NBA Power Rankings: Grading Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans and Top 10 Sophomores
As college basketball's finest begin to find their way in the NBA, the league's sophomore class is always a fun one to watch.
As the promising rookies from a year ago get into their comfort zone and find niche's within their respective teams, we begin to see what we all looked forward to as we heard their names called in the draft two years ago.
This year's sophomores are no disappointment.
Here is a look at the 2010-11 top 10 sophomores.
10. Terrence Williams
After being drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the 2009 NBA Draft, Williams is already apart of his second NBA team after a trade with the Houston Rockets on December 15, 2010.
In his first year with the Nets, Williams played in 78 games averaging 8.4 PPG. He had outstanding performances such as his triple-double in a win over the Chicago Bulls with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Since the trade to Houston, Williams has only played in six games so far. The Rockets' staff states that this is because they are reluctant to change their current successful rotation.
These grades are based on the little we have seen from Williams so far in the NBA.
Overall Offense: B- (his ability to drive in the lane is unstoppable, and his pull-up jumpers add to his superior post play to produce a great all around G/F)
Overall Defense: C+ (creating turnovers is one of his best qualities, which again, would improve with more playing time)
There is no doubt that he has just as much potential as any guy on this list. The question is, why aren't the Rockets taking advantage of it?
9. James Harden
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A skilled forward out of Arizona State, Harden was the third overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA Draft.
On a team dominated by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Harden averages 25.7 MPG and 10.3 PPG.
Overall Offense: B- (lacks offensive presence shadowing Durant and Westbrook)
Overall Defense: B+ (agility keeps him close while defending fast guards, however he over-commits to the pump-fake often)
Still a developing player, Harden is a reliable guard who will be seeing his playing time increase throughout the course of the season.
8. Brandon Jennings
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2011 NBA Dunk Competition nominee Brandon Jennings was ready to fly high with the best in this year's All-Star Week, but has to sit out due to foot surgery.
Because of the NBA's minimum age requirement of 19, Jennings became the first American to skip college in order to go play professionally in Europe. After playing one year with Lottomatica Roma in Italy, Jennings was drafted tenth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.
This season Jennings is averaging over 15 PPG and 4.9 APG and leads the team in both categories. Jennings is arguably the most influential player on the team, and is playing like a league veteran.
Overall Offense: A- (one of the more consistent shooters in the sophomore class)
Overall Defense: C+ (simply nothing spectacular to grade on the defensive end)
Jennings makes up for his average defense with effective guard play, consistency, and team chemistry.
7. Wesley Matthews
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Possibly the best sophomore player in the league to not have been drafted, the 6 foot 5 Guard from Marquette is averaging over 16 PPG in his first season with the Trail Blazers.
After receiving a one year deal from the Utah Jazz as a rookie free agent, Mathews was out-bid for by the Portland Trail Blazers who landed his talents with a 5-year $34 Million contract.
Matthews is one of the more versatile players on this list. His ability to shoot from all over the floor, as well as provide a respectable defensive threat is what makes him a valuable asset to the NBA.
Overall Shooting: B+ (Matthews is a big play kind of guy, break-aways and momentum swings are his talents)
Overall Defense: B- (A hit and miss defender, often goes for steals to quick and is consequently out of place)
His shooting accuracy along with speed is his strongest attribute. Turns steals into breakaways and points.
6. Gerald Henderson
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Henderson is beginning to hit his stride with the Charlotte Bobcats after Paul Silas took over for Larry Brown at the head coaching position. Being allowed more playing time, Henderson is displaying his full-court versatility that was not a previous asset to the Bobcats game plan.
On the season, Henderson averages 6.7 PPG but in the past five games he has a total of 64 points.
Overall Offense: B+ (performs amazing plays here and there but has yet to prove consistency)
Overall Defense: B+ (always been the best part of his game, but is still adjusting to the offensive options of the league)
Like the others, Henderson has yet to perfect his NBA game, but Silas is finding ways to get him good experience and use his talents effectively.
5. DeJuan Blair
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Blair was passed over by many NBA teams due to the concerns surrounding his knee, however the San Antonio Spurs got him and he has become a supplemental addition to the team.
Listed at 6 foot 6, Blair has a wingspan of 7 foot 2 which make him dominate off of the boards. With a statistically deceiving record, Blair's influence in San Antonio is going somewhat unnoticed.
Overall Offense: B (extremely effective off of the pick-and-roll and with offensive rebounds)
Overall Defense: B+ (a huge presence inside, matches up well against bigger opponents as well as a shot-blocking threat for the driving PGs)
Again, just a young NBA talent that is still tweaking out the few imperfections of his game.
4. Ty Lawson
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Former North Carolina Tar Heel Ty Lawson has been a strong influence on the Denver Nuggets ever since he entered the league. Sharing playing time with Chauncey Billups, Lawson still averages 10.4 PPG and 3.7 APG in 23.9 minutes per game.
On top of his sheer quickness and agility, Lawson is a shooting threat from both deep and in the lane. As a sophomore, he is already one of the best all-around PGs in the league.
His split-second decision making has been just as effective in the NBA as it was back in his collegiate days when he led the Tar Heels to a National Championship in 2009.
Overall Offense: A- (decision making as a PG is key and Lawson's is phenomenal)
Overall Defense: B+ (speed is undeniable, but at 5 foot 11 his height effects his shot contesting ability)
Lawson came into the league with one of the more NBA-ready abilities, and is now soaking in his professional experience.
3. Demar Derozan
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Starting every game so far this season, Derozan is another underrated NBA sophomore on a currently sub-par team.
Derozan is averaging 15.9 PPG and is second only to C Andrea Bargnani in minutes per game.
Put straight into a lead role for the Toronto Raptors, Derozan has been a quick adjuster while competing against the world's best.
Overall Offense: B- (not bad shooting, but decision making needs some work)
Overall Defense: C+ (for his potential, his defensive showcase has been less than stellar in his early years in the NBA)
Although his grades don't reflect his talent, he is getting valuable experience being the leader on the Toronto. His potential is why he is No. 3 on this list.
2. Tyreke Evans
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Tyreke Evans was the 4th overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 NBA Draft.
Evans has been playing like a veteran player ever since he entered the league, and was the winner of the 2009-2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Averaging over 19 PPG so far in his NBA career, Evans has been an essential asset to the Sacramento Kings, leading them in points, assists, and steals per game.
Overall Offense: A (nothing to criticize about his offensive game, truly a complete player)
Overall Defense: A- (still expecting some slight defensive technique tweaks, such as shot anticipation which will come with time)
The best all around player on this list, just a purely talented basketball machine.
1. Stephen Curry
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As Davidson College's all time leading scorer, Curry earned his limelight by carrying the Wildcats to their first NCAA Tournament win since 1969.
Curry decided to forgo his senior season with the Wildcats in order to become eligible for the 2009 NBA Draft and was chosen seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors.
Coming from a lesser-known collegiate program, there was faint but ever so present talk that Curry would not be able to play alongside the world's best.
Turns out that's all it was. Talk.
Leading the team in assists with six per game and averaging 18 PPG, Curry has become an all-star caliber player.
Overall Offense: A+ (undeniable shooter with the three ball and pull-up jumper, shooting ability on top of his awareness and decision making is unmatchable)
Overall Defense: A- (at 6 foot 3, 185 lbs, Curry does what he can defensively with his size)
Curry is still young, and is in for a long successful carer in the NBA.