Wednesday, 4 November 2009

NBA Preseason Rookie of the Year Candidates

Right after the NBA Draft in June, almost everyone penciled in Blake Griffin for the Rookie of the Year. It's easy to see why. As the first pick in the draft, he was going to get ample opportunity to see the court. He has more physical skills and potential than anyone else in the rookie class, and he looked polish enough to contribute a lot of quality minutes right away. However, his body did not cooperate, as injuries forced him to miss at least the first 4-6 weeks of the season.

This opened the door for other candidates to stake their claim to be Rookie of the Year. One such guy is Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks. After struggling in his year in Europe, not a lot was expected from him right away. However, with a rebuilding Bucks team, he stepped right into the starting lineup and showed off his immense talent. He almost had a triple-double in his first game, and then followed that up with a 24 point game. He is leading or close to leading the Bucks in many categories, and certainly looks like the real deal so far.

DeJuan Blair was seen as a steal for the San Antonio Spurs in round 2, and he has not disappointed. He is a rebound machine, and he procured a double-double in his first game in the NBA. As he continues to learn on the offensive end from Tim Duncan, he should turn into a better and better player, and could have a chance to compete for this award if he gets enough minutes.

Stephen Curry seems ideally suited for Don Nelson's "It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission" type offense, as he likes to get up the court and take lots of shots. He has played well early going, distributing the ball well in addition to using his beautiful shooting talents. As long as he continues to get consistent minutes (no certainty for a Don Nelson team), he will put up numbers that will put him in the Rookie of the Year discussion.

Johnny Flynn is starting at PG for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he has an NBA ready body. He is a great finisher and defender, and should be able to spread the ball around well for the young Timberwolves, as he grows into a leadership role. Tyreke Evans will get plenty of burn for a bad Sacramento Kings team, and we should expect to see him lighting up the scoreboard this season.

If Blake Griffin can recover quickly from his injury problems and contribute like everyone thought he would, he will still have a shot to win the Rookie of the Year award. However, if he falters, there will certainly be a lot of other guys vying to win a little bit of hardware in their rookie season.