2006 Rookie Watch
[img_assist|nid=4035|title=Brandon Roy - AP Photo: Don Ryan|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=327]Know your role. A saying that made the Rock famous in the professional wrestling circuit and one that NBA rookies often have a hard time figuring out. When looking at the rookie class’s production through the first fifty games of the year, roles play a huge part in the maturation process.
Ask any great athlete, and they’ll tell you that they want the ball in their hands at the end of the game. The great ones can live with the fact that they are responsible for wins and losses.
Currently, there are very few rookies who actually are relied upon to make plays for their team in crunch time. Toronto’s Jorge Garbajosa is having a really nice year, but he is a spot up shooter on a well balanced Raptors team. The same could be said for Andrea Bargnani, who is relied upon to come off the bench and bring versatility and energy to the floor. Neither player feels the burden of carrying their team night in and night out.
Very few rookies have to deal with that pressure, and the ones who do are well ahead of the maturation curve. Think about the greats such as Magic Johnson, leading the Lakers to the NBA championship in his rookie year while averaging a near triple double over the 16 games. Could you picture Randy Foye being a dominant player on a championship caliber team this year? Me neither.
With that in mind, lets look at this month’s rankings.
1. Brandon Roy, SG, Portland Trailblazers
Roy is the runaway leader in the rookie of the year race. The Washington grad and Seattle native is the only rookie who is asked to carry the burden on a nightly basis. When your backcourt mates include Martell Webster, Dan Dickau, and Ime Udoka, you are relied upon heavily to create shots for yourself and others. All a person has to do is watch one Blazers game and you’ll quickly realize the impact that Roy has on the game.
2. Andrea Bargnani, F, Toronto Raptors
Whenever Dirk Nowitzki is quoted as saying that you are better than he was when he was 21, you must be doing something right. After a recent game in the T – Dot, Dirk Diggler stated that Bargnani is way ahead of where he was at the same age. Not only has Bargnani become much more consistent, the Raptors are winning games (26-23) and are a serious threat in the mediocre Eastern Conference. On top of that, Bargnani makes at least one play a game that wows people. Raptors fans have to be excited with the thought of Bosh (22) and Bargnani (21) patrolling the forward spots for years to come.
3. Adam Morrison, F, Charlotte Bobcats
I’ve ragged on Morrison quite a bit this year, but I have to give him credit. His consistency has improved in the New Year. While he’s never going to rival and Volkswagen Diesel when it comes to efficiency, he has done more with less lately. Although his minutes have fluctuated, his output has remained consistent (12.3 ppg since Jan 1). On top of that, the Bobcats have actually compiled a pedestrian 9 – 9 record since the turn of the calendar, prompting the city to declare January Bobcat Month! Seriously though, Morrison is going to have to learn how to contribute more on the offensive end with his obvious lack of attention to defense.
4. Randy Foye, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
Foye has figured out the consistency that you need to have in the NBA as a young player. Even though his minutes are sporadic, his production has remained relatively consistent. His ability to produce in the clutch and his increased scoring average has cemented Foye in the top 5. We’ll see if new coach Randy Wittman continues to give the Villanova grad consistent minutes.
5. Jorge Garbajosa, F, Toronto Raptors
January was not kind to the Spanish Assassin. Known for his ability to shoot the ball, someone pulled the shoot on the Garbo’s jumper. With his shot abandoning him, Garbo was forced to do other things for the Raptors. While he continued to contribute, he must shoot the ball better in order to be a consistent contributor for the Raptors. Garbajosa has hit double digits only three times since the New Year, which is not a great stat for a known scorer.
Last March, when Tyrus Thomas was wowing scouts with his athleticism and skyrocketing up everyone’s draft board, I was not convinced. While I admitted that he was a freakish athlete, I didn’t’ see his game translating immediately to the NBA. He has proven me right so far (3.5 ppg, 10.3 mpg).
You would think that being invited to compete in the annual Slam Dunk contest would be an honor for a bench player trying to find his way. Not our Tyrus. Apparently, he is just going to be collecting his check (4th place gets $ 16,000). Classy move by a kid who could use all the positive press he can find. Imagine if you would have told him two years ago when he was a red shirt freshman at LSU that he would be in the NBA Slam Dunk contest in 07’. He would have been ecstatic. It’s too bad some kids forget where they come from so quickly. Kudos to the Bulls for fining him for his detrimental comments.
Till next time, I’m Ryan Reed for NBAdraft.net!