We’re into the final stretch of the 2009-10 NBA regular season, and with the All-Star break and NBA trade deadline things of the past, it’s time to focus again on how our rookies are faring.
After sticking in the top two for almost the entire season, Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings is slipping with inconsistent numbers. Read on to see where he ranks, and who fills out the top ten in Week 18:
1. Tyreke Evans, PG, Sacramento Kings
Stats: 37 MPG, 20.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 46.7% FG, 26% 3PT, 76.9% FT
The only aspect of Evans’ game that isn’t picture perfect is his three-point shooting, and considering he’s a rookie and learning the point at the NBA level, even that isn’t a reason to knock him.
The guy gets it done every night and is the most solid, well-balanced, and dominant point guard. In a class completely dominated by point guard play, Evans is far and away still the top dog.
2. Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
Stats: 35 MPG, 15.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.8 SPG, 45.8% FG, 40.7% 3PT, 87.3% FT
Curry has gone from average scorer and distributor to budding NBA star, as he has started to live up to Steve Nash comparisons, and rarely has an off night.
His percentages are solid, and he’s really coming around as a passer, dishing out at least five assists in six of his last seven games.
While the passing is coming along slowly, the scoring has been there for months, as Curry has really established himself as a go-to scorer, and can get it done in a variety of ways.
3. Darren Collison, PG, New Orleans Hornets
Stats: 22.2 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 44.5% FG, 31.3% 3PT, 85.7% FT
Many could argue that Jennings still belongs in this spot, but Collison has performed much too consistently (and usually on an elite level) to stay grounded anymore.
He still isn’t averaging more than 10 points or five assists per game on the season, but the real story is in what he’s done lately, and that he could be putting up sick averages on the season if he had been starting from day one.
His last eight contests tell you all you need to know, as he’s topped 22 points in seven of those games, and hasn’t dished out less than nine assists in seven straight games.
4. Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
Stats: 33.1 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 37% FG, 37.9% 3PT, 80.4% FT
After his first two months in the league, Jennings had many talking him up as the Rookie of the Year. However, ever since his remarkable 55-point effort in his first month, he’s been fairly average, with his shooting percentages taking a significant hit.
With four straight games with a shooting percentage worse than 40 percent, Jennings has to fall.
5. Marcus Thornton, SG, New Orleans Hornets
Stats: 21.4 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1 APG, 43.5% FG, 38.9% 3PT, 80.7% FT
While his numbers on the season don’t necessarily grant him a leap-frog positioning over Jonny Flynn, Thornton’s awesome potential and recent play give him the leg-up.
Upon returning from an injury, Thornton has now scored at least 12 points in five straight games, including a 37-point out-burst two games ago, and two straight games with at least 25 points.
Thornton is doing this all off the bench, and it should only be a matter of time before he’s in the starting line-up, and routinely delivering solid performances. He’s clearly growing as a scorer and a passer, and as long as Chris Paul is out, we should all be able to enjoy more progress.
6. Jonny Flynn, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Stats: 29.1 MPG, 13.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 41.4% FG, 35.7% 3PT, 81.5% FT
Flynn has been consistently average all season, or in another way, consistently inconsistent.
He has outstanding athleticism and an uncanny ability to get to the rim and finish, but his overall shot and decision-making have routinely held him back from making the elite impact the guards ahead of him have.
This has to be considered a solid, successful rookie season for Flynn, but it’s obvious that he has some issues to work on. With his athleticism and vertical, it has to be fairly disappointing that he’s averaging under three rebounds per game.
7. Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets
Stats: 22 MG, 9.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 51.3% FG, 42.9% 3PT, 77.8% FT
Lawson already proved his worth as a starter when Chauncey Billups went down with an injury earlier in the season, but now he’s struggling for minutes off the bench, along with a thumb injury.
We can’t knock Lawson for his recent struggles with the thumb injury, and we can’t downgrade him for being on a good team with a great point guard ahead of him.
With all things considered, Lawson is easily one of the more impressive rookies in this class.
8. Omri Casspi, SF, Sacramento Kings
Stats: 28.6 MPG, 12 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 46.7% FG, 38.5% 3PT, 66.7% FT
Casspi’s consistency has slipped a bit, as he’s failed to top five points in his last two contests, but his season stat line is very solid, and he’s still starting for the Kings.
Casspi shoots great percentages and is a very fluid, versatile player. He’s living in the shadows of his teammate (ROY front-runner), Tyreke Evans, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
9. Chase Budinger, G/F, Houston Rockets
Stats: 19.5 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 42% FG, 36.5% 3PT, 77.4% FT
Budinger has stepped up in a big way for the Rockets, as he’s topped at least 10 points in six straight games, and is averaging over 25 minutes during that span. Budinger ranks ninth because his overall season numbers are still fairly average, but his recent production has him getting some much-deserved hype.
He won’t be in the running for rookie of the year, but he’s definitely proving his worth as a reliable scorer off the bench, while also routinely grabbing rebounds, while even showing off his passing ability with six assists in his last game.
10. Jonas Jerebko, F, Detroit Pistons
Stats: 26.5 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 48.8% FG, 27% 3PT, 68.5% FT
Jerebko has slipped a bit lately in his production, as he’s averaging less than seven shots per game in his last four contests. This inconsistent production comes after a nice stretch where Jerebko topped at least 10 points in four of five games.
He hasn’t topped 10 points in three straight games, but is still providing good energy and is still in the starting lineup.
Honorable Mentions: DeJuan Blair, Taj Gibson, James Harden, Wesley Matthews