I feel as though we’re pretty up on things here at Stepien Rules as regards the All Star weekend, I mean so far we’ve covered the East, broke down the West and now today we’ll be talking Rookies. Just a few minor changes from the format of the previous two blogs in that we won’t be getting into as much detail by picking a roster of nine rookies from each Division – because I’m not sure each division even has nine rookies playing in it. Second, we’ll be assigning rookie head coaches from each conference as the guys in charge; we won’t just be leaving it to the assistant of the coach with the best record. So without further ado or anymore ramblings on from yours truly, let’s start out West shall we…
Western Conference Rookie All Star Team 2011
PG – Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers. When at Kentucky, Bledsoe played off the ball a lot due to John Wall being the primary ball handler. People questioned his decision to go pro – by people I meant me – but it’s turned out to be a good one thus far for the kid out of Alabama. He started the season off on a tear, tallying double-digit points in 7 out of his first 12 games, but since Baron Davis decided to give a crap again his numbers and minutes have dipped, but he’s still the back up point guard on an incredibly fun team to watch. I like the potential of a Bledsoe/Gordon backcourt down the line.
SG – Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs. At the start of the season I had fellow Spur James Anderson pegged for this spot, but Andersons injury has resulted in Neal stepping up. He’s had some big games when the Spurs needed a spark, and for $525,000 a year may be the bargain deal of the season. Great to see him embracing his second chance at NBA Stardom, good for him.
SF – Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves. His numbers aren’t exactly jump-off-the-page impressive, but he’s a rookie on a team dominated by two guys who have shocked the bajeesus out of the league with their production – Kevin love and Michael Beasley. Johnson should be getting more rebounds due to his size at his spot, but Love gobbles up a lot of boards so he can be forgiven for that I suppose. One thing that does concern me however is his free throw shooting, you can’t blame anyone for shooting 68% at the foul line. I’m confident he’ll sort that out, and I also expect him to become an elite one-on-one defender sooner rather than later.
PF – Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers. Yeah, because I need to explain this pick.
C – DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings. Arguments with the head coach, making choking gestures at opponents and just moments of general goofballness (new word right there) cannot hide the fact that this young man is a monster. His numbers in January are as good if not better than any other rookie not named Griffin, and if Cousins can harness that craziness, or goofballness if you like, into effort and hustle on the court, he’d average 20 and 10 easily.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Los Angeles Clippers
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
Patrick Patterson, Houston Rockets
Gary Forbes, Denver Nuggets (early season form gets him in here)
Head Coach; Monty Williams, New Orleans Hornets
Eastern Conference Rookie All Star Team 2011
PG – John Wall, Washington Wizards. Leads all rookies in assists, is also fifth overall in the league in that department, is second amongst rookies in scoring, eight in rebounding, tops in steals, second in double-doubles and seventh in 3pt shooting. He’s had 14 games of ten or more assists, plus he even went and had himself a triple double. Safe to say the Wizards finally made the right choice with the first pick, isn’t that right Kwame.
SG – Landry Fields, New York Knicks. Forget what I said about Gary Neal being the bargain of the season, this guy wins that award hands down. For a mere $473,604 a year he’s given the Knicks 12 double-digit rebounding performances, their starting shooting guard for the foreseeable future (unless Denver actually bites on that offer) and a guy who’s shooting 51% from the field and 75% from the foul line. So far this season, his production has worked out at just over $1,000 per point scored. By contrast, Eddy Curry has cost them $433,703 per point scored – almost more than Fields salary for the entire year. Oh, and he was the 39th overall pick!!
SF – Paul George, Indian Pacers. Highly touted in the weeks building up to the draft, the Pacers found themselves a good one here. January has been somewhat of a coming out party for George; he’s having his best run of the season by far. He has great size and ups for his position, so his rebounding numbers should and will increase with more minutes and experience. He’s averaging around a steal per game and shooting 46% from the floor, definitely has it in him to be an 18 and 7 type guy, but whether Indiana will see that production from him while Granger is there I don’t know.
PF – Ed Davis, Toronto Raptors. Has come back from his injury and contributed nicely for the struggling Raptors. Has already had a couple of nice games and has a nose for a rebound, the former Tar Heel will need to add bulk to his slight frame before he can bang with the best of them. His finesse game is there for all to see, and eventually should be seeing late twenties to early thirties in minutes at which point I’m sure his numbers will increase to where Toronto need them to be.
C – Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons. One of my favourite guys coming out of college, Monroe is finally seeing the minutes his talents deserve in Detroit. In the month of January, Monroe has failed to reach double digits in scoring just three times and had a run of four consecutive double doubles to start the month, which would sound a whole lot more impressive if Blake Griffin wasn’t racking them up for fun in LA. Monroe, if given the time in Troit, could be the leagues best passing bigman very soon and I mean that.
Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
Manny Harris, Cleveland Cavaliers
Derrick Favors, New Jersey Nets
Omer Asik, Chicago Bulls
Head Coach; Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls