This high octane season has provided us with some truly unexpected play from the rookies, otherwise I must of had low expectations from the class, and believe the 2012 class is going to be strong. While the lockout season lends a little bit of early play-time a rookie might not see in a regular season, through 20 games it’s now safe to gauge these stats as a solid source of material, especially per minute efficiency for the rookies.
Kemba is coming off a recent outburst with a 21 point triple-double. The kid keeps getting more minutes and playing better each game lately. Rubio has taken over the starting PG role in Minnesota over the veteran Luke Ridnour, and he’s helping the Wolves hover around .500 with a very consistent and high IQ level of play with defense we had no idea he possessed. Kyrie Irving is loving his status as the leader to begin: instantly starting at PG for the Cavaliers and playing solid minutes whilst producing very solid numbers and proving to be an NBA-ready PG, not only has he shown how explosive, quick, and athletic the scouts all raved, but he’s a stronger shooter with 3-point range as well, something we didn’t know, proving he was legit at number 1 overall. Who is currently the best Rookie? A Split between Rubio and Irving most sources have agreed on.
Who will ultimately be the 2012 Rookie of the Year?
My Prediction: “Ricky Rubio and the .500% win T-Wolves”
The ROTY award is still a coveted award that usually points to a great career. This year it appears we have three true challengers for the award, along with some others that could have a strong 2/3 the season and make a stand. The big 3 for ROTY are currently, and most obviously:
Currently though, I’d have to say Ricky Rubio is trending as the ROTY. He’s the first passing/all-around style PG that is also a scrappy defender to hit the NBA by storm in the past decade it seems. He plays more to the tune of a Jason Kidd, Pete Marovich fusion, both of whom’s range and shot overall increased with time. Both also came into the NBA with Hall-of-Fame level IQ offensively and could make teammates better.
While Rubio’s stats aren’t going to “wow” you, at 11.4 points, 8.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals, in 33.8 minutes a game, he’s only started 9 of those game which show he’s much more capable. His 36% shooting from three-point range is a great sign (so many bashed him like he’d be a 10% 3pt shooter) that really helps the team, and he’s also getting to the FT line 4-5 times a game now, learning to attack and draw contact when necessary. Most importantly, Luke Ridnour started the season at PG while the Wolves struggles to compete and lost a majority of games; once Rubio became the starter things changed and the team was competing nightly, over .500 in the 9 game span he’s been starting. If the Wolves manage to go .500 or better (even the playoffs) then Rubio is a shoe in unless someone else puts up insane stats or also gets their team to a playoff caliber level. Rubio has veteran swag already, showing a great level of comfort on the floor for a rookie. He plays at his own pace and his behind the back pass has become a trademark. 9-10 assists a game, 2-3 steals, 10-15 points, and the ability to run his team in the full court as well as half court sets. He’s a true leader and true PG, it’s refreshing to see in a time where most PG’s coming into the NBA are score-first type players.
Kyrie remind me a lot of Rose and Westbrook as rookies in the NBA. He has the same physical build and strength as well as a similar all-around style with a knack at attacking the rim and finishing inside along with getting to the charity stripe aplenty. He’s been playing great for the Cavs, proving to be a legit first pick and player you can build around in the future. Currently he is playing at a great level, but that of a combo-guard who is a score-first type player. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I think ROTY honors will go to Rubio who makes teammates better and feels an assist is better than making a shot as well as winning games. Kyrie is truly raw, 3.3 turnovers in 28.8 minutes… and it shows at times with shot selection and streaky jumper. He is already a good to great offensive player and scorer, likely to finish the season around 20 points a game. That’s not enough for ROTY in my opinion, take a look at Nets rookie Marshon Brooks who’s starting now putting up 18-20 points a night. If that’s all you bring you can’t be ROTY, winning as a one dimensional player is hard to do. Luckily he is a solid passer, but the 4.9 assists to 3.3 turnovers shows fairly weak pure point levels. Defensively he’ll need to improve, as he gets beat a decent amount on the ball and plays the passing lanes poorly at less than 1.0 steals a game in 28 minutes. But his all-around game cannot be denied. His scoring is becoming consistent and could be ROTY if he ends up averaging 22.0+Ppg, 6+apg, and keeps his great percentages up.
Kemba. We all sort of dismissed everything he has accomplished in the NCAA and in the tournament and Final 4, as it’s always “scouts know best” once draft camps begin. Still drafted in the top 10, Charlotte chose him to become their starting PG moving DJ Augustin to a 6th man role most likely (DJ is currently hurt). Kemba put up a huge triple double the other night, 21 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds. Not many rookies ever put up triple-doubles, so he’s apart of a special group in that respect. His averages are decent all-around, 12/4/4 with 1 steal every 28 minutes, numbers that show a somewhat raw player as well as a combo-guard type skill-set. He’s tough to figure out, as many games he goes for 16 points and 2 assists, showing he’s that scoring guard. But his recent triple double indicates he has the ability to be a truly great PG that does it all. The more of that we see this year the bigger the chance Kemba has of winning the ROTY award.
*Other Notable Rookies: Brandon Knight (PG/Det), Marshon Brooks (SG/NJ), Iman Shumpert (PG/NY), Kawhi Leonard (SF/San)