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During the long NFL offseason, I will analyze/blabber about various guys drafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. I’ll be starting today, and who better to open it with than the number one overall pick, Sam Bradford.
The NBA’s All-Rookie First and Second teams were unveiled today and are as follows:
NBA All-Rookie First Team:
Tyreke Evans, PG, Sacremento
Brandon Jennings, SG, Milwaukee
Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Golden State
Darren Collison, PG, New Orleans
Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago
NBA All-Rookie Second Team:
Marcus Thornton, SG, New Orleans
Dejuan Blair, PF/C, San Antonio
James Harden, SG, Oklahoma City
Johnny Flynn, PG, Minnesota
Jonas Jerebko, PF, Detroit
…Since the All-Rookie teams are solely the top five players voted in, regardless of position, I would imagine an actual “team” with players at their real positions would be Evans at PG, Curry at SG, Jennings could fill in at SF, Gibson at PF, and Blair at center…
…I thought it was interesting that no true small forwards were voted onto either team, and point guards clearly dominated the draft class…The players I see with the highest ceiling out of these ten would have to be Brandon Jennings, Steph Curry, and two guys who didn’t put up staggering numbers but I think can improve with more minutes and a year of experience under their belts- Dejuan Blair and James Harden…If Harden can get into the comfort level that he had at Arizona State his sophomore year (20.1 ppg), then the Thunder are even scarier than at first glance…Blair was super-effective in the minutes that Popovich gave him this year for the Spurs, leading the league in offensive rebounds per 48 minutes and ranking 4th in total rebounds per 48; the biggest question is if Blair can consistently put up double-doubles with increase playing time…
With the first round of the NBA Playoffs wrapping up, some teams are seeing significant and impressive production from rookies.
Brandon Jennings racked up 31 points in Wednesday night’s win at Atlanta along with a 12 point showing Friday night in Milwaukee. The series is knotted up at 3-3 with game 7 in Atlanta on Sunday.
The OKC Thunder had a pair of impressive first year players: Serge Ibaka and James Harden. Ibaka racked up 12 points and 9 rebounds in the Thunder’s season ending loss to the Lakers last night as well as 10 points and 8 rebounds on Tuesday. Harden, who probably should have made it into my post earlier this week on playoff rookies stepping up, didn’t show up last night (only 2 points in 13 min.) showed bursts of significant production throughout the series, scoring in double digits in games three, four, and five- 18, 15, and 11, respectively- and was the key to the Thunder playing LA so close in my opinion, as his two best performances garnered their two wins while the games he didn’t tend to show up for were losses. The Thunder are a young and scary team.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we have an undrafted free agent who gives Jennings a run for his money as far as the most impressive playoff rookie. Wesley Matthews, the undrafted SG out of Marquette, worked his way onto the Jazz starting lineup, and has been their starting 2 guard since they traded away Ronnie Brewer. Matthews isn’t just starting, he’s putting up good numbers. Averaging 13.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 1.9 apg, the undrafted rookie has helped the Jazz advance to the second round against the Lakers. Be sure to root for this guy whenever the Jazz play, he’s worked his tail off to get where he is and deserves all of it.
Sadly, if the Bucks don’t win tomorrow night in Atlanta, all but Wesley Matthews will have been eliminated from the playoffs.
As anticipated, Sacramento point guard Tyreke Evans officially won the NBA Rookie of the Year award, after an impressive 20.1 PPG, 5.8 APG, and 1.5 SPG campaign. The fourth overall pick out of Memphis is another rookie of the year to come out of John Calipari’s PG factory, with Derrick Rose winning the trophy last year and Kentucky’s John Wall already a favorite for next year’s race. Evans’ 67 first place votes edged out Golden State’s Stephen Curry’s 43 first place votes and Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings’ 12, rightfully so as the King PG led all rookies in points per game and was second in assists per game.
Evans joined the likes of Jordan, LeBron, and Oscar Robertson as the fourth rookie all time to average 20 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds per game; pretty good company to be in, two of which are hall of famers and basketball legends, and LeBron James seems to be on pace to join them in both aspects.
The NFL Draft unfolded last weekend unlike many suspected it to. Jimmy Clausen, a possible top 10 pick, plummeted to the 48th pick before being chosen by the Carolina Panthers. The Oakland Raiders actually made some damn smart moves, landing a guy many suspected them to draft at number eight overall (Maryland OT Bruce Campbell) in the fourth round. Tim Tebow, a guy many people saw as a tight end or fullback prospect rather than a quarterback, somehow got Josh McDaniels to put his job on the line by moving back up into the first to select him. Needless to say, a lot of rookies just got put in the NFL, and I have the whole summer to go over them and figure out who I think is going to do well. But for now- here are the biggest steals, reaches, and late round hopefuls of the 2010 NFL Draft:
Biggest Steals: Bryan Bulaga, Iowa OT, 23rd overall pick (Green Bay): Bulaga, while drawing concerns about his arm length, was one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the draft class, put by many behind Russell Okung (#6 overall) and Trent Williams (#4 overall). He fell down boards after the teams with needs looked elsewhere with their picks (see Buffalo, Oakland) and the 49ers suprisingly chose Rutgers tackle Anthony Davis before Bulaga, despite wide concern about Davis’ work ethic. Bulaga then fell to the Packers, who depsite making the playoffs and going 11-5 behind the arm of Aaron Rodgers had large concern with the stability of their offensive line.
Charles Brown, USC OT, 64th overall (2nd round): How the defending superbowl champs managed to land a prospect like Brown with the last pick in the second round boggles my mind. Brown, a guy who some thought could slip into the latter portion of the first, started two years for the Trojans and received first team All-Pac-10 and All-American honors his senior year as well as being the recipient of the Morris Trophy for the Pac-10’s top offensive lineman. The Saints now have a solid, young offensive tackle to groom into Jammal Brown’s place when he leaves.
Biggest Reaches: Tyson Alualu, Cal DT, 10th overall pick (Jacksonville): While I think that Alualu could be a solid DT for the Jags and a good player, he was a huge reach at 10 overall. You look at guys who have been chosen at #10 in the past: Michael Crabtree, Jerod Mayo, and Matt Leinart (didn’t exactly work out, but was regarded very highly coming into the NFL). Blue chip prospects, guys you know are going to be great players. I just think Alualu was more fit as a second round guy.
Tim Tebow, Florida TE QB, 25th overall pick (Denver): Okay, if you are a Tebow lover skip down to the next section, because you’re more than likely not going to agree/like what I’m going to say. Trading back into the first to get Tebow is going to ultimately get Josh McDaniels fired, unless Tim Tebow really is a disciple of Christ and morphs into a NFL quarterback. Tebow’s mechanics are just too shaky, his footwork the same. He has never taken snaps under center, and as a result has never had to read a defense thanks to Urban Meyers spread offense. As if all these red flags weren’t enough: his athleticism isn’t going to dominate defenses like it did in the college game. He won’t be able to run around the backfield and wait for a receiver to get open like he did in college: the defenders in the NFL are faster than he is. Neither will he be able to run over middle linebackers while running, the talent level and the physicality of the NFL is leaps and bounds above what he usually faced in the NCAA, making for an unwelcoming environment to his style of play. Tebow looked absolutely terrible at the Senior Bowl, but somehow convinced Denver with his revamped delivery at his pro day (which consists of throwing without pads to wide open receivers, how that makes people forget about the 4 years prior to that I have no idea) to pick him at number 25 overall. This was an awful pick.
Late Round Gems?:
Corey Wootton, Northwestern DE, 109th overall (4th round): Wootton fell to the fourth round of the draft for one reason: his health. He blew out his knee in the Alamo Bowl at the end of his junior year in every since of the term: tearing his ACL, MCL, and meniscus in his right knee in one play. After recovering from the nasty injury, Wootton returned, motivated for his senior season, only to sustain a nagging high ankle sprain in Northwestern’s October 3rd game against Purdue. These two injuries caused quite the decline in Wootton’s effectiveness, going from 10 sacks his junior year to 6 as a senior. I still expected Wootton to go earlier than round four, and think that once he can get back into full swing will be a nice complement to the newly signed Julius Peppers for the Bears.
Bruce Campbell, Maryland OT, 106th overall (4th round): Campbell, a offensive tackle that many thought would be taken at #8 overall by the Raiders, is a physical freak that has loads of potential. While very raw and unpolished, Campbell has the potential to develop into an elite LT with the proper coaching and work ethic. He needs to work on his footwork and blocking game in general, the potential is through the roof and for a fourth rounder, his high bust possibility isn’t as disconcerting as it was as a first rounder. This was an excellent pick for the Raiders and I think it could pay off largely for them.
With the draft just now wrapping up, the NBA playoffs getting started, and the MLB season getting underway as well, I have a lot of stuff on my plate, so I’ll try to address one sport at a time. You unlucky readers get to read me tell you three rookies you should keep an eye out for when watching the 2010 NBA Playoffs play out.
1. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks: Playoff stats: 18.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.3 APG
The Bucks are in the playoffs? Yep. And they’re contending. Even with center Andrew Bogut out after his nasty injury, the Bucks are tied 2-2 with the Hawks- primarily thanks to this rookie. Jennings has scored in double digits in three of the four games, highlighted by a monstrous 34 point effort in their game 1 loss. Jennings has been money for the Bucks all year, and I would not be the least bit surprised if he carries this team into round two or further.
2. Ty Lawson, PG Denver Nuggets: Playoff stats: 7.8 PPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 RPG
Lawson, the heralded rookie PG out of North Carolina, has made a moderate impact on the Nuggets this season, backing up the veteran Chauncey Billups and averaging 8.3 PPG along with 3.1 assists during the regular season. Four games into their first round series with the Utah Jazz, Lawson is putting up some pretty impressive rookie playoff numbers, scoring 11 points and dishing out 6 assists in the Nuggets game 1 (and only) win.
3. Dejaun Blair, PF, San Antonio Spurs Playoff Stats: 3.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.8 APG
Hey! Don’t let those miniscule playoff averages run you off just yet! Spurs coach Greg Popovich seems to be wary of putting too much trust in rookies during the playoffs, as Blair has seen his season average of 18.2 minutes fractioned to a rather disappointing 8.8 in the playoffs. Blair looked excellent in game 4 of the Spurs’ series with the Mavs, scoring 7, bringing in 7 boards- 5 of which were offensive rebounds- and tallying a single steal, assist, and rebound in 12 minutes. If you watched the game, you saw the scrappy rookie help the Spurs edge out a solid lead while Duncan couldn’t seem to generate any rhythm.