NBA All-Star Weekend: Rookies Take Home Skills Challenge and Slam Dunk Contest Victories

The Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard continued to add to his impressive rookie campaign by winning the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday in Houston. (nba.com)

The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard continued to add to his impressive rookie campaign by winning the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday in Houston. (nba.com)

It’s been quite the All-Star Weekend for our NBA rookies.  After an impressive Friday night of BBVA action, the League’s newst talent took center stage during Saturday night’s line-up of events.

Out of the four events that took place in Houston last night (Shooting Stars Challenge, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout, and the Dunk Contest), two of the events were won by rookies. Continue reading

BBVA Rising Stars Challenge: Rookies Play Well, Chuck Victorious Again

While we were hoping the game would highlight just the rookies of the league, Kenneth Faried and the rest of the sophomores had a different idea.  Faried led Team Chuck to a 163-135 victory with 40 points and 10 rebounds.

While we were hoping the game would highlight just the rookies of the league, Kenneth Faried and the rest of the sophomores had a different idea. Faried led Team Chuck to a 163-135 victory over Team Shaq with 40 points and 10 rebounds. (nba.com)

Team Shaq is going home sad tonight.  For the second time in as many years, Team Chuck came out on top, overcoming the lack of the first overall draft pick for the second year in a row, and not having the opportunity to have Kyrie Irving play for him again this year.

Regardless of which Team you were rooting for tonight, everyone came out a winner.  Both squads featured the best young talent in the league, and it showed tonight…on the offensive side of the ball.  In terms of statistics, this night was fantastic: Team Chuck 163-Team Shaq 135 with both teams shooting at least 62% from the field.  Numbers aside, it was a great way for the nation to see just how much the League’s rookies have grown in their short time in the season.  Here’s a running commentary/breakdown of tonight’s first-half action that can only make us salivate about what’s to come throughout the rest of this weekend: Continue reading

Harrison Barnes: In His Own Words

For quite awhile now, we here at NBA Rookie Class have tried to secure an interview with some of your favorite NBA rookies in the hopes of getting them to share some of their early career experiences with you, the readers.

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough pull yet to land ourselves that breakthrough interview.  Thankfully, though, our good friends over at Sound Cloud have!

Harrison Barnes has had an enjoyable start to his career throughout his young rookie season.(goldenstateofmind.com)

Harrison Barnes has had an enjoyable start to his career throughout his young rookie season.
(goldenstateofmind.com)

With that in mind, we bring you a recent interview with Golden State Warriors’ rookie Harrison Barnes.  Barnes has been enjoying a solid start to his career, having already recorded three double-doubles and career highs of 20 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.  Barnes also had himself the posterizing play of the month of November.

In his interview, Barnes talks about his ferocious slam, playing alongside of fellow rookies Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, and much more.

Reality Check: Thunder’s Jeremy Lamb, Suns’ Kendall Marshall, Hawks’ John Jenkins Demoted

It’s a sad day when reality sets in.  For some of our rookies, that day has already come.

Three rookies from around the league were recently sent down to their organizations’ respective D-League teams in the hopes of getting the players more playing time and experience.

Several first-round draft picks from this years NBA Draft, including 12th overall pick Jeremy Lamb, 13th overall pick Kendall Marshall, and 23rd overall pick John Jenkins, all Continue reading

Rookies Thinking Big

Teammates only a year ago, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist said he can’t wait to face his former U of K companion Anthony Davis on the big stage. (www.bleacherreport.com)

It’s one thing to come into the league and say you plan on making a difference.

It’s another thing to actually follow through on your word.

Two rookies, 2nd overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of the Charlotte Bobcats and last year’s 5th overall pick Jonas Valanciunas, both have their sites set on some pretty big competition this year.  The two have already pinpointed who they can’t wait to square off against this season and while the big names coincide with big men, the results shouldn’t surprise anyone.

In the Bobcats live Media Day chat earlier this week, Kidd-Gilchrist said he can’t wait to square off against former Kentucky teammate, and this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, Anthony Davis.  Valanciunas, however, has his sights set on someone closer to his size, but with a much larger resume than he; Valanciunas can’t wait to square off against Dwight Howard.

It’s good to see rookies want to step up right away when entering the league and facing off against stiffer competition.  It’s even better when they actually give an answer instead of the usual run-around response of “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, I just want to make sure I’m ready for the next game.”

Here’s to Kidd-Gilchrist and Valanciunas having great first games against those they can’t wait to face off against the most.  With that in mind, the Bobcats and Hornets first meet Tuesday, October 9 in a preseason matchup and officially on Friday, November 9 in New Orleans.  Valanciunas will have plenty of time to prepare for Howard, as the Raptors and Lakers don’t square off until Sunday, January 20.

Answering the Call

It appears as though Bernard James may get a chance to make an impact with his new team sooner than anticipated.

Bernard James, shown here at a recent practice, may have a chance to practice alongside Dallas’ first-unit until Chris Kaman returns from a back injury. (www.tumblr.com)

James, a center and the 33rd overall pick out of Florida State, was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks to help clog up the middle of the lane.  James was drafted primarily for his defensive presence, as the Seminoles have produced defensive stalwarts in the past.  The Mavs would seemingly work James into the rotation and give him garbage minutes throughout the season, especially with the acquisition of new center Chris Kaman this summer.Yet, in only the first day of training camp for the new season, Kaman left practice early with a lower back strain.  Kaman hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug over the past few years, as he’s battled foot and ankle issues, among other things.  With Kaman now out, James may very well find himself practicing more with the starting five than he initially expected.

While the Mavericks also have newly acquired PF Elton Brand on the roster, it doesn’t seem likely that Dallas will work with a smaller lineup if they can help it.  Both Brand and Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki are good (if not great) power forwards, but both require a high amount of touches to be truly successful.  Also, neither is a true defensive guru, which could result in a large amount of high scoring affairs.

With all that in mind, it looks as if James has the chance to make the most of this opportunity.  He has the size, stature, and defensive game that allowed Tyson Chandler to find a home in Dallas just a few short years ago.

Here’s to this golden opportunity for James, and to see whether or not he will answer the call.

Boston’s Newest Big Three

This new Boston Three Party may seem to be a bit out of place.  In all fairness, two-thirds of the group most recently played in New York, and mentioning sports teams from New York and Boston in the same sentence is a cause for concern.

Yet none of these gentlemen and former New Yorkers have ever called Madison Square Garden home, and they certainly haven’t bored us to death by saying “Hello” all summer either.  Rather, this new trio is comprised of three new rookie Celtics: No. 21 overall pick Jared Sullinger, No. 51 overall pick Kris Joseph, and super-rookie Dionte Christmas, who signed with the Celtics this summer.

With this combination of former ‘Cuse standouts and one stellar former Ohio State Buckeye, the Celtics have plenty of incoming talent, and should be excited about what the future holds for the organization.  Even more exciting were the slew of tweets sent by the three new Beantown Ballers this afternoon:

If this is any indication of how these three will act as professionals in the future, than the Celtics have nothing to worry about.  These young adults took their time to help read to the youth of Boston, and spend some time with them on a good, old-fashioned Duck Tour boat in Boston’s Back Bay.  Now if they can get No. 23 overall pick Fab Melo to join them the next time out, we may be looking at our early front runners for the season’s first recipient(s) of the Kia Community Assist Award.