Sophmore rankings

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Sophmore rankings

What does espn say and what do you guys think?

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The difference between being

The difference between being a rookie and a second-year player is not just a season of experience. Fans and coaches also have much bigger expectations for sophomores, with less tolerance for mistakes.

With the season in its second full month, many of the sophs are now finding their stride. The big men are still dominating this list, but the guards are moving up the ladder.

1. Brook Lopez, Nets | Previous rank: 6
Lopez is delivering for the Nets even though opposing teams know he is the team's best offensive player right now. In the two wins the Nets notched this past week, he averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds. The best part is we can expect his production to only increase over the next few months as his new coach and teammates learn to better utilize him. With a few more wins, Lopez's first All-Star appearance would not be out of the question.

Check out more analysis of the league's top sophs.

• Hollinger: Top young bigs
• Soph 20: First edition

2. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies | Previous rank: 1
Gasol continues to be a revelation for a suddenly hot Grizzlies team. Ironically, he scored only 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting during Memphis' impressive three-game winning streak -- this from the league's best finisher at 60 percent for the season. But this is a tribute to his overall talent; he is one of the best scoring/passing combo centers in basketball and does not need to be the main focus on offense to impact a game.

3. Jason Thompson, Kings | Previous rank: 4
Thompson is going through the growing pains of becoming a legit big man in this league. He'll take two steps forward (22 and 14 in the Kings' win over the Hornets), then one step back (2-for-9 shooting against a Miami team without Jermaine O'Neal). He also still spends too much time on the bench due to foul trouble. If he can figure this part of the game out, he'll see a jump in his production. Still, he is clearly making progress overall and has become a scoring threat from both inside and out.

4. Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks | Previous rank: 15
Brandon Jennings isn't the only reason for Milwaukee's unexpected start; Ilyasova has played well, too. He can finish shots inside, he can make perimeter shots and he's a solid rebounder. More than that, he knows how to play: He doesn't rush things or put himself in bad spots on the floor. You can tell he learned the game playing in Europe's top league.

5. Russell Westbrook, Thunder | Previous rank: 2
Westbrook's shooting woes and poor shot selection continue to hurt him. More than two-thirds of his shots come from the perimeter, where he's shooting less than 40 percent (and just 31 percent from 3). But his energy and athleticism are still having a positive impact. More importantly, he is managing the game better and quarterbacking his team into playoff contention.

6. Anthony Randolph, Warriors | Previous rank: 8
Randolph finally put all his prodigious talent together to produce a whopper of a game: 28 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and no turnovers against the Magic. For someone who just turned 20 this past summer, that's special. Now if he can only focus on taking shots in or near the paint and avoid hoisting perimeter jumpers, he'd move into the top four of this list.

7. Ryan Anderson, Magic | Previous rank: 7
With Rashard Lewis back in the lineup, Anderson's playing time has plummeted. And now so have his shooting percentages: He has made only three of his past 17 3s, and 21 of his past 58 shots overall. It typically takes years of experience to become a solid outside shooter with limited minutes and touches, but that's the task he's faced with.

8. Danilo Gallinari, Knicks | Previous rank: 13
The Knicks are on the upswing, and Gallo is part of the reason why. He continues to be a shooting threat and has scored in double figures in three of their recent wins. He's also making defensive contributions, adding 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks so far in December.

Knicks fans are surely envisioning his skills meshing well with a certain MVP-caliber 3-man. I'll put it another way: If Gallo was a Cav, Cleveland would be the best team in basketball.

9. Eric Gordon, Clippers | Previous rank: 12
Gordon's game is improving in almost every aspect. He's becoming a bulldog on defense, fighting for every inch and averaging 1.58 steals per game. And on offense he's getting to the paint more -- and finishing -- which makes him a more effective player. On some nights, he looks like the Clips' best player.

10. Michael Beasley, Heat | Previous rank: 20
Here are two reasons why Beasley is currently finding success: (1) 10 percent of his baskets are dunks this season, compared to 4 percent last season, and (2) his coach has found another way to utilize his talents as a zone-buster.

The term "zone-buster" normally means someone who sits way outside and stretches a zone with his 3-point shot, but Beasley is a better, rarer kind of zone-buster. He is the man in the middle that can make midrange shots in the soft part of a zone or attack the crease and get buckets.

11. O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies | Previous rank: 11
He's been on fire from 3 (hitting 10-of-16 to start December). But it's his improved shot selection and awareness of where teammates are that has caught my eye. His ability to stay focused and team-oriented surely helped Memphis survive its rough start to the season.

12. Derrick Rose, Bulls | Previous rank: 19
Rose is showing signs that he's on his way back to being one of the most unguardable players in the game. His explosiveness with the ball as a dribbler and finisher is on display again. And he's gotten craftier, too, using runners and floaters in the paint.

However, not being a 3-point shooter or a guy who gets to the line a lot hurts him; his true shooting percentage (50.1) ranks 48th in the league among point guards. Still, I project him to move up these rankings as he learns to assert himself more in the offense as both a scorer and facilitator.

13. Anthony Morrow, Warriors | Previous rank: NR
Morrow narrowly missed the cut in my first report, but after scoring 20 or more points in four out of seven games recently, he's found a home in our top 20. In that span, he shot the lights out: 52-of-94 overall and 22-of-42 from 3. He is arguably the best shooter in the NBA; his feel for openings and his overall flow separate him from other shooters.

14. Roy Hibbert, Pacers | Previous rank: 3
Hibbert's minutes and production have taken a nosedive during the Pacers' losing streak. He had seven straight double-figure-scoring games, while playing at least 25 minutes a game, in which the Pacers went 5-2. Since then, he has just one double-figure scoring game. Teams have gone small against the Pacers, which can be a problem for Hibbert, so Indy might just have to start playing more zone defense to get him back into the game.

15. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Nets | Previous rank: 10
CDR is still scoring well, with four games of 20-plus points since Thanksgiving. Although he's not much help on the boards, I like his effort and willingness to use his body when defending. He's competitive, and his spirit played a part in the Nets' ability to rebound after dropping 18 straight.

16. Mario Chalmers, Heat | Previous rank: 17
Chalmers has not shown a lot of improvement since last season, other than as a shooter. That works for the Heat, who need his 39 percent shooting from 3 to help spread the floor for Dwyane Wade. But he needs to clean up his turnovers if he wants to secure his spot beyond the season. If he can manage a game, hit 3s and play solid defense, he'll stick.

17. Rudy Fernandez, Blazers | Previous rank: 9
Fernandez has been providing his usual 3-point shooting and all-around hustle. And he's made big strides on defense. Unfortunately, he is out four to six weeks with a back injury that required surgery. We'll remove him from the next report and consider him again when he comes back.

18. Donte Greene, Kings | Previous rank: 16
Greene has had his moments of glory, like his 24-point explosion in Sacramento's win over New York. But he's still a little too locked into being a scorer and not focused enough on rebounding and defense. In his defense, injuries have forced him to be a 6-11 shooting guard, which isn't his natural position. (His struggles are similar to when Kevin Durant played the 2 during his rookie season.)

Finding playing time for Greene will be tougher when some of the Kings' core players return from injury later this season, but he's earned the right to stay in the rotation.

19. George Hill, Spurs | Previous rank: 14
Hill is quick to the rim and able to finish close shots, he's making 38 percent of his 3s and his turnover rate is low. Factor in his solid defense and you'd think the Spurs were getting just what they need from him. However, he's struggling with his perimeter shot inside the line.

Yes, he's holding his own in San Antonio, but he could be doing a lot more. I think he could be a top-10 to top-15 guy in this class with just a little more success as a shooter.

20. J.J. Hickson, Cavaliers | Previous rank: 18
Hickson has cracked the rotation, getting somewhere near 20 minutes a game now. He has had some nice moments using his size and athleticism. But without the ability to space the floor as a shooter, he's not a perfect fit in Cleveland. If the Cavs make any deals, they'll aim to bring in a shooter at this spot.


Honorable mentions

Greg Oden, Blazers | Previous rank: 5
Oden's game was really starting to get going and he was starting to generate some All-Star buzz. His rebound rate was better than every center in the NBA, save one guy: his teammate, Joel Przybilla. Unfortunately his season is now over after undergoing surgery for another knee injury.

Kevin Love, Timberwolves | Previous rank: NR
Look for Love in this report at the end of the month. He's been doing everything for the Wolves, who have been more competitive since he returned from injury. He's even making 3s, which is a huge weapon for a team nearly devoid of deep threats. He's 5-for-8 so far, after making just 2-of-19 last season.

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Thanks LL !!!!!

Thanks LL !!!!!

TaylorCondrin's picture
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darn straight

brook lopez is incredible, the guy is all-star offense, all-star defense...too bad they dont have a winning mentality and an all-star wing

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thank you i wanted to see

thank you i wanted to see this but do not have a espn insider account

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