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

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Anthony Davis: Still Down and Out

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The first-overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft Anthony Davis is still out with an ankle injury. (www.bleacherreport.com)

It appears as though fans in New Orleans will continue to have to bide their time before they get to enjoy the full potential of their team’s first overall draft pick.

Anthony Davis, who is out with a stress reaction in his left ankle, will be out with the injury for Continue reading

Rookie Rankings: Pistons’ Rookies Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond Impress

Now that everyone has successfully recoverd from the stuffing, turkey, and grandma’s green bean cassarole, it’s time for another week’s Rookie Rankings, leading us right into the most wonderful time of the year.  It’s been a wonderful year for some rookies, but not others.  Did your favorite have what it takes to stay on the list this week?

Pistons rookie Andre Drummond has plenty to be happy about this week, as he worked his way back into our Rookie Rankings (mlive.com)

Pistons rookie Andre Drummond has plenty to be happy about this week, as he worked his way back into our Rookie Rankings (mlive.com)

1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG

It’s getting harder and harder to find faults with Lillard’s performances.  Game after game and week after week, it seems as though no one will be able to unseat Lillard from this top spot on our Rankings.  Lillard averaged 18.3 ppg and 6.8 apg over four games this week; unfortunately, Damian’s offense couldn’t help the Trail Blazers in all aspects, as the team went 1-3 during this weeks games.
Last week’s ranking: 1 (no change)

2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

Kidd-Gilchrist has cooled off ever so slightly, as noticed in his offensive numbers lately (11, 10, 8, 6 points respectively last four games), yet his effort on the defensive side of the ball is still noticed and very much appreciated by the Bobcats.  MKG is still averaging 1.2 spg and 1.4 bpg, very impressive numbers for any SF not named LeBron James and/or Kevin Durant.
Last week’s ranking: 2 (no change)

3) Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C

Valanciunas is starting to look like the steal of the Draft…the 2011 Draft, that is.  While Cleveland got a sure-fire All-Star in Kyrie Irving, Minnesota, Utah, and Cleveland are all kicking themselves for passing up on the big man from Lithuania.  J-Val had another impressive week, shooting 54.5% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line, a very impressive number for a 7-footer.  Valanciunas also shot the ball 33 times from the field and 12 times from the free-throw line, so you know those numbers are battle tested.
Last week’s ranking: 3 (no change)

4) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF

Barnes had himself a solid week of work, including one double-double and one dunk that shocked the NBA world.  While his other numbers may show a still-timid Barnes who is still trying to figure out his role on an ever-evolving Warriors team, plays like the aforementioned show as to why Barnes was drafted 7th overall, and that once he puts everything together, he could be posterizing people like that for years to come.
Last week’s ranking: 4 (no change)

5) Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons, SF

Singler has shot up our rankings in the last few weeks, moving from an unranked-afterthought to someone who could find themselves still moving up if he continues to perform at this level.  Singler scored in double-digits in three of his four games this week, and also recorded his first career double-double with a 16 point, 10 rebound performance in a 108-101 win over Portland.
Last week’s ranking: 6 (+1)

6) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG

Waiters must have heard what we had to say about his performance last week.  Waiters immediately began scoring with a higher rate of efficiency, and getting to the free-throw line more, something that he had been doing a poor job of last week.  He’s also helped in other ways during Kyrie Irving absence, including dishing out 4.3 apg, an improvement over his season average of 2.9.
Last week’s ranking: 10 (+4)

7) Jeff Taylor, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

Taylor has been turning heads as of late, and it’s not simply because of his defense.  A solid all-around four-year player out of Vanderbilt, Taylor makes our list due to his increased contributions on the offensive end for the Bobcats; Taylor scored in double-figures in five straight games before only posting 6 points in a loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.  However, Taylor’s confidence has improved greatly, and he’s much more inclined to take a shot now than he was at the beginning of the season.
Last week’s ranking: N/A

8) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, C

Drummond fell out of our rankings last week due to some inconsistencies, and because he was out-performed by his fellow rookies.  This week, however, Drummond returns with a mission in mind: defense wins championships…and gets you on NBA Rookie Class’ Rookie Rankings.  Drummond, while horrible offensively this week, has contributed on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 9.8 rpg and 1.8 bpg.  Drummond also recorded his first career double-double with a 13 point, 13 rebound effort in a close 91-90 win over Toronto.
Last week’s ranking: N/A

9) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG

Shved’s playing time may quickly dwindle due to Ricky Rubio’s impending return, but Shved surely won’t go down without a fight.  The upstart Russian has averaged 9.8 ppg, 1 spg, and 2.5 apg this week, primarily off the bench.  While it’s Rubio’s job once he returns, Shved still has the opportunity to make his presence known off the bench for the T’Wolves.
Last week’s ranking: 9 (no change)

10) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF

It’s difficult to see a player with so much promise and potential plummet this far in our Rookie Rankings; however, it’s also very difficult to rank Davis much higher than 10th, considering that he hasn’t played in almost two full weeks now, due to a nagging ankle injury.  Should Davis return soon, he could easily find himself ranked much higher.  Should Davis not return soon, he could easily find himself off of this list.
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-5)

Don’t agree with our rankings?  Leave a comment below letting us know who deserves to be where on this list.  Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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.

Anthony Davis: Successful but Susceptible

There’s only so much stress a new player in the NBA can handle.  At some point, each rookie is bound to hit the unavoidable “rookie wall”, or make some sort of “rookie mistake” that either costs his team a game or finds the player a nice piece of the bench to keep warm.  Sometimes it’s both a game and bench time.  Sometimes it’s the “rookie wall” and “rookie mistakes”.

And sometimes it’s injuries.

Anthony Davis, one of the most heralded draft picks in recent years, has yet to run into the “rookie wall” or make a “rookie mistake”.  He has, however, been hit by the injury bug several times already, and the season has yet to reach the quarter mark.

Anthony Davis has the potential, but he needs to be on the court to make a difference for his team (bleacherreport.com)

Davis has been one of this years top rookies when he’s on the court.  AD is averaging 16 points per game (second among rookies), 8.3 rebouds per game (first among rookies), and an outstanding 2.2 blocks per game (also first among rookies).  Were Davis playing in every game in this young season, he probably would’ve unseated Damian Lillard from the top spot in our Rookie Rankings by now.  Yet a minor concussion and a lingering ankle injury have Davis sidelined for five games already and now tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets.One thought behind the injuries is that Davis’ body simply isn’t used to the more physical competition that the NBA offers.  Standing at a tall and lanky 6′ 10″ and 220 lbs., Davis has been pushed around by his larger opponents, and it’s already started to take its toll on his body.

Another issue for Davis is that his body could be going through difficult times as it continues to adjust to itself.  Davis, mind you, entered high school at a mere 6′ 1″ before sprouting to 6′ 9″ by his junior year.  Ideally, Davis should still be a sophomore in college and a mere two years (three at most) away from this massive growth spurt.  As Davis’ body continues to try to grow into its own, Davis continues to put it through rigorous poundings game after game, which can’t help matters very much.

Anthony Davis has all the tools to be a fantastic player.  He has the length, athleticism, and on-court awareness to be an All-Star for years to come.  Right now, though, he just needs his body to cooperate.

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 Ratings: Rookies Continue to Grow and Impress

Damian Lillard contiues to impress throught the early stages of the season (nwsportsbeat.com)

As the season continues to grow, so do our rookies.  Now a solid two weeks into their first season-long campaign, some Rooks are on the rise while others may seem to be falling off the charts.

1) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG

Lillard continues to impress in Portland, as the youngster is now averaging a rookie-high 18.4 ppg, a rookie-high 6.6 apg, and a respectable 3.1 rpg.  Regardless of the competition, Lillard has shown up for every game, scoring in double-digits in every contest so far.  The Trail Blazers may be struggling somewhat in the win-loss column, but Lillard is doing everything he can to help this team.
Last week’s rating: 1 (No change)

2) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets, PF

Davis made a strong push for the number 1 spot this week, but still unfortunately can’t match Lillard’s production.  Davis is leading all rookies with 7.0 rpg and an amazing 2.75 bpg (good for fourth in the entire league).  While his FG% might not be as dynamite as some would expect from a big man, he’s still averaging 15.0 ppg and shooting lights-out from the free-throw line as a big (.818%).
Last week’s rating: 2 (No change)

3) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats, SF

MKG makes a nice jump in the standings this week after showing people that his selection as No. 2 was no fluke.  Kidd-Gilchrist exploded for 25 points and 12 rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks in a 101-97 OT win for the Bobcats, and followed that performance with 15 and 8 against the Washington Wizards in a 92-76 victory.  There’s no mystery as to why Charlotte has now won three straight games; MKG is turning out to be a difference maker for the very young team.
Last week’s rating: 6 (+3)

4) Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, C

Valanciunas has continued to impress above the border.  Averaging 8.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 0.6 bpg, Val is continuing to show why the Raptors didn’t mind waiting for him before he came over to the NBA this year.  Dwayne Casey is continuing to salivate at the idea of turning Valanciunas into a defensive force, and it’s only a matter of time until he gets to that next level.
Last week’s rating: 4 (No change)

5) Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, SG

After a hot start to the season, Waiters cools off ever so slightly, but still finds himself contributing greatly to a young Cavs team that has needed his offense.  Waiters is averaging 14.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, and 2.1 apg, and has been very efficient from three-point land (.486%).  His free-throw percentage needs work, though (.588%).
Last week’s rating: 3 (-2)

6) Alexey Shved, Minnesota Timberwolves, PG

Shved makes his first appearance in the rankings after having a strong second week, after scoring in double-digits multiple times and helping the injury-plagued Timberwolves to a 5-3 start.  Shved is averaging 9.0 ppg, 3.9 ppg, and 3.1 rpg, all respectable numbers for someone who isn’t even getting starters minutes.  Shved may struggle as veterans start to figure him out, but he’s turning out to be a great fill-in for Ricky Rubio while Rubio recovers from an ACL injury.
Last week’s rating: N/A

7) Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, SF

Barnes has seen his numbers improve since last week, and his ranking has done the same: 9.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 1.3 apg, while moving up from 10th on last week’s list.  Barnes also recorded his first career double-double last time out in a close 92-88 victory against the Hawks where all of Barnes 19 points and 13 rebounds were needed to secure the win.
Last week’s rating: 10 (+3)

8) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, C

Drummond has continued to play strong off the bench for Detroit, as his averages have jumped to 6.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 1.0 bpg.  Drummond still looks raw on the court, but he has a great mentor in Greg Monroe (see: 2012-2013 triple-double leaders) and seems to enjoy coming off the bench as a spark plug for the Pistons.  Embracing one’s role is the first step to reaching the next level.
Last week’s rating: N/A

9) Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, SG

Beal, like the Wizards, has fallen off in our rankings, but he’s still putting up solid numbers: 11.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, and 1.9 apg.  His field-goal percentage has seemingly hit rock bottom, though, as he’s averaging 16% from the field over his last two games.  Teams are keying in on Beal in John Wall’s absence and it’s showing; Beal can only hope Wall will be back soon.
Last week’s rating: 9 (No change)

10) Jae Crowder, Dallas Mavericks, SF

Crowder, a poor-man’s Ron Artest (minus the head case), has been performing nicely for the Mavs in Shawn Marion’s absence due to injury.  Crowder is averaging 7.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, and 1.3 apg.  Given more opportunities from the field (Crowder’s only attempted 55 shots), Jae’s numbers could easily jump, helping to give the young colt more confidence.
Last week’s rating: 5 (-5)