Shot Clock Violation: 24 Things We Learned on Nov. 25

As we all know, teams have 24 seconds to get a shot off.  Some times, teams are successful; other times, they fail miserably.  Here at NBA Rookie Class, we plan on succeeding time and time again in bringing you the 24 best, worst, and most interesting things that our NBA rookies did from that day’s games, or the night before.

1) Jonas Valanciunas played like a veteran.  22 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists.  He made his other foreign Toronto big man Andrea Bargnani look extremely useless, as Bargnani finished 2-of-19 from the field for a total of 4 points.

2) Valanciunas has now issued at least one block in his last five games.  The big man knows how to play defense.

Andre Drummond really, really, really likes playing defense (probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com)

3) Some other rookie big men also know how to play defense.  Detroit’s Andre Drummond had three blocks including this nice one against Carmelo Anthony.

4) Drummond still doesn’t have a clue on offense, as he went 1-of-6 from the field, finishing the game with two points.  Offensively, he’s just challenged.

5) Drummond’s rookie teammate (or super-rookie) Kyle Singler is far from offensively challenged.  Singler finished the night with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 3-point, 4-of-5 free-throw) and 3 rebounds.

6) Singler needs to stop fouling.  He had five fouls tonight, the fifth time this season that he’s had 4 or more fouls in a game.  Too many fouls will start to equal too much bench time, and not enough development.

7) Detroit’s Kim English is ineffective in only four minutes of play, but that’s on the coaching staff for not playing him enough.  It’s also difficult to make a difference with only two shot attempts, as well.

8) English should ask the Knicks’ Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland, as the two of them know a thing or two about limited opportunities.  The two Knickerbocker rookies only had 5 attempts between the two of them in 16 combined minutes of action.

9) Evan Fournier of the Nuggets excelled with his few shot attempts.  2-of-2 from the field; however, it took Fournier 11 minutes to get those looks, showing that the team still isn’t that confident in his abilities.

10) The Orlando Magic also didn’t give 15th overall pick Maurice Harkless many looks tonight.  Harkless scored 5 points on 2-of-3 shooting, but the Magic coaching staff must like what they see, as Harkless received the nod to start tonight.  Harkless showed his appreciation by contributing on the defensive end with 3 rebounds, a steal, and a block.

11) Andrew Nicholson came off the bench for the Magic, and was extremely efficient offensively: 4-of-6 shooting from the field.  Nicholson, however, needs to work on his aggressive nature on the defensive side of the ball so that he too can one day start for Orlando.

12) Playing off the opposing bench, Jared Sullinger scored 11 points and pulled down 6 offensive rebounds.  With numbers like that, it seems that Sullinger could be in the starting line-up again very soon.  The personal fouls, though, need to be taken care of (4 fouls in 20 minutes of play).

13) Austin Rivers is trying to work his way back into New Orleans’ starting line-up as well.  He’s not having much success, however: 2-of-10 from the field with 3 turnovers.  Rivers did fill out the stat sheet quite nicely, though: 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a block.

14) Anthony Davis didn’t play.  Again.  That doesn’t bode well for his future, as injuries this early can never be a good sign.

15) You know you’re good when someone refers to a night during which you scored 13 points and handed out 7 assists as a “bad night”.  Portland’s Damian Lillard did struggle with ball control (4 turnovers) and getting open shots (blocked 3 times), but anytime a rookie point guard can make a heads up play such as this, the turnovers and blocks against become afterthoughts.

16) Lillard also recorded 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.  Even when we try to find faults with his game, he still plays an all-around great game.

17) It’s nice to see Lillard’s rookie partner-in-crime Meyers Leonard getting a few starts.  Leonard scored 12 points and added 3 rebounds and a block.  Given more time to develop as a young big in the league, Leonard could be recording double-double’s in no time.

18) Only time will tell if several Lillard-to-Leonard alley-oops will be highlighted on this site, but it sure would be nice to see some.

19) All rookies combined tonight posted a -72 +/-rating.  Granted, one player can’t be accounted for a whole team, but that number does not look very appealing.

20) At least some rookies played.  Detroit’s Khris Middleton, Boston’s Kris Joseph and Fab Melo, Orlando’s Kyle O’Quinn, Denver’s Quincy Miller, Phoenix’s Kendall Marshall, and Brooklyn’s Tornike Shengelia didn’t get to hit the court at all.  A few of the aforementioned weren’t even allowed to dress.

Arnett Moultrie needs more time to develop, something that Philly hasn’t been giving him (nba.com)

21) Philadelphia’s Arnett Moultrie probably would’ve been better off not playing.  He was only given 7 minutes off the end of Philly’s bench, and wasn’t given many opportunities to do anything.

22) Considering Moultrie lead the SEC in rebounds per game last year (not Anthony Davis, as many assume), it’s surprising Philly isn’t giving him more playing time.

23) It’s still surprising that Anthony Davis is out with an injury; it’s not a good sign for longevity in the league.  Just ask Greg Oden.

24) It’s even more surprising that this list made it to 24 things…even if this one isn’t extremely official.

Thanks for reading.  You can comment about any one of the 24 “things”, or bring up something that we failed to mention.  We’re always looking for opinions and ways to improve.

Also, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rookie Rankings: Anthony Davis Drops, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist Rises Again

As we recover from mounds of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and even more turkey, it’s time to check in with our rookies and see how they’ve performed as of late.

Super-rookie Kyle Singler makes his debut in this weeks Rookie Rankings(freep.com)

1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG

It continues to amaze me how well and how quickly Lillard has adjusted to the professional level.  He leads all rookies in the following categories: points per game (19.5), assists per game (5.8), and steals per game (1.5).  If teams can’t start to slow him down soon, the Rookie of the Year contest will be over by the time everyone’s done with their Black Friday shopping.
Last week’s ranking:1 (No change)

2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

The Bobcats somehow keep winning, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist keeps putting up strong numbers across the board.  Correlation?  You bet.  MKG’s energy and ball pressure on the defensive side of the ball has led to easier looks and opportunities for Kidd-Gilchrist on the offensive end.  While the Cats will probably drop off at some point, don’t expect MKG to do so; don’t expect him to fall very far from this list, either, unless someone is outhustling and outperforming him.
Last week’s ranking: 3 (+1)

3)  Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C

Valanciunas must have really good ears.  After ranking fourth last week, Toronto’s new big man has posted two straight double-doubles and three consecutive games with at least one block (not factoring all of the other shots he’s altered).  J-Val’s one weakness so far has been his discipline on the defensive side of the ball, or lack thereof.  Valanciunas has fouled out twice in the past week, and has recorded two other games of four or more fouls.
Last week’s ranking: 4 (+1)

4) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF

After a rather lackluster start to the season for such a high draft pick, Barnes has seemingly put all the pieces together, scoring at a higher clip, playing tougher defense, and taking care of the ball much better.  Barnes’ improved 11.3 ppg now ranks fifth among rookies, and if he continues to score as he has the past week (12, 20, and 9 in 3 games), that number should only climb higher.
Last week’s ranking: 7 (+3)

5) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF

Anthony Davis has played better than advertised…when he actually plays, that is.  Davis has seemingly caught the injury bug and just can’t seem to shake it.  After dealing with a minor concussion earlier in the season, Davis is now battling an ankle injury (the same ankle that bothered him during the Olympics this summer).  When he’s in the starting line-up, though, teams will soon need to put their best defender on him; he put up 28 points and 11 rebounds in his only game this week, a close 117-113 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Last week’s ranking: 2 (-3)

6) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF

While fellow Detroit rookie Andre Drummond provided some flash in his game that helped to land him on our Rookie Rankings, Kyle Singler (the super-rookie) is starting to perform at a level that not many anticipated from the former Duke Blue Devil.  Singler recently strung together three straight double-digit point games and, aside from a disappointing 2-point performance against the Magic, looks to keep the numbers up.
Last week’s ranking: N/A

7) Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics, PF

It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Sullinger started to receive legitimate starters minutes…and the ball.  Sullinger, while being given the nod early in the season to start, has been moved around as Doc Rivers and the rest of the C’s look to find a balance in their offense.  It looks as though more of their offense will need to go through Sullinger now, after posting his first career double-double this week, and shooting an impressive 57% from the field.
Last week’s ranking: N/A

8) Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors, SG

If you give him minutes, he will perform.  Terrence Ross has scored 10 points or more in games in which he’s been given 14 minutes or more; that feat occurred twice this past week, as Ross’s contributions on the offensive end have been efficient and well-needed.  Given more time, Ross can continue to grow as an all-around player; in his most recent game against the Bobcats, the newest Toronto shooter scored 11 points, while also filling the stat sheet with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, and no turnovers.  Landry Fields should be on his guard, or else he’ll soon be turning over his starting spot to Ross.
Last week’s ranking: N/A

9) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG

He’s a foreign point guard for the Timberwolves, and yet his game-play has kept others from asking “How soon will the other foreign point guard (Rubio) return?”  Shved only played once this week (L 101-94 to Denver) but still played well enough to earn himself a second week in our rankings.  Should he continue his strong play until Rubio returns, he will have earned himself minutes even after the better-known foreigner hits the floor again.
Last week’s ranking: 6 (-3)

10) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG

Dion Waiters continues to make the list, but barely.  Waiters shot an abysmal 25% this week, and hasn’t gotten to the free-throw line as often as of late.  With a big game against the difficult Miami Heat tomorrow night, it doesn’t look as though Dion’s percentages will improve anytime soon.  He can only hope to contribute in other ways to help the struggling Cavs.
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-5)

Rookie Rankings: And What A Start It’s Been

With just over a week into the NBA season, we’re finally seeing our rookies getting some playing time.  Granted, not all are making the largest impact on their team; yet there are those that are rising to the occasion of helping out their franchise while others continue to struggle to see any court time.  With that in mind, here are the first formal Rookie Rankings, based off of the first few weeks of the season:

1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG

Lillard has been an absolute wonder to watch so far this season.  Whether he’s passing on the pick-and-roll, or taking the ball to the hoop, Lillard has been very impressive with one of the oldest plays in the book, and it has helped him to an early season stat line of 19.3 ppg and 8.0 apg, both tops among rookies.  Lillard has already taken on a long list of worthy opponents, including the Lakers, Thunder, and Clippers, and has proven that he’s ready to run with the big boys.  Once the game continues to slow down for him, it will be amazing to see what Lillard can really do.
Last week’s rating: N/A

2) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF/C

I guess there is plenty reason to fear the Brow.  Davis has impressed in the early going of his career, averaging 14.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg.  Add in the 1.5 bpg that he is averaging, and Davis is living up to the hype that many expected from him.  A mild concussion has kept him out of most of the Hornets’ contests, but once cleared, expect Davis to go right back to his shot-blocking ways.
Last week’s rating: N/A

3. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG

This is easily the surprise of the week for NBA Rookie Class.  While most assumed that Waiters was over-drafted at No. 4 by the Cavaliers, especially after the Summer League and Preseason performances that Waiters had, Dion has be quick to prove his doubters wrong.  Through five games, the Cavs newest shooter is averaging 15.4 ppg as well as 2.6 apg.  While the secondary numbers aren’t the most impressive, if Waiters continues to score (i.e. 28 points vs. Clippers, 10-of-17 FG, 7-of-11 3PT), I don’t think that Cavs fans will mind very much.
Last week’s rating: N/A

4. Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C

After taking time last year to continue to work on his skills overseas, America (well, Canada, actually) is getting its first look at Valanciunas, and Toronto fans couldn’t be happier.  Valanciunas is doing something that hasn’t been seen by a Raptors big man in quite a long time: playing defense.  While the defensive numbers aren’t there yet (only 0.8 bpg), Valanciunas is contributing with 8.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg to a very young Toronto squad.  Yet Jonas’ biggest attribute to the team is his defense, and regardless of the numbers, he should continue to see plenty of minutes in Dwayne Casey’s system.
Last week’s rating: N/A

5) Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks, SF

Dallas’ dreaded man has contributed immediately to a Mavericks team that has needed him to do so.  A second-round pick, Crowder has already started this season (in place of the injured Shawn Marion), and could be fighting for starters minutes by season end if the Mavs’ season turns sour.  Crowder’s numbers of 8.6 ppg and 3.0 rpg aren’t breathtaking, yet his efficiency has been: 50% from the field and 50% from three-point land.  Expect Crowder to continue to impact the Mavericks with his high energy, and crazy-awesome hair.
Last week’s rating: N/A

6) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

Davis’ Kentucky teammate Kidd-Gilchrist finds himself slightly lower than his former Wildcat, yet MKG is establishing himself nicely on a young Charlotte team.  MKG has been able to come in and provide high-energy immediately, something that Charlotte is desperate for.  Kidd-Gilchrist’s numbers (8.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.7 spg, & 2.0 bpg) aren’t as impressive offensively as some would expect from a No. 2 overall pick, but his defense (i.e. 1.7 spg & 2.0 bpg) are incredible.  If Kidd-Gilchrist can keep those numbers, expect them to translate to more offensive opportunities, and a few votes for Defensive Player of the Year down the road.
Last week’s rating: N/A

7) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF

Singler, our second super-rookie (second year rookie with first year playing experience) to make the list, has played well in the early season.  The Duke product is averaging 9.4 ppg and 2.8 rpg off the bench for a Detroit team that is still searching for answers.  Singler’s most impressive asset to the Pistons this year has been his three-point shooting, where he is shooting 45.5%.  Should the Motown team continue to struggle, head coach Lawrence Frank may look to give Singler a few starts in due time.
Last week’s rating: N/A

8) Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics, PF

Sullinger’s season began on the bench after starting much of the preseason for the Celtics.  Yet, after an 0-2 start for the team, Doc Rivers placed Sullinger in the starting line-up, and the C’s have gone 2-0 since.  While Sullinger’s numbers haven’t been jaw-dropping (4.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg), he’s carried himself well, especially while having Kevin Garnett barking out orders on the court.  Sullinger’s numbers will continue to rise as his confidence and self-awareness on the court do too, and he may be moving up this list with ease by midseason.
Last week’s rating: N/A

9) Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, SG

Beal, who was taken before Waiters in the Draft at No. 3 overall, has struggled some early in the season.  While the numbers look decent from the outside (8.7 ppg and 2.3 apg), Beal’s field-goal percentage has been quite the opposite (.286).  Beal has the added pressure of trying to make up for the lack of John Wall early for the Wizards and has had to face a difficult Celtics team twice already.  Expect both sets of numbers (averages and percentages) to rise with some time, patience, and the return of John Wall.
Last week’s rating: N/A

10) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF

While the numbers aren’t anything to write home to mother about (8.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.8 apg), especially for someone who was dropping buckets back at UNC, Barnes has adjusted to the NBA well.  He’s started in all five contests for the Warriors, and his percentages are decent (48% FG, 30% 3PT).  Once Barnes gains more confidence in his abilities at the next level, expect all of these numbers to rise.  Barnes is a talented shooter whose confidence is key to his overall play.
Last week’s rating: N/A

NBA Opening Night Recap: Waiters Shows His Stuff, Crowder Solid Off Bench

What an opening night it was.  LeBron finally got his ring, David Stern once again proved that he can’t retire soon enough, and after months of being critiqued and pushed through practices and the preseason, some of the rookies finally got to see some official NBA action with the first professional games of their careers.  Here’s a breakdown of who showed up to play last night, and some who just never got the chance:

Player of the Game:

No. 4 overall pick Dion Waiters drives against fellow rookie, and No. 3 overall pick, Bradley Beal in the players’ first career NBA game. Waiters’ Cavs won, 94-84.

Dion Waiters, a puzzling pick at #4 overall in June’s Draft, showed everything he had to offer last night, scoring 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field, including 2-of-5 from three-point land.  Waiters also contributed on the defensive end with 3 steals to lead the team.  Waiters, who’s preseason play showed some inconsistencies, seemed as if everything truly clicked for him last night, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for him.  Waiters and Cleveland play next on Friday night against the Chicago Bulls.

End of the Bench, Rook:

Unfortunately, this “award” goes to several rookies who simply got caught up in the spirit of competition last night.  Rookies such as Kris Joseph of the Celtics, Robert Sacre of the Lakers, and Jared Cunningham and Bernard James of the Mavs didn’t see the floor at all last night, while others such as Fab Melo (Celtics) and Darius Johnson-Odom (Lakers) weren’t even active for last nights game.  These rookies will get their reps throughout the season; yet nothing can be held against them, or their coaches, for pushing aside player development to get that ever-important first win of the season.  Also, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger played limited minutes last night, as their talents fell by the wayside whilst their teams closed out a close win and played catch-up all night (respectively).

Keep an Eye On:

Although his team suffered a loss, Bradley Beal played well in his time on the court.  Earning the start, Beal shot 2-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from three, and tallied 3 rebounds and 3 assists.  With a depleted offense due to the absence of John Wall at point guard, Beal will have to provide more offense for the team; however, the rest of the team did not meet expectations last night, shooting a poor 35% from the field.  Beal next plays on Saturday against the Celtics.

The Mavs secured an impressive win against the always talented Los Angeles Lakers on the road last night thanks to an impressive performance from Jae Crowder off the bench.  Crowder, who was in and out of the starting lineup throughout the preseason due to injuries, willingly accepted a bench role for the season opener and played well, scoring 8 points on 3-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 3PT) and tallying 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.  Crowder’s role this season looks to have him as a bit of an Energizer Bunny role: he comes off the bench to provide solid play and once he starts, he just keeps going and going and going.  Crowder’s motor should continue to get him minutes and those minutes will lead to results.  Crowder’s next game will be tonight as the Mavs travel to Salt Lake to take on the Utah Jazz.

Rookie Impact: Davis Continues to Shine, Fab Melo Rides the Pine

How’d the rookies perform last night?  Here’s a recap of the best and worst from October 18th.

Rookie Impact: Davis makes his debut, Beal shines amid loss

Yesterday was the first taste of many for the incoming rookie class.  The top three draft picks all saw playing time, and faced much more serious competition than they’ve previously seen in college and the Summer League.  Here’s a breakdown of the rookies’ performances from yesterday’s games:

Boston Celtics 105 — Emporio Armani Milano 75
Washington Wizards 88 — Charlotte Bobcats 100
Miami Heat 79 — Atlanta Hawks 92
Orlando Magic 80 — New Orleans Hornets 85
Golden State Warriors 110 — Los Angeles Lakers 83

Boston Celtics 105 — Emporio Armani Milano 75

All four Celtics rookies saw action against their European opponent yesterday.  Jared Sullinger, who got the start, led the way with 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block in 18 minutes of play, as he tries to work his way into a permanent role as a starter.  Kris Joseph and Fab Melo only scored a combined 2 points in 12 minutes, as the starters and other bench players ahead of them on the depth chart (i.e., Jeff Green and Darko Milicic) had much more productive afternoons, giving the rooks little time to show their stuff.  Also, super-rookie Dionte Christmas saw some solid action coming off of the end of the C’s very deep bench; he recorded 9 points and 4 rebounds in only nine minutes of play.

Washington Wizards 88 — Charlotte Bobcats 100

Charlotte’s second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist squared off against third overall pick Bradley Beal’s Wizards, with the upstart Cats getting the win, thanks in part to MKG’s effort on the defensive end.  This steal led to an easy two points, en route to Kidd-Gilchrist finishing the day with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals.  Fellow rookie Jeffrey Taylor scored a single point in a mere two minutes of action.  Beal, however, had the most impressive numbers on the day, as he led all scorers with 18 points off of the bench.

Miami Heat 79 — Atlanta Hawks 92

The returning champion Heat feature no incoming rookies on this years roster, and all those on the Hawks roster were healthy scratches in yesterday’s lineup.  First round pick John Jenkins, second round pick Mike Scott, and super-rookie Keith Benson all observed yesterdays matchup, in what one assumes is a ploy by head coach Larry Drew to have the players watch and learn before hitting the hardwood.

Orlando Magic 80 — New Orleans Hornets 85

First overall pick Anthony Davis made his preseason debut with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in 23 minutes as a starter as he and fellow rookie Austin Rivers (10 points, 1 assist) helped contribute to a late comback by NO.  Darius Miller also added 5 efficient points off the bench in a quick eight minutes of work.  The Magic’s incoming rookies Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn didn’t experience as much success, as the two combined for 4 points off the bench in 24 minutes of work.  Fifteenth overall pick Maurice Harkless (received in the Dwight Howard trade) is recovering from a sports hernia and did not play.

Golden State Warriors 110 — Los Angeles Lakers 83

Two of Golden State’s three rookies played high-efficiency games in the teams win over the Dwight-less Lakers.  Festus Ezeli recorded 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block and a plus/minus of (+20) on the day, while Harrison Barnes scored 13 points off the bench and finished with a plus/minus of (+22).  The Warriors’ other rookie Draymond Green sat out the game with left knee inflamation.  In Dwight’s place, the 2012 Draft’s Mr. Irrelevant Robert Sacre got the start in Superman’s place and finished the day with 6 points and 4 rebounds, but also 4 fouls in only 18 minutes.  Sacre did, however, score off a beautiful highlight reel pass from Steve Nash.  Other Lakers rookie Darius Johnson-Odom played a brief six minutes, recording only 2 points.

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.