NBA Draft Report Card: Top 10 Candidates for the 2011 Rookie of the Year
After four-plus hours, 60 selections, and seemingly thousands of trades, the 2010 NBA Draft has finally concluded.
In some ways, it was very predictable. No big names were traded, the teams you expected to make moves in order to clear cap space (Chicago, Miami) did so, and the top five (Wall, Turner, Favors, Johnson, Cousins) went as expected in order.
But it also had its unstable moments. There was so much movement in the first round that I had to take a step back and figure out who was going where. When the Thunder took Quincy Pondexter, I was excited to see him play behind Kevin Durant...until I realized that pick was going to New Orleans.
Now comes the best part of draft night—predicting the stars, busts, and everything in between.
Few people predicted that Tyreke Evans would be Rookie of the Year last year, nor did anyone predict the influence of guys like DeJuan Blair or Marcus Thornton. The top rookies don't necessarily come from the first 10 picks.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the guys who have a chance to make a real impact with their teams next year, and in turn, are most likely to bring home the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
10. Avery Bradley
When Bradley was selected by the Celtics, it pretty much assured that Nate Robinson won't be reprising his role as energy guy off the bench for Boston next season.
And if Ray Allen doesn't return in free agency, Bradley could be thrust into a starting role.
Boston needed a spark to play behind Rajon Rondo and they got one. Bradley is an effective scorer who can pull up off the dribble and hit jumpers, or just knock down open shots from the perimeter. And playing with Rondo, he'll get his fair share of looks.
The Celtics had him targeted at No. 19 the entire time...and got him. He'll get good minutes on an aging team and could put up sufficient enough numbers that get him noticed nationally.
9. Derrick Favors
Much like Favors, the No. 9 pick on this list has the potential to go up...depending on what else New Jersey does in the offseason.
I like Favors' upside, but he's not going to be a great contributor right away—it's going to take time for him to develop.
Jay Bilas said he needed to work on his post moves, face-up game, and mid-range jump shot. So that's basically all of his offensive repertoire. He's not going to come in and demand the ball, command a double-team, and dominate the glass (he wasn't his team's leading rebounder last year).
And if the Nets wind up with another power forward, he could get lost in the shuffle a little bit.
I'm not saying this was a bad pick for New Jersey. But in terms of immediate impact, Favors doesn't have a great chance for ROTY.
8. Wesley Johnson
Why so low for the No. 4 pick in this year's draft?
Simple: Minnesota is basically a direction-less franchise. It made so many moves Thursday night, I don't even know who it actually wound up with (I believe it was Johnson, Lazar Hayward, Nemanja Bjelica, and Martell Webster).
What that means is it'll be bad next year...again. And being a role player on a 25-win team isn't typically what voters are looking for.
The Webster acquisition could wind up stealing some minutes from Johnson. They both play the same position and pretty much contribute the same things: three-point shooting and defense.
Since Webster is a little more proven, he might get 20-25 minutes a night to Johnson's 25-30.
I like Johnson's value, but I don't think he's all that great of a fit in Minnesota. The team will struggle, and unless he puts up ridiculous numbers, it won't help his ROTY chances for 2011.
7. Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe gets some love on the list because, well, a lot of times the Rookie of the Year is a good player on a bad team.
Look at Kevin Durant in '08.
Chris Paul in '06.
LeBron James in '03.
Granted, those are three elite players in the league today, and Monroe has a long way to go to join their ranks.
But Detroit's current power forwards and centers under contract next year are Chris Wilcox, Charlie Villanueva, and Jason Maxiell. Monroe will get plenty of playing time for the Pistons, who will most likely struggle next year as well.
He's the best passing big man in the draft; he's able to pop out to the high post and make the right pass. He's also got a strong face-up game, and can attack less-mobile defenders off the dribble.
It'll be interesting to see if Detroit uses him in lineups where he's featured at power forward or center. Either way, if he's in Detroit next year, he'll get plenty of playing time and touches. That usually translates into decent numbers, and ROTY consideration.
6. Jordan Crawford
Definitely the biggest stretch so far on the list, but hear me out.
If Joe Johnson isn't back next year, it's likely that Crawford will find himself in a starting role (unless the Hawks want to throw Maurice Evans out there). Atlanta will be desperate for scorers and most likely move Jamal Crawford to the starting lineup.
And if there's any player that's capable of matching Brandon Jennings' 55-point explosion last year, it's Crawford. He's an elite scorer, a jump shooter with extraordinary range, and is explosive when attacking the rim.
He'll be counted on to score. Because of that, it's likely you'll hear his name on SportsCenter a lot, which only enhances his chances of getting national pub and garnering some serious attention across the league.
5. DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins is one of the biggest mysteries in this draft: he could be a 20-10 guy for 10 years, or he could be out of the league in four years, and either way I wouldn't be surprised at all.
Playing in Sacto's up-tempo system with Tyreke Evans at the point and a few potent shooters on the wing, he'll be able to get some easy buckets inside.
Add in the fact that he should become one of the rebounders the Kings have to offer, and he could become a real inside presence next year. It'd be easy for him to average a double-double.
If he does that, and keeps his head on straight, he absolutely has the talent to be the premier newcomer in the league.
4. Cole Aldrich
Easily another stretch. Whenever your NBA comparison is Joel Pryzbilla, you don't really associate that guy with Rookie of the Year.
But I think Aldrich will be put in one of the best situations of any rookie in this year's class. He's going to the most exciting, up-and-coming team in the league.
All they'll ask of him is to rebound, play tough defense inside, block some shots, and do a lot of the dirty work inside—coincidentally, those are all strengths of Aldrich.
So let's say he comes in and averages something like 12 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks a game (not incomprehensible by any means), and his impact leads OKC to something like 55-57 wins and a top-three seed in the Western Conference.
Will he get a lot of consideration for ROTY? Probably not.
But should he? Absolutely. Statistics are overvalued in basketball, and changing the interior presence for one of the best teams in the West should get him some real consideration. It all depends on the success of the Thunder, however.
3. Blake Griffin
I completely forgot about last year's No. 1 pick until reader Joey Colombi pointed it out...so many thanks to you, Joey!
Blake is poised for a breakout year in 2011. He's coming back from injury and I haven't heard very many lofty expectations for him.
I wouldn't expect him to have a Greg Oden-like career. He doesn't have a lot of injury history and he is supposedly is back, working out at 100 percent.
Playing with Chris Kaman, it's not like teams can hone in on him either. He'll have the opportunity to play in the post, roam the boards, get out in transition, and have some highlight reel finishes.
Expect a big bounce-back year from last year's top selection. And he is technically available for this award...so if he puts up 15-10 a night, Rookie of the Year honors are certainly in the realm of possibility.
2. Evan Turner
I'm an Evan Turner homer, so of course I'll have him high up on this list. But a player that dominated statistically like he did in college will assuredly have success in the NBA.
He can fill up the stat sheet, and like it or not, that's one thing that voters look for when filling out their ballots. If Tyreke Evans averaged 18-4-4 instead of 20-5-5 last year, I bet that the vote would have been a lot closer between him, Stephen Curry, and Brandon Jennings.
Turner's too much of a competitor and too much of a talent to have an off-year. He'll be right in the thick of it with the No. 1 guy...
1. John Wall
Pretty easy choice here.
Anybody that's selected No. 1 will have the inside track to the award: they have all the publicity, all the expectations, and if they perform admirably, they'll most likely get recognition for it.
Wall's the class of the draft this year. A solid year from him (something like 15-8-5 will suffice) and the Rookie of the Year is as good as his.