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Saturday Starting Five: Your Preseason Rookie Report

Oct 16, 2010, 11:30 AM EST

griffcli

Hey, so, you’re stuck with me on the weekends, so I thought we’d put together something you can count on. Every weekend here at PBT we’ll have the Saturday Starting Five. Five elements, chosen thematically (so I’m not just basically vomiting words onto a screen for you) and brought for discussion about the NBA. Today’s topic? How are the rookies faring in the preseason?

The Wall is Already Great

We knew John Wall would be a revelation. But some thought there might be a learning curve. Wrong. Wall has shown the ability to make the highlight reel on a nightly basis. But more importantly, he’s averaging 8.4 assists. There was some talk before the games started being played that Wall wouldn’t be able to create many assists with as many high-usage guys as the Wizards have. But Wall has taken control of the offense and has shown that playmaking ability, and on both sides of the ball with 2.2 steals per game. He’s shooting 40%, which pretty much everyone expected and he’ll have to improve. And as always, it is the preseason. But early on, Wall looks like a leader who’s able to deliver. Already.

Cousins is Family Already

Per-48 minutes, DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 31 points and 18 rebounds. Those are numbers to make you pass out. Per-game, those numbers drop all the way down to 16.4 and 9.6. Which is still incredible for a rookie, even in preseason. The best thing about drafting Cousins versus the other bigs that went before him (who should not have gone before him) is that Cousins is ready to play, now. His natural ability at rebounding and size makes him a guy who can simply deliver, right off the bat. And that’s what he’s doing in Sactown. Cousins is going to be a surprise Rookie of the Year candidate if the early results are any indication.

So Far So Griffin

Blake Griffin has looked fantastic coming back from a broken patella. I mean, he’s not a top five power forward in the league right now, but who would actually say that? Griffin’s best asset right now has been his explosiveness to the rim. He’s able to get the ball in traffic and finish, which is a struggle for a lot of “rookies.” He’s averaging 29 and 20 per 48, and he’s shown an absolute fearlessness in putting his body on the line for a play. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, and Griffin needs to chill out a bit so he makes it through the entire season. That said, from top to bottom, Griffin looks like everything he was made out to be before the injury.

Wes is the Wolves’ Wild Guy on the Outside

Wes Johnson isn’t going to light things up this season, but he could wind up as a fine perimeter player. Johnson is shooting 53% from the arc, which is kind of ridiculous on 8 of 15 shooting. Johnson’s defense hasn’t been bad either, and he’s been part of the Wolves’ preseason success. Johnson wasn’t the best player available, but for a team that needed a shooter immediately, he looks like he might be able to fit in off the bat, and that will make the Wolves a better team.

The New Jersey Whoops

Derrick Favors is 6 of 27. That’s 22%. Which is, you know, horrible. Defensively, it’s not much better. He’s allowed a 50% field goal percentage defensively. He looks lost, he’s unable to finish, and all of his athletic talents are really helping him because he can’t coordinate them at the pro level. Favors is a project. The Nets knew that when they drafted him. So this is nothing for them to freak out about. But the level to which he’s struggled is a concern and that’s going to hurt his ability to get floor time, which is the only thing that will help him develop as a project. It’s a catch-22 and one that Favors may be stuck in for a while, unless this is just a preseason slump.

  1. zblott - Oct 16, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    Here’s a look at how 9 of the top rookies have done through their first couple games:

    http://www.hoopskarma.com/hk/2010/10/11/early-preseason-look-at-9-top-rookies.html

  2. jstrizzle - Oct 16, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    Quick comment about Wes Johnson. He has been told to hold back on drives to the lane and such because of slight hamstring issue. I think it might be too soon to pigeonhold him into a perimeter role at this point.

  3. zackd22 - Oct 16, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    You mention a 27 shot sample size for Favors? Really?
    Why not mention Wall’s 10% from 3? Or 3.60 TO a game?

  4. thestudiokida - Oct 17, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Matt, is that a shot at Kurt Helin? I believe he said Blake Griffin is indeed a top 5 power forward. So did Bill Simmons. I don’t believe it, myself. Nothing is as it seems with the Clippers.

  5. zackd22 - Oct 17, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    Calling Griffin anything besidese a “Top 5 Rookie” before he plays a minute of a real NBA game is ridiculous.

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