2006-07 Rookie Watch
By Ryan Reed
[img_assist|nid=4005|title=Paul Millsap - AP Photo: Mark J. Terrill|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=392]Let’s first get this out of the way. The NBA draft is an art more than it is a science. In the past on this site, I’ve broken down the draft and seen how many mistakes have been made. Names like Gilbert Arenas (early second round) and Tony Parker (late first) immediately come to mind.
A rookie in Utah is making all thirty NBA squads look rather silly this year. Paul Millsap, a ferocious rebounder and dependable scorer saw 46 names called before his on draft night. His wrongdoing? A poor showing at the Orlando Predraft camp.
All that Millsap has done in the NBA has been to continue to do exactly what he did in college. Score and rebound. Although he led the NCAA in rebounding for 3 straight years (first college player ever to do so) he did it at Louisiana Tech.
Even though NBA GM’s can figure out if a 17 year old in Serbia can shoot or a 19 year old in
Brazil can jump, they couldn’t figure out that that Beast from the Bayou could flat out ball. Millsap has not only helped lead the Jazz to one of the best records in the league, he has also helped fill the tremendous void created by Carlos Boozer’s leg injury.
Utah isn’t exactly Los Angeles or New York, so exposure is tough to come by. That hasn’t stopped those around the League from noticing Millsap’s game. He was recently selected to the Rookie-Sophomore game (more on that later) and held his own quite well in Vegas. Like fellow rookie Andrea Bargnani, Millsap puts up his numbers in limited minutes (17.9/game) Millsap puts up 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting a very un-rookie like 53% from the floor. In games when he has been called upon to play more, he has responded accordingly (38 minutes, 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks 3 assists versus the Knicks on February 10th). Millsap has proven his doubters wrong and has likely carved a place for himself in the NBA for years to come.
1. Brandon Roy, G, Portland Trailblazers
While some pundits around the league are jumping on the Bargnani Bandwagon due to Toronto’s recent success, I’m not going to fault Roy for the Blazers losing record. The do it all guard is incredibly consistent and is the glue in Portland’s backcourt. Like Milsap’s shooting percentage, Roy’s assist/turnover ratio is a very un-rookie like 2.05:1. I always liked how under control he was in college. This skill has transferred very nicely into the NBA.
2. Andrea Bargnani, F, Toronto Raptors
Il Mago has grown up before our eyes. Not only is he rebounding the ball more effectively (25 rebounds in past 4 games), Bargnani is shooting the ball with more consistency (51% from the field in February). His ceiling is so high that with every deep three or stylish drive, Bryan Colangelo must be patting himself on the back for having the courage to select the Italian first overall. Bargnani is the catalyst for a strong Raptors bench (61 bench points vs. Houston this week) that has helped propel the Rap’s to top spot in the Atlantic division.
3. Paul Millsap, F, Utah Jazz
As stated above, Millsap has been a valuable contributor on a solid Jazz squad. Some people may feel that a player like Adam Morrison should be in this slot, but if you projected Millsap’s numbers over the minutes that Morrison plays (31.9 mpg) they trump the shaggy haired shooter's (12.7 ppg, 9.2 rpg). His efficiency is remarkable and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have followed his stellar career throughout college.
4. Jorge Garbajosa, F, Toronto Raptors
The Spanish Assassin has found his range in February and has contributed to the Raptors recent assault on the Eastern Conference standings. Garbajosa averaged 9.8 ppg in February and is such a dependable defender and overall presence on the floor for the Raptors. Known as a shooter when he came to the Raptors from Spain, Toronto fans would like to see a little more consistency from the big man, as he has had the yips at times this year with his jumper.
5. Adam Morrison, F, Charlotte Bobcats
Stats don’t tell the whole story in basketball, but luckily for Adam Morrison, they do count for something. Getting to see him play a few times over the past couple weeks, I quickly realized how unremarkable this young mans game is right now. I’m not saying that he isn’t a future all-star or never going to reach the 20 ppg mark, but the timing of his shots, the lack of rebounding , and the general disregard for the defensive end of the floor make it hard to move him up. Am I being to tough on him? Maybe, but expectations were high on the former Bulldog. Morrison’s consistency as of late is encouraging, but his percentages from the everywhere (39% fg, 34% 3pt, 70% ft) do not conger up many thoughts of the player he was compared to the most in college, Larry Bird. Hopefully his first year in the League will be the adjustment time he needs to become a dependable scorer for the young Bobcats.
Randy Foye, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rudy Gay, F, Memphis Grizzlies
Craig Smith, F, Minnesota Timberwolves
Marcus Williams, G, New Jersey Nets
I know that the sophomores have won every game played in the annual mid season tilt, but I would have liked to see a little more effort early on from the rookie squad. The sophomores obviously want to lay an absolute licking on the rookies to show them who is boss, but to give them 70+ points in each half is pretty much conceding. I haven’t seen a defeat like that since Britney Spears lost her battle with sanity. Hopefully the rookies remember that next year as I’m sure Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, and Joakim Noah will prove to be worth adversaries.
For NBADraft.net, I’m Ryan Reed.