Thursday , Nov , 29 , 2007 Christopher Sells

Chris’ NBA Rookie Evaluations

With Greg Oden out for the season, most people’s interest in this year’s rookie class begins and ends with Kevin Durant. Durant is hands down the most talented of the remaining players and is in the perfect situation to put up numbers that will garner fans’ interest. With Durant/Oden shoved down the throats of the public for virtually the entire spring and summer, it’s expected that you probably haven’t even given thought to the other players who donned NBA uniforms this fall for the first time. What follows is a rundown of the top players picked in the draft, along with some names that you should get familiar with before you see them getting sonned by the Sophomores in New Orleans during All-Star Weekend.

You’ll also find a few guys who haven’t performed up to expectations. Sadly, with the draft based on potential these days instead of actual talent, the bottom half of the lottery has not produced a player worth giving attention. Interesting how many of the players listed are older than typical rookies. Not that I’m trying to make a case for an age limit, I’m just saying.

Greg Oden, Portland TrailBlazers

As has been mentioned, Oden’s rookie season is done before it even started. He had surgery on his knee and will have to be a spectator for this entire year. Despite Oden not having played in a single game, he leads all rookies in fouls committed. Seriously though, if Oden comes back and is what everyone predicts him to be, the Blazers will be a team that might make the playoffs. Next year.

Kevin Durant, Seattle SuperSonics

Durant is scoring points and shooting a very low percentage on a team that isn’t very good. He’s also getting muscled around a bit. This is exactly what was expected of him. You should also expect him to win Rookie of the Year, barring any unforeseen circumstances. There is no substance to the rumor that he will receive 150 pounds of meat and potatoes and a free membership to Gold’s Gym instead of trophy when that happens.

Jeff Green, Seattle SuperSonics

Green is scoring points, rebounding, and shooting a respectable percentage on a losing team. He also plays the same position as Durant. Without questioning why Seattle would orchestrate such a trade, I will say that Green will probably do better later in the season when no one cares whether the team is being competitive anymore.

Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks

Never mind that the Hawks have spent draft picks and money on guys with a similar skill set to Horford. What you should take note of is that the Hawks suck less than usual and that Horford would be averaging a double-double if he could find a way to hit one more free throw per game. I’d suggest practice, but I’m clearly not on Atlanta’s coaching staff.

Mike Conley, Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

Conley is out indefinitely with a shoulder strain. The Grizzlies don’t miss him. He’s been solid when he’s been on the court, at least for a rookie point guard, but he’s only seen action in five games and he’s fourth on the depth chart. He’s not even the best rookie guard on the team. That distinction goes to…

Juan Carlos Navarro, Memphis Grizzlies

In all fairness, he was drafted in 2002 and is not your typical rookie. He’s 27 and has experience playing overseas. That being said, he’s still playing with a lot of confidence and he is shooting the lights out. No doubt the Wizards are kicking themselves for trading him this offseason, as he would definitely be doing a better job playing point than Nick Young has been.

Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee Bucks

This is the second time I’ve mentioned Yi in a story. This is about four more times than I ever expected to. His shooting percentage is a little lower than it should be, but he’s playing very well in what many thought would be an impossible situation. If I were his coach, I’d make sure that I hit him with a "Do it for your country!" line whenever he wasn’t playing well.

Jamario Moon, Toronto Raptors

Who? Until I saw him on SportsCenter a couple of times, I had no idea who Moon was. Turns out he’s a 27-year-old forward who has played well enough to be inserted in Toronto’s starting lineup to do a little bit of everything. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted.

Sean Williams, New Jersey Nets

Williams may prove to be the person that fills the middle of the doughnut that is the Nets. He leads all rookies in blocks with over two per game and rebounds decently. Playing with Jason Kidd ensures that he’ll score a few points if he runs the floor.

Luis Scola, Houston Rockets

You figure if the Spurs draft an international player that they have to be pretty special. Scola has shown flashes of brilliance. He has also shown flashes of non-brilliance. He does the dirty work for a Rockets team that needs is and could probably benefit from Coach Rick Adelman forcing players not named Yao or McGrady to shoot.

Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Much like his team, Noah hasn’t done anything noteworthy. Well, his coach did basically tell him to shut up when he took his team to task in the papers. Nothing else though.

Acie Law IV, Atlanta Hawks

Law hasn’t played poorly, he just hasn’t played like expected. Sharing time with Tyronn Lue is not a good sign.

Al Thornton, Los Angeles Clippers

Many expected that he would be a sleeper for the ROTY award after his performance in the summer leagues. Nope.

Glen Davis, Boston Celtics

Luckiest rookie ever. Not only does he get to participate in the Celtics’ return to respectability, he gets to learn from Kevin Garnett doing it. He plays sparingly but is decent while on the floor.