- as of 1/21/10
1. Tyreke Evans - Wowza. After a slow start he has exploded to the tune of 20-5-5. Those are all-star numbers in case you’re wondering. It'll be interesting to see if he maintains that pace now that Kevin Martin is back. What if Memphis had taken him, which is a plausible scenario given his Tennessee roots? They'd have passed OKC and Portland as the hottest young team in the league.
2. Brandon Jennings - Dude has cooled off a ton after a totally psychotic (and unrealistic) start, just as the Bucks have as a whole. That being said, he's still playing monster minutes and being allowed to shoot at will. At this point he's looking like the SOD at #10. The most criminal offense of all: the Knicks passed on him. The same team that coveted PG Ricky Rubio and scorer Stephen Curry, both because of their respective games and ability to fill seats, let the guy who could have filled all three roles go...for another guy who you won't see anywhere on this list.
3. Jonny Flynn - Flashes of brilliance followed up with flashes of stupidity, par for the rookie course. The talent, attitude and top flight athletic ability are there just waiting to be harnessed. His 14 pts and 4 assists, though solid, is inferior to Jennings' 18-6 but consider this: Jennings is averaging 5 more minutes a game and has taken a stunning 141 more shots! Pro-rate that out and their stats are virtually identical. Now dream big and imagine that the Wolves have a couple of wings who can hit a mid-range jumpshot and his numbers really skyrocket.
4. Stephen Curry - Like everyone else in a Don Nelson offense, his numbers are inflated beyond their actual performance level. Curry has been ok, definitely solid for a rook, but he's pretty much looking like the limited ceiling pick he was projected to be. In any other system it would be really hard to see how he would survive defensively as either a 2-guard or a point guard. Good thing he's not in any other system.
5. Omri Casspi - There's a lot of buzz around this guy and I admit he has been good, but I'm not sold yet. He has played 35+ minutes thirteen times already this year. He's played 40+ minutes five times. It's impressive and rare that a rook would yield such a heavy dose of minutes, but it also tempers the excitement around his moderately large stat outputs. Any 6'9" NBA player, when given 40 minutes a game, should be able to average 12 points and 5 rebs.
6. DeJuan Blair - He had no business falling as far as he did in the draft, bad knees or no. His play has exceeded his statistical output in every way. He's been able to contribute big minutes for a top team in the mighty Western Conference and smoothly bridge the gaps in which Tim Duncan is not on the floor. That's hard enough for a veteran to do, let alone an apparently broken down rookie.
7. James Harden - He's been pretty ho-hum so far. 9 points, 3 rebs and 2 assists is hardly what you expect out of the #3 overall pick. He's getting pretty good minutes, too. The problem is he isn't getting a lot of shots, which is largely due to the fact that Russell Westbrook is a shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body. At Arizona State, Harden showed he needs a high volume of shots to be effective, which he isn't going to get behind Durant and Westbrook. Consequently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see trade-happy OKC GM, Sam Presti, move Harden as soon as this year while his stock is still high.
8. Jonas Jerebko - I almost forgot the Pistons were playing this year given how little coverage they’ve received. Apparently, Ben Gordon and Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer don't do much for national audiences. Even still, this dude has been a good bit player for them. Averaging 9 points and 5 rebs, he's basically on pace with what Rudy Fernandez did as a rook, minus all the publicity.
9. DeMar DeRozan - DeRozan makes this list by default because basically there aren't any more rookies consistently doing anything productive. We all sort of knew this slow start would happen. DeRozan is so talented, yet so unrefined that it will take a couple of years before this guy does or does not materialize into what he is capable. He will, however, compete in this year's dunk contest. Reminds me a bit of Gerald Green in that regard. Here's hoping DeRozan turns out nothing like Gerald Green!
10. Ty Lawson - In a short (no pun initially intended, then I realized it was a pun, then I decided to leave it in. Lawson is short) amount of time Lawson has proved three things. 1) He will never be an All-Star. 2) He will have a long career as an effective backup PG. 3) He was a great value pick at #18. Good job, Denver!
And now, individual honors for the excluded…
Close But No Cigars - Tyler Hansbrough, Taj Gibson, Sam Young, Chase Budinger, Wayne Ellington. If these guys were just a little better they would have made the list. But they're not, so they must endure the humiliation of the Honorable Mention designation.
Too Bad, So Sad - Blake Griffin. What a buzzkill? With Greg Oden and now Griffin, Derrick Rose is all that stands between a #1 overall pick curse theory.
What The Fudge? - Jordan Hill. Seriously, what the fudge New York?
I Sorta Get It, But Seriously, What The Fudge - Hasheem Thabeet. I mean, I sorta get, but seriously Memphis, what the fudge?
I Was Drafted In The Lottery And You've Already Forgotten I Exist - Gerald Henderson. I'm sorry, who?
Given The Disastrous State Of My Team I Should Be Putting Up Some Pretty Good Numbers Because I Was A Lottery Pick Which Implies I Am Talented And Really, What Better Options Do They Have? But Inspite Of All Of That I'm Not Doing Shiz - Terrence Williams. This guy is a little inexplicable. And the Nets owe him millions.
Have a good life.