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Looking Ahead: The Class of 2008

Sat, 05/02/2009 - 8:14am

"Potential" is a dangerous word. It is what makes NBA GMs risk millions of dollars on unproven players in the hopes of finding the next diamond in the ruff. It is what makes these same decision-makers hold on to a young player for two or three years despite no signs of maturation, praying for the day that these kids can finally put everything together and become that special talent scouts thought they could be. Potential isn't real at all; it's simply a possibility. So, when you read the following list, consider these facts: This list is NOT ranking the top rookies of the class of 2008 based on how they performed this year; while they're play this year was considered, the list is predominantly based on potential.

  1. Derrick Rose, PG Chicago Bulls: 16.8 pts, 6.3 asts, 3.9 rebs

    In October, no one really gave him a chance to win ROY despite being the #1 pick, but Rose didn't take long to change their minds. He's a world-class athlete, great playmaker (we'll attribute those late-game turnovers in the playoffs to inexperience), and a gifted offensive player. He also has that "it" factor, that win-or-die mentality that all the greats have. While he isn't too vocal, his game and on-court leadership speak volumes. He'll be closing in on Chris Paul for "Best PG in the NBA" by November 2010.
  2. Russell Westbrook, PG Oklahoma City Thunder: 15.3 pts, 5.3 asts, 4.9 rebs
    Russell WestbrookRussell Westbrook
    Reaching for Westbrook at #4 on draft day has paid big dividends in OKC. He's shown the ability to run a team and makes his presence felt in every aspect of the game. He may never get the recognition he deserves playing alongside Kevin Durant, but he'll stuff the stat sheet and the highlight reel for the next ten years or so.
  3. Brook Lopez, C New Jersey Nets: 13 pts, 8.1 rebs, 1.8 blks

    Brook proved to be the steal of the 2008 Draft. After slipping all the way to #10, Lopez has become the yang to Devin Harris's yin and has all the makings of a franchise center. He's more athletic than people give him credit for and is very efficient from both the field and the free-throw line. With a lack of centers in the East, Lopez has a good chance to make multiple All-Star teams.
  4. Michael Beasley, F Miami Heat: 13.9 pts, 5.4 rebs, 41% from 3

    Beasley finished the regular season on a tear (21 PPG in April), showing the skills that made him the #2 pick last June. He's got a lot of weapons in his offensive arsenal, and his rebounding and defense will only get better with experience. He's my early favorite for next year's Most Improved Player award and will be an automatic 20 and 10 by his third year.
  5. Anthony Randolph, F Golden State Warriors: 7.9 pts, 5.8 rebs, 1.2 blks

    He couldn't find his way out of Don Nelson's doghouse all year, but Randolph shined when given the opportunity to play. His combination of length, athleticism, and perimeter game is very unique. He's got superstar potential (there's that word again) and will be a household name once he gets some minutes. After that, the sky's the limit.
  6. O.J. Mayo, G Memphis Grizzlies: 18.5 pts, 3.8 rebs, 3.2 asts

    Sometimes, offense just looks too easy for Mayo. You've heard whispers about O.J. moving to the point, but he's much better suited to play off the ball. He's got a deadly jumper and a wide range of offensive skills, and he's not unselfish enough to run a team. His name will eventually be amongst the top scorers in the League on a yearly basis, and if he learns to use his gifts on defense (and his team can win some games), he won't need to play HORSE to get invited to All-Star Weekend.
  7. Eric Gordon, SG Los Angeles Clippers: 16.1 pts, 46% FG, 85% FT

    Gordon excelled as a starter this year, averaging 18 points per game with solid percentages. He's quick enough to go by shooting guards and too strong for smaller, faster defenders. Throw in his superb athleticism (remember, he was the top overall athlete at the pre-draft combine), ball-handling, and 3-points shooting, and you've got a lethal scorer. Worst case? The west coast's Ben Gordon.
  8. Javale McGee, C Washington Wizards: 6.5 pts, 3.9 rebs, 1 blk

    Washington's season was lost from the beginning, yet coaches could only find 15 minutes per game for McGee? In limited action, Javale showed flashes of brilliance: he's very athletic, runs the floor like a guard, and can even put the ball on the floor. He can be very good but still has a long way to go. Improving his 49% from the field is a good starting point.
  9. Jason Thompson, PF Sacramento Kings: 11.1 pts, 7.4 rebs, 50% FG

    With or without Blake Griffin, Kings' fans should be happy with their frontcourt of the future. Thompson was the biggest surprise of the lottery, but scouts in Sacramento clearly did their research. He complements Spencer Hawes very well with his versatility and ball-handling at 6'10. If he can extend his range, he'll be able to play three positions and cause mismatches on a nightly basis.
  10. Marreese Speights, PF Philadelphia 76ers: 7.7 pts, 3.7 rebs

    Speights definitely showed that he can play, making solid contributions in limited minutes for a playoff team. While he lacks the athleticism and upside of a guy like McGee, Speights has the skills to be a starter in this League. It just doesn't look like it will be in Philly where the frontcourt is pretty crowded (unless they can find a way to unload Brand). Like many of these guys, he'll just have to wait.
  11. Courtney Lee, SG Orlando Magic: 8.4 pts, 1 stl, 40% from 3

    Lee has been great for the Magic since taking over the starting role and was their best player in the first two games of the Philly series. He's an excellent shooter and possesses the athleticism and ball-handling ability to get to the rim. With his talent, he has a chance to become Orlando's best perimeter player in a few years and makes Hedo Turkoglu expendable if he asks for toGreg OdenGreg Odeno much this summer.
  12. Nicolas Batum, SF Portland Trailblazers: 5.4 pts, 2.8 rebs

    There are few question marks on the Blazer roster for next year, but starting small forward is one of them. Batum got the nod this year and did very litte with it numbers-wise. Nevertheless, he's got the length and athleticism to be an all-world defender and won't be 21 until December. If nothing else, he'll be a key component to the contender Pritchard is building in Portland.
  13. Greg Oden, C Portland Trailblazers: 8.9 pts, 7 rebs, 1.1 blks

    It's impossible to say what's going to happen with this guy. He's got the natural gifts of an All-Star, the rebounding and shot-blocking prowess of a Defensive POY in waiting. Then, there's the injuries; the inability to recover in a timely fashion (work ethic?); the questionable will to excel at the game of basketball. Heads says he's a superstar. Tails says he's a bust.
  14. Kevin Love, PF Minnesota Timberwolves: 11.1 pts, 9.1 rebs, 79% FT

    Outside of rebounding, Love didn't show any of the skills that made him the 5th pick in the draft. He didn't shoot well (45% from the field and 10% from 3) or wow anyone with his passing skills. He'll average a double-double for the next decade or so but lacks the athleticism to become an elite player.
  15. Jerryd Bayless, G Portland Trailblazers: 4.3 pts, 1.5 asts

    This is based on potential alone. He couldn't find the court buried on a team with Pacific Ocean depth and shot poorly when he did get a chance to play. But, he's got a nice package of offensive skills, is extremely explosive, and has a chip on his shoulder from slipping in the draft. I expect him to work his way into the rotation next year and take off from there.
  16. D.J. Augustin, PG Charlotte Bobcats: 11.8 pts, 3.5 asts, 44% from 3

    He played much better than many thought he would this year: his shooting was as good as advertised, and he limited his turnover to less than 2 per game. Still, I see his ceiling as Jameer Nelson (that doesn't mean All-Star) because he is too small and doesn't get assists. Felton is still the best point guard on that team, and D.J. is better off as a reserve for the next few years.
  17. J.J. Hickson, PF Cleveland Cavaliers: 4 pts, 2.7 rebs

    Big Z and Big Ben are getting old, and Mike Brown will eventually realize that Anderson Varejao isn't good. Hickson has the strong body and athleticism to be a force on both ends of the floor in Cleveland. He blocks shots, attacks the rim, and can shoot out to 15 feet. Expect solid contributions from Hickson for the Cavs next year.
  18. Mario Chalmers, PG Miami Heat: 10 pts, 4.9 asts, 2 stls
    Darrell ArthurDarrell Arthur
    Miami's backcourt is set for the future (let's face it: Wade's not going anywhere). Chalmers is more than capable of handling the point and can drill the open jumper when Dwyane decides to run the show. He is already one of the top thieves in the League and will only get better from a one-on-one defensive standpoint. He'll develop into an excellent sidekick but won't ever be a top-flight PG.
  19. Darrell Arthur, PF Memphis Grizzlies: 5.6 pts, 4.6 rebs

    Arthur didn't produce as much as people thought he would after debuting with 11 and 15 against the Rockets in October. Because touches are few and far between on a team with Mayo and Gay, he gets a free pass. He's got the athleticism to wreak havoc in the paint on both ends of the floor.
  20. Luc Mbah a Moute, SF Milwaukee Bucks: 7.2 pts, 5.9 rebs, 1.1 stls

    He outplayed Joe Alexander and even started 52 games for the Bucks this year. How did he do it? Defense. He might never be a reliable shooter or scorer, but Mbah a Moute will always find minutes because of his defense. He's got the size and strength to guard three or four positions and works extremely hard.


    *Note: Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez have not been included because both are 24, were drafted in 2007, and have been playing professionally for years now.
fastfingers
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whoever wrote this is crazy.

whoever wrote this is crazy. Scrolling up, i think the crazy one is Mike.

The8thDeadlySin
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I love the opening paragraph

I love the opening paragraph but the rankings are average. I could predict this. Pay me to write average articles please!!

TimberTroll
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You can't tell me you know

You can't tell me you know who has the most potential after just one season where many players didn't even play. It's hard to even do 2005. 1. Chris Paul 2. Deron Williams 3. Bynum 4. Granger 5. Bogut 6. Monta Ellis 7. Nate Robinson 8. Villanueva 9. David Lee 10. Marvin Williams. Players like Frye, Felton, May, Bass, Warrick, Louis Williams, and Kleiza still could eventually raise up quite a bit.

monster_mullet
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Wack Rankings...

There are definitely players from this draft who either deserve to be on the list (see Donte Greene, Danilo Gallinari in New York or Joe Alexander Milwaukee) or be higher on this list (Jerryd Bayless is a freak of nature and Greg Oden is still 7'1'' with huge bulk and athleticism, how is he #13?! You're telling me Batum has better potential than Oden?). I have beef with Jevale McGee being ranked so highly as well as Marreese Speights.

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I'm confused

Is this a redraft of 2008 or an appraisal of the 2008 rookie class?

It doesn't work either way.

Oden was drafted in 2007. So it can't be a redraft of 2008.

Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez were among the top rookies of the 2008 class yet don't make an appearance here.

I would switch Westbrook and Lopez. Westbrook has a long way to go before he is a quality NBA point guard...his turnovers and BBIQ leave a lot to be desired. Lopez on the other hand is very close to being a quality NBA center.

kizolo
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I think this is a list based

I think this is a list based on who will be the best pro in the future based on their performance this year? Maybe? I have no idea why Marc Gasol is not on this list. Why isn't Chalmers ranked higher? So many problems with this list.

Stanford hoops
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dfish

prob because he has turned the ball over awhole lot...yes he did have a great game one and he has been playing well but he has not been perfect..you have to look at the turnovers and the fact that the guy hes guarding is playing very well( better then rose in fact)

boomdizzal
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i agree with d rose, but

i agree with d rose, but anthony randolph is the real deal. based on potential that guy has to be behind rose, westbrook is close and i can see some putting him above AR but no way is beasley or lopez have more ability then that kid. beasley has just shown to be a shooter with rebounding ability and lopez's solid player. AR is more athletic then those 2, quicker, better ball handling, and Potentially can play the 1,2,3 or 4 and become a better post player, shot blocker then the 2 of them. where is anthony morrow, brandon rush, rudy fernandez, hibbert? this site irritates me when they compare their draftees to nba stars. dont tell me dunleavy jr. is bird and kwame brown is kg. i only heard this site make that comparison and it makes me hate players when they cannot live up to their billing. calling eric gordon a better ben gordon, is just absurd. eric gordon at best is gonna be the west coast ben gordon. gerald henderson is the next dahntay jones, almost in no way comparable to spree. jordan hill is the next jerome moiso/ aldridge. ty lawson should be compared to kyle lowry and plays nothing like terrel brandon. players should be listed with a combination of certain great pros attributes but comparing them to a great is not needed. telling me henderson is comparable to spree is telling me he has a chance to be a top 3 sg and can easily put up 20 pts a game.

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I agree with D Rose....the

I agree with D Rose....the dude is 20 and he is already dominating out there. Rondo was doing great until the last couple games when the Bulls backed off him, after that he was just average. When you try to pressure the guy he will kill you, but if you back off him, you will be alright.

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This is a joke right???

Jerryd Bayless & D.J. Augustin not in the top 10, but Speights & Lopez are?!?!?!
Im SPEECHLESS!!!!!

Gordon is gonna be better than Mayo...and I still cant believe Lopez is #3, hes gonna be the same player his whole career, you put him ahead of Beasley, then said Beasley would be an automatic 20-10 guy by his 3rd year, Lopez will never get anywhere near that!!!

HORRIBLE LIST!!!!!

payingattention
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I was please to see the

I was please to see the almost-completely-overlooked-by-almost-everyone Anthony Randolph high on your list. Trouble is, he's too low. He's the guy most people thought Beasley was but isn't, a ball-seeking missile on both offense and defense. And he's the youngest player in the NBA. Golden State of all teams got lucky for once. Rudy Fernandez should have found his way onto the middle of your list, otherwise you have real good food for thought and argument. Nice job.

Forte IV
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Bad list

This is a bad list. You cant say the Brook Lopez will be a better player then OJ Mayo or Eric Gordon. Gordon and Mayo will be known for years as deadly scorers for years to come

mikeyvthedon
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Questions

It is funny, because I actually made a list of players from this draft class yesterday. My list was based on who I felt would have the best potential career from this ROOKIE class (not DRAFT class, just wanted to make sure there was no confusion). Career potential basically takes into account where the player will be ranked when all is said and done amongst their peers, and basically who would be ranked ahead of who when it comes to all-time rankings. Yes, these players all are different and play different positions, etc., but I am just taking into account the potential averages, accomplishments and roles in their teams success, which of course is extremely hard to predict. But, I have made lists and tried to track player potnetial most of my life, and I find it fun to guess and see if I was close to being right.

My question with your article I guess is are you gauging the potential based on who has the most or on where you think they will end up in their careers. It just does not seem very well defined and it almost seems like you are playing it safe in your analysis, saying, "This guy could be this or that" rather than giving any of your own opinion as to what you might think will happen to the player. I could be way off, but I just found that some players were ranked extremely low, but I guess that is probably just your stated opinion on how the players might develop. I foresee a much different development of players, which I guess is based on the fact that I see a few rookies put in excellent positions to contribute to potentially championship winning teams. I myself rank Bill Russell ahead of both Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just for the fact that he is the consummate winner in all of basketball, and I tend to say all of professional sports. While winning championships does not necessarily mean someone is ranked ahead of someone else career wise (In that case, Darko would trump LeBron James), someones contribution to winning a championship or multiple championships definitely makes someones career look pretty sweet. In any case, I guess I will stop babbling and just assume that this is your list of who you feel will be the best potential players once their career is finished. I will give mine, though I just tend to see the potential of these players differently.

!. Derrick Rose: A no-brainer to me, as I believe he will be the best point guard in the league by 2011
2. Greg Oden: He has been hurt, he has not lived up to the expectations given to him and people are already giving him the label of being the biggest bust since Michael Olowakandi. I am not one of those people. I truly believe that Greg Oden is a winner, he does great things for his team on both ends of the floor and that people will eventually be extremely wrong about their analysis on him in his first two years in the league. I think that players get hurt, and while injuries should be taken into account, I have never heard as many people rule a player out basically based on franchise superstition (LaRue Martin, Bill Walton, Sam Bowie). I believe that Greg Oden will contribute in big ways to Portland being a championship caliber team in the next few years and I guess I am taking the "he is going to be a multiple All-Star and help his team win a lot of basketball games" road rather than "he is always going to be hurt and never live up to his potential" angle that so many people have loved to play. He wants to win, he wants to get better and I think he has a desire to be great. I could go on and yes I live in Portland, but I feel that people are really taking a sad approach when it comes to Greg Oden, and I was shocked to see him at 12 on the list.
3. OJ Mayo: He impressed me in many ways his rookie year, and I was a big critic of his. I think he is an All-Star in the making, and if the Grizzlies draft well, he could indeed be a solid team leader.
4. Russell Westbrook: I think the Oklahoma City Thunder are building a team, and that Westbrook could indeed become an elite point guard. His defense prowess was well documented, and his athleticism is puts him in an elite category. Once he develops his mid range game, he could be one of the leagues best.
5. Michael Beasley: He has a ways to go, but he looks like a guy who could one day be one of the top scorers in the league. If he builds his intensity on the defensive end and works on his conditioning, he might be an All-NBA performer.
6. Rudy Fernandez: He will be a great NBA player, sky is honestly the limit. Has an incredible basketball IQ, excellent team mate, extremely well conditioned and an automatic shot. I think it is hard not to see him as a similar player to Manu Ginobili, which I see as being an incredible compliment. He may end up being one of the best players in the league and I am interested to see how the Blazers will end up using him as I believe it will be hard to keep him off the floor.
7. Eric Gordon: He is a more athletic version of Ben Gordon, and we will see if that translates into him making the Clippers play-off caliber. Really depends on who the team ends up playing with him, but he looks like a stud.
8. Anthony Randolph: All signs point to him being a potentially gigantic steal. Whether it be with the Warriors or someone else, this guy could eventually be a nightmare to defend and with his length and athleticism make things very difficult on his opponents. The best is yet to come.
9. Brook Lopez: He definitely seems like a steal at 10, he has a wonderful touch and great footwork on the offensive end. I think his lack of athleticism will eventually stunt his growth as a player. He had a better rookie year than I expected, will be interesting to see if he continues to grow and how the Nets fare as a team. I expect him to be a solid big man, but do not see him being the man to lead the Nets to the promised land.
10. Jerryd Bayless: To me, he has killer instinct and it was very hard for me to see why he played so little as a rookie. I think he will lead to Sergio's exit and will either eventually transplant Blake as the point guard of the Blazers or have a great career playing for someone else. It is hard to call him a steal at this point, mainly because the class is so ridiculously deep that he is projected somewhere near where he was drafted, but I believe he will do great things.
11. Nicolas Batum: Exceeded expectations, a player whose numbers do not show the whole story. Smooth, athletic and with a great nose for the ball and excellent instincts. He plays with a lot of heart and he might end up being ranked even higher. A total steal and the Scottie Pippen comparisons are very warranted. He may not become Pippen, but will be a starter and important role player for his career.
12. Kevin Love: I am a big fan of Kevin, as I have been watching him play since his freshman year all the way through at the Oregon HS State championships. Total man child and I was very glad that he had a relatively healthy and what I consider to be a successful rookie year. My problem is that Minnesota lacks any identity and is extremely far away from being a contender. I think as long as they have Kevin and Al Jefferson down low, thye will have a couple of guys who can score down low and board, but will have absolute fits on defense. Defense and conditioning are two huge what-ifs for Kevin Love, and I am very interested in how he will progress and wish him all the best.
13. Jason Thompson: He lived up to his billing and more, some people even calling him a steal. Will be a great player to monitor and his future depends of course on the draft and whether he can continue to develop on offense. Also should be interesting to see if Sacramento builds a defensive identity.
14. Courtney Lee: Solid role player for the Magic this year and it appears that he will build as a player and could become a very high level role player. Seems that as longas he is on the Magic, he has a bright future.
15. DJ Augustin: Excellent shooter and floor leader who should be a starting PG for good teams in the league. All depends on how they build in Charlotte, but I have a feeling he is definitely going to be a big part of their future.
16. Marreese Speights: Seems like he found a good fit on Philly, definite scoring PF with a lot of talent.
17. JaVale McGee: He seems also like he can put up numbers in a hurry and has a solid skill set, but his frame leaves questions about his development.
18. Mario Chalmers: Solid defender who is good at most things if not great in one area. Seems like he has a chance to shine on a Miami team with Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley to build around.
19. Marc Gasol: Had a better rookie year than I thought, but I also think athleticism and conditioning could be big problems. I know he is quite skilled, but I just think he will be a role guy and I do not expect him to be a top center in the league.
20. Brandon Rush: Seems like he is headed towards being a solid role player.

Just Missed the cut: George Hill, JJ Hickson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Roy Hibbert, Darell Arthur

Not a perfect list by any means, and my analysis was rushed as I have to go to work, but I am happy to see how it fares.

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You having 4 players from

You having 4 players from the Portland team will be having a lot of readers scratching their heads, but most of them haven't had the opportunity to see what you have seen. I think you have Oden ranked way too high, but the others will do you proud. I know it's unfair to judge a guy who is coming off of career threatening major knee surgery but I have to believe Kevin Pritchard would love to have a do-over and pick Kevin Durant instead. The only weakness in Portland/'s starting lineup THIS year was at Durant's position. He would have given them another half dozen wins.

freeman
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BAD rankings.

i think this is pretty scewed up. i mean, randolph at number 5, and lee at somewhere way down there? and brandon rush didnt even made it to this list, he's got a better rookie season than Speights and McGee. And yeah, where is George Hill? I can't believe Love didn't made it to the top ten.
c'mon man, you can do better than that. the rightful rookies that should've been on that list were pretty obvious.

fastfingers
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mikeyvthedon's ranking looks

mikeyvthedon's ranking looks okay except rudy shouldn't be that high on the list because he's way way too old. rudy is basically an established pro in europe. he's basically reached his peak. it's like saying calderon will continue to get better.

this is based on potential. oden right now, has greater potential than any other player in the league. of course he can turn into a bust, but if his hype is correctly, he's expected to outplay derrick rose.

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Where is Danilo?

Give Gallinari more credit!!!! As I am writing from Italy and saw many times Danilo play, I am confident he will go through all his back problems and will emerge as one of the top 20 in the league ending as the best all time italian basketball player.

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What about the ÑBA rookies?

Cool article but what about Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez? I've seen them play in europe for a long time and I know that in a few years they'll be at the top 10 of this list!

mikeyvthedon
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Danilo

I actually agree that Danilo should be on the list, he played so few times this year that it was a definite oversight. I got to see him play a few times and I liked what I saw. He is confident and has kind of a mean streak, plus you cannot deny his skill set. I remember hearing earlier this year that D'Antoni wanted him to shoot about 8 threes per game. Well, my bad on leaving out Danilo, I would put him somewhere in the top 15.

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yea gallinari should not

yea gallinari should not only be on the list but deff in the top 10. i watched every game he played this season, and when he was on the floor he shot at a high %, played defense better then we thought he would and without a doubt made the knicks a much better team when he was on the floor. and he was hurt the whole season, if he can make it back to 100% after this surgery on his back, he will be a 6th man of the year candidate for years to come.

mikeyvthedon
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4 Blazers

I do have 4 players from the Blazers, but it is more due to the situation of the players that they wound up on the list together. Greg missed what shpuld have been his rookie year, Rudy was playing pro ball overseas and they had two rookies. Even so, if you were evaluating the premier players in this rookie class, I doubt anyone would keep these 4 out of their top 20. As far as Kevin Durant, yes he looks like a total stud, you can say the Pritchard wishes he had a do-over, but hindsight is 20-20. I remember hearing earlier this year that someone asked the GMs what they would have done at the time and everyone said the exact same thing. You do not pass up a potential dominant big man for a skinny wing player. Winning is the object of the game, and I believe that Oden will help the Blazers do that quite efficiently.

Now, put Durant on the Blazers and he is indeed the best small forward on the team. The Blazers would have a guy beside Brandon Roy to create his own offense as well, so that would be nice. But, lets also think of the repercussions. The Blazers became a force on the boards and offensive glass, and without Oden I think this becomes a weakness. Also, Durant has yet to establish himself as a defender, and this would only add to the Blazers incredibly inefficient perimeter defense. With Oden downlow eating up space on offense and providing a line of protection on defense, it truly makes life a lot easier for the guys he is playing with. This year, I think people almost took it to easy, and teams would exploit defensive switches off of picks which unfortunately lead to Greg picking up a lot of fouls trying to guard smaller and faster players. With time and repitition, Greg will pick up fewer cheap fouls, which will lead him to being an absolute force on that side of the court. Plus, the second half of the season, he had bone spurs in his knee that will be taken care of with off-season surgery and will help him get back to his old athletic self. With a mobile and healthy Greg Oden, sky is truly the limit.

So, if you indeed add Durant to the Blazers this year and subtract Greg Oden, I do not see the Blazers winning many if any more games than they did this year. Durant got hurt as well, which would put the Blazers in the same position as they were when Greg went down, where I do not think they were close to as effective. Also, the reason why the position was a weakness of ours was due to the fact that the Blazers had Martell Webster, our starting SF last year, for 5 minutes all season. With Martell, Nicolas and Travis Outlaw, we have diversity in many skill categories at the 3, and if Durant were there, their would be a definite skew in minutes. While Travis did spend time as the back-up PF, and provided a mismatch on offense, he also killed us with his being over powered and his lack of help on the boards. You can point to Durant averaging a lot of rebounds in college, but so did Michael Beasley, and you can not tell me that they provide close to the low post presence Greg Oden does. It almost leaves me to question the Big 12 conference in that players have the ability to rebound out of their minds (Durant, Beasley and Griffin, though Blake Griffin is a beastly athlete and a prototype PF). Actually, Durant did play 5 most of the time on defense for Texas, which would lead to his getting lots of rebounds, but also to the fact that Texas lost in the second round to USC. Oden, playing on a team with little to no help for him in the post, though some great guards, went to the NCAA Finals and he had a huge game against a big Florida squad.

While the NBA is changing, I still do not think you can question the value of having a solid low post presence. It is indeed why I think the Lakers will beat the Cavaliers, unless the bigs do crumble as they did last year. Greg Oden has the luxury of having a premier offensive talent like Brandon Roy, a big guy who can shoot and provide length on defense in LaMarcus Aldridge and a lot of young talented players around him. But, if you were to take Oden away and supplant him with a Kevin Durant, I think it would leave maybe help them in their "weakness" at SF and leave them with a weakness downlow, which is something that can keep a team from being elite. I agree with what Brandon Roy said in that the Blazers are a rebounding back-up PF away from being a championship contending team. They have all the pieces necessary other than that, and with time leading to development, this team will be dominant. Hypothetical aside, I do not think the Blazers are panicing with the pick of Greg Oden yet, and I know I have absolutely no regrets. I guess I am an optimist and I consider myself a huge Greg Oden fan and am waiting for people to eventually jump on he band wagon. With time and luck, hopefully people will.

payingattention
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Mikeyvthedon, you argue your

Mikeyvthedon, you argue your support of Greg Oden very well and I agree that you do not pass on a dominant big man for a skinny wing. Just like I've never heard any criticism of Akeem Olajuwan being picked in front of Michael Jordan. However, dare I slip in the name Sam Bowie? And this is not a criticism of Bowie's game but that there were warning signs about his health that were ignored. Greg was a wonderful asset to the Blazer community his first year when he was recovering from surgery and it is a shame that some fans and the media have put pressure on him to the point where he's lost some of his outgoing personality. Fans, and brainless writers with a deadline, can sometimes suck, bigtime.

Joel Przybilla is a decent, serviceable center, a valuable cog in the Blazer wheel and without seeing his health improve, I see Oden as a junior Przybilla. I'd love to be proved wrong. More to my point, notice how the Blazers lacked in fast break points? Put a skinny 6'9" scoring machine on the floor instead of Oden. Don Nelson would give his left nut for that team. (And make a great run at his first championship!) And backup Przybilla types can be found a heck of a lot easier than another Durant.

Well, I think we've beaten this subject to death, nice posts, mikeyv.

thparadox
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These ranking are GOOOD. Except for Oden.

I think Oden should be higher. If he recovers from injury, he is an extremely gifted athlete. He admittedly looked horrible this year.... but it was a combination of health and lack of experience. The more D he plays, the less foul prone he will be. The more offense he plays, the better his post moves will be.

I think it's obvious that he was lacking in confidence this year. Lets not forget that this guy had an injured right hand and learnt to shoot FTs with his left hand at a 65% clip. He clearly has talent in him.

I would put him a bit higher than Eric Gordon on this list based on that.

WHY ARE PEOPLE HATING ON BROOK LOPEZ?

Have you seen this guy play? He's very solid and fundamental. Not only does he bring solid D and excellent rebounding, but is also a go-to option in the post. He's already like Big Z with better defence. You guys think that he has peaked??... the guy is only 21.

Perhaps DeAndre Jordan should be on the list as well.

canan
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class of 2008

So, when you read the following list, consider these facts: This list is NOT ranking the top rookies of the class of 2008 based on how they performed this year; while they're play this year was considered, the list is predominantly based on potential. travesti

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