? Does Williams play power forward and Love slide to center? Can Williams play power forward? Is he too much of a tweener, like Jeff Green?

If the Wolves are smart, and of course that's a whole other thing there, Williams sees minutes from day one and Beasley is shipped out so that Williams' growth is never messed with. I don't think the two can co-exist. Give the keys entirely to Ricky Rubio, Love and Williams and see what they can do. If that happens, I think he can put up pretty solid numbers and a few flashy highlights as well.  

3. Jan Vesely, SF, Wizards: Blake Griffin didn't win the Rookie of the Year last year just based off a bunch of crazy highlight dunks. But there's no denying that they certainly helped.

And Vesely is the prime candidate to be 2011-12's official YouTube Party candidate for Rookie of the Year. He has an incredible amount of athleticism, a bunch of flash and some skill to boot. He can score, play and dunk. If Vesely gets minutes, he's going to grab some attention. And in winning awards, sometime attention is all it really takes.

4. Jimmer Fredette, PG, Kings: I'm coming clean -- I'm a total Jimmer junkie. I think he's going to be a great pro. My philosophy is, if you're one of the best at your craft at the highest level you can play, you'll likely be good at the next level too. Adam Morrison excluded, of course.

And Jimmer can score. Yeah, his defense stinks. But I think that was more of a product of the system and structure he operated in at BYU more than anything. BYU's coach Dave Rose knew Fredette couldn't dare pick up a couple early fouls, so he was hidden in a 2-3 scheme and rarely moved his feet or went for a steal. I don't think that's just because Jimmer doesn't understand a simple defensive stance, but more that he was instructed, "Don't you think about picking up a foul." There were similar concerns about Blake Griffin's defense too, but at OU Jeff Capel employed the same mindset to Griffin's defense. And I think that worked out.

The Kings cleared out room for Jimmer to immediately start and run the show. If he's ready for it, he's going to have a chance to put up really nice numbers on an improving team. Is he going to look to score or pass? That's to be seen. But he's a smart guy, has a bunch of talent and knows how to play. He's going to be good.

5. Alec Burks, SG, Jazz: I live in Big 12 country so I'm a bit biased having seen Burks play most of his college games. But let me tell you, that dude tore up the conference. Inside, outside, defensively, rebounding -- he was a one-man team.

The Jazz are slowly transitioning and while Enes Kanter was the No. 3 pick, I think he's going to be brought along more slowly than Burks. There's not a whole lot standing in the way of Burks and playing time, while Kanter has to settle in somewhere around Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur. I don't know what the future of Andrei Kirilenko is but I'm sure Utah isn't that worried about finding room for Burks to play. He's going to likely be in the rotation from the start and might even push C.J. Miles for the starting shooting guard spot.


Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: June 25, 2011 1:47 pm

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

I don't know about ROY - but, Kemba will absolutely be one of the best players in this draft, if not the best.  I hate UConn (big suprise), but the kid is a flat out winner that can create for himself and for others, and a scary good shooter - he also isn't fully developed.  As a rookie, he might be a little like Kobe was, bad shots, trying to find his way, but eventually is going to be way better than Iverson because he will do a better job of creating for others and will have a higher field goal percentage.  I'm a Duke guy, and I think Irving is at BEST a Brandon Roy with better knees - great, but nothing that points to HOF.

Since: Jun 25, 2011
Posted on: June 25, 2011 1:45 pm

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

Brandon Knight will win Rook of the Year. Playing alongside Greg Monroe will only help him and Detroit will also clear up the guard problems they have right now with Rip,Gordon,Stuckey, and Bynum. Rip will be traded, once the new CBA is signed the Pistons will use the onetime buyout option on Gordon, and Stuckey will start at SG. I predict that Knight will average 16ppg, 5assists, 2 steals a game.

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: June 25, 2011 1:01 pm

Might change my mind....

Now that I know Westphal and company wanted the Kings to aquire the services of (used up & slow) Tony Parker rather than draft Fredette, I might be on board with the pick. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a jimmer, I think he's going to disappoint the fans, but I like the move by management. Westphal has not been doing a stellar job on the coaching end, and I think his days are numbered in Sac. How can they possibly believe that Tony Parker was going to be an answer at PG? Stick with Thornton, 'Reke, Cousins (jury's still out), and maaaaybe Dalembert. The rest of the team can sink or swim as far as the fans are concerned. They either failed to demonstrate playmaker ability that's needed or even dependable consistency to be a supportive cog on the floor(See Beno Udrih, Thompson, Greene).  I think there is HUUUGE potential to trade Salmons AND Jimmer for some considerable long term benefit. The one to watch just might be Isaiah Thomas. Quick, vicious pursuit of the pill, and nearly impossible to keep a defender near him. True, he'd be a "mouse in the house" for big guards to post up on, but my gut says opponents will overlook this guy.  Good luck to all of the Kings picks, though, and welcome to SacTown!

Since: Dec 16, 2006
Posted on: June 25, 2011 12:01 pm

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

While I agree Kemba could be a ROY contender, I think it all depends on what they do with him.  Are they going to force him to run the point?  If they do, I don't see him putting up #s right away.  He doesnt play like a natural point gaurd and he needs the ball when the clock is running down.  If they put him at the 2 he is a little undersized and could have trouble getting shots off.  I like the kid and I think he is the best competitor in the draft so I wont discount his will and drive to succeed but I think it all depends on how they handle him.

Since: Jun 15, 2009
Posted on: June 25, 2011 12:00 pm

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

You are 100% correct that Kemba has a great shot at ROY bacause he will jack a ton of shots and be one of Charlottes lone sources of offense. However, I will be very surprised if he turns out to be the best player overall. I love Williams game and I agree that Burks was a steal in this draft. Kanter is the player that I feel will end up being the best though. The kids game is polished and he has size which seems to be hard to find these days in the drafts. Everyone is talking about the Cavs top two but Utah is the team that got the players I would want. Watch out for the Jazz in the upcoming years!

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: June 25, 2011 10:09 am

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

Kemba Walker hands down. Theres gonna be eight teams real sorry they passed on this gutty kid. He'll have the best career of anyone in this draft class. Easily. I'd compare him favorably to Iverson.

Since: Jun 21, 2011
Posted on: June 25, 2011 9:14 am

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

Like someone said earlier some of you people put up stupid comments and have no clue. Blake Griffen did not play a single game his rookie year. Not one game. So he was still considered a rookie the following year. He shouldnt be disqualitfied because he was hurt his first year. It doesnt have nothing to do with what draft class you are in. Rubio was drafted two years ago and he is eligible this year. Luis Scola played overseas four years and when he first came to the league(at 27) he was eligible to be ROY. Quit it with the senseless comments, Blake Griffen won it fare and square.

If Williams doesnt win the ROY award this year most likely  Irving or Kemba will get it. Jan Vessley i like that kids game but he is to much of an off the ball offensive player to win the award. Alec Burks have great potential with his all around game. If the coaches at SAC are sold on Jimmer(i heard they didnt even want to draft him) and lets him jack up enough shots its a chance he could win the ROY award.

Since: May 15, 2010
Posted on: June 25, 2011 6:13 am

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

No way Blake should have won ROY. Sure he would have won ROY if he was in the same class as John Wall but that's not the point. The point is that Blake Griffin wasn't a rookie. You all make that dumb argument that he didn't play at all in his rookie year so he was still a rookie and that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard and I'll tell you why.....He was with an NBA team for a year. He was around players and coaches and all that stuff. You don't think he gained valuable experience during that time? You think he just took the year off and did nothing productive with his time? Not a chance. He sat out a year but he learned....That's a good reason why he shouldn't have won ROY but it's not the main reason. The main reason is that he wasn't drafted that year so he shouldn't be able to win that years ROY. It doesn't matter whether your coach sits you all year to learn or you suffer a season ending injury or you decide to play overseas. Tough luck but you aren't a rookie. That's just how it should be. Yeah he couldn't help that he got hurt but that's just tough luck. Too bad, so said. Life aint fair. You aint a rookie anymore. You missed your rookie season.

Since: Nov 30, 2008
Posted on: June 25, 2011 5:31 am

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

YeahI never understood how Griffin's second year became his first ! I know injuries are part of the game and unfortunately he had an injury that caused him to miss his rookie year but he lost that year and shouldn't have been eligible to win R.O.Y. in his second season ! Truth be told, he would have won it easily in any year ! That would include John Wall's rookie year !

Since: Jan 16, 2007
Posted on: June 25, 2011 12:45 am

Way too early Rookie of the Year contenders

"No, Blake Griffin won the Rookie of the Year because it was his 2nd year in the NBA and should not have been eligible.  He collected a pay check in year 1 didn't he?  John Wall was robbed."

Man some people say some dumb things on these boards.....  He won because it was his second year?  If you want to make an argument that he shouldn't have been eligible (which is wrong anyway) at least try to make sense doing it. 

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