When I laid out my blogging plan for the NBA season, I left you guys with the names of five rookies whom I'd be monitoring closer than the rest. Those five guys are John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, James Anderson and Greg Monroe. With almost a weeks action in the books of the 2010-11 NBA season, time to check up on how those five fared in their first week as a pro.
There are probably around 6 teams in the league you don't want to play in your NBA debut, count the Magic as one of those. Wall's game is all about getting into the lane and attacking the basket, hard to do when you've a Dwight Howard shaped obstacle in your way. Nonetheless, in his pro debut the kid from Kentucky tallied 14 points and 9 assists. Three steals in your NBA debut is pretty impressive too mind you. That was always going to be tough, what we got in game number two was what we all were expecting of him. Sure the Wizards lost again, but Wall had finished with 28 points, 9 assists and 5 boards. Jeff Teague may never be the same again after that. I'm still not crazy about his second consecutive game of 3 TO's, but I'm happy to let him work out the flaws. If I were to grade him through games one and two, I'd probably give him an A if I'm being honest. He's impressed me, he's looked the part and he's dishing the ball too. 18 assists in two games playing alongside Yi and Jianlian and Cartier Martin is nothing to be overlooked. We knew he wasn't the greatest of shooters, and the lane is a lot bigger and stronger in the pro's than in college, so for him to still be getting in there and causing havoc is impressive.
I was really looking forward to seeing if his patented spin move from college would work in the NBA. So far it kinda has and hasn't, if that makes sense. It's always good to get your NBA career off to a winning start, and racking up 14 points and 8 boards and 5 assists in the process sweetens it that little bit more. 5 fouls though, something that may happen a lot this year. Game Two had that little bit more spice added to it as it was against Derrick Favors and the Nets. I'm sure you all heard Cousins comments regarding both parties, so I was expecting him to go off on one and get like, 24 and 15 or something. Not to be, he finished up with 12 and 4 during a foul plagued evening. If anything, Favors outshone the Kings forward, tallying 10 points and 7 boards in 20 minutes. I look forward to their rematch. Against our Cavaliers he had another solid if not spectacular outing, with 14 points and 10 boards in a win that should never had been. Cousins will benefit hugely from having Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert around, and as soon as he figures out how to stay on the court and not get in foul trouble, watch out. I'll give him a B- for his opening 3 games.
As far as opening NBA baskets go, this one is pretty good. As far as NBA debuts go, his was also very, very good. 20 points and 14 rebounds was exactly what the Clippers nation missed out on last season, but it's in full affect this one. He looked polished in the lane; he made smart plays and took good, clever shots. It didn't seem like he was even trying, it just came to him. That's the impressive part. I kinda expected more from him than the 14 and 10 he gave us during the Golden State game, I thought he'd have went off in that one, but not to be I guess. Playing against Dallas last night was always going to be tough, considering he's matching up with Dirk, but I thought he handled himself well en route to 16 points and 9 rebounds. He did only shoot 4-15 however, but as a team the Clippers shot 28-82, so it's not like he was alone in that aspect. Griffin has certainly looked the part in his opening three games, averaging 16.7 points and 11 rebounds - pretty solid numbers for a rookie...playing with the Clippers. Griffin also scores an A from me on his report card.
Game One against the Thunder - DNP Coach's Decision.
Game Two against the Bulls - 7 minutes, 1-1 for 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 fouls.
Is it really fair to grade that? He is behind Jason Maxiell, Charlie V, Big Ben Wallace and Austin Daye on the depth chart, so for the next few weeks, unless he does something to sway management, 7 minutes might be his lot. Disappointing for me, I love the kid and his upside. I can't grade him fairly on 7 minutes action; I give Detroit a big fat F though. If anything, just because they're Detroit.
Look, a rookie playing for the Spurs is meant to do three things - not screw up, defer to the big three and work your butt off when you play, or else you won't. DeJuan Blair did that last year, now he starts for them. James Anderson is in a situation where he legitimately could the their two guard of the future, so the chance is there for him if he wants it. Opening night, 10 points on 4-8 shooting in 27 minutes with 1 steal and 1 rebound maybe got him a pass. Actually, if Pop leaves you out there for 27 minutes on your NBA debut you must be doing something right. Only 11 minutes logged in his second game, but that was enough time for him to shoot 1-4 on his way to 5 points. He also had a block, assist and rebound, so maybe that "working your butt off" thing is setting in, kinda. I like Anderson on this roster a lot more than I would any other, and when it's said and done I expect him to have a good rookie season while seeing playoff basketball. I give him a C+, I think that's fair.
Before I Go...
LeBron has said that if he had the chance to, he'd change the way "The Decision" went down. Erm, your about 3 months too late there. You think that by saying that all will be forgiven? You think that by owning up to your mistake we'll yank the knives out of our backs that you left there and call a truce? Never. Simple as. Come out and say that yes, you did indeed tank in the Boston series, that yes you took the cowardly way out by leaving, that you cost us any potential free agents by not committing to us over the last three years. Come out and say those things next, and maybe, just maybe, people somewhere across America will start to forgive. People in Ohio though? Forget about it.
DeLonte West v Von Wafer was probably a better fight than Brock Lesnar v Cain Velasquez.
Thoughts and prayers go out to Maurice Lucas' family and loved ones, it's sad to lose a loved one, and at 58 he was still a young man. Lucas was a star for Portland when they won their NBA Championship, was a star in college with Marquette and obviously a star amongst teammates, as Bill Walton named his son Luke after him.