Yesterday was a great day to be big. Young bigs all around the league found themselves contributing to their teams in preseason action yesterday, as we creep steadily closer towards the regular season opener on October 30th. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of some of the rookies’ performances from yesterday:
Player(s) of the Game:
This award goes to three rookies who played well yesterday in the limited time they saw: 28th overall pick Perry Jones III of the Oklahoma City Thunder, 54th overall pick Tornike Shengelia of the Brooklyn Nets, and 9th overall pick Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons. Jones III had 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting with 5 assists of the bench for OKC. Shengelia led the way with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in 26 minutes of play. Drummond also played well off the bench, scoring 9 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Drummond’s most impressive stat of the night, however, might have been his 4 blocks; Drummond was also foul free for the evening.
Jones III has increased his scoring output in all three games with an improved shooting percentage each game. Jones III also flashed a bit of his all-around game yesterday with the assists, to go along with 4 rebounds, a steal and a block. Jones, who was sometimes criticized going into the Draft for not putting in the effort at the collegiate level, has been pleasantly surprising this preseason. Much of his work, however, has been during the abscence of key players, meaning that his minutes (and, therefore, his numbers) will probably drop when certain players return.
Very little has been said about Shengelia this offseason, as the Nets clearly have a set starting rotation with several key backups (MarShon Brooks, Andray Blatche) already in place. Yet Shengelia showed as to why he should be left on the roster as a possible 11th or 12th man to provide depth and a scoring spark at multiple forward positions.
Drummond’s impressive night has also helped to quiet doubters who have said he’s not ready for the next level. Drummond’s plus-minus on the night was +24, a sign that he worked well with everyone he stepped on the court with last night, and that his 4 blocks truly made a difference.
End of the Bench, Rook:
Charlotte rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a rough outing last night with only 3 points on 0-of-4 shooting in 18 minutes of starter’s play last night. While Kidd-Gilchrist grabbed 5 rebounds, it was all-for-naught in helping Charlotte’s cause, as they fell hard to the Oklahoma City Thunder. MKG will continue to get the starts as he is the best available option for the Bobcats, but it seems he’s now reaching the inevitable “struggle-bus” of being a rookie.
Keep an Eye On:
Robert Sacre of the Los Angeles Lakers recorded another start for the Purple and Gold. With Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill both out with injuries, Sacre is gaining valuable experience with some of the best in the league, including Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and Paul Gasol. Sacre was also a very efficient 2-of-3 from the floor last night with 4 rebounds and a block.
Kyle O’Quinn of the Orlando Magic also showed off his intangibles side last night. While O’Quinn struggled from the floor shooting only 2-of-7, he did record 8 rebounds and 4 blocks, further cementing his value to the team, even as the 49th overall draft pick.Also, John Henson of the Milwaukee Bucks suffered a knee injury during yesterday’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls, when he collided with teammate Mike Dunleavy going for a rebound at the end of the 3rd quarter. The terms of the injury were undisclosed, but Henson did not return to the game.
A big day for the big men. What will they do next?