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