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NBA Rookie Watch (Dec. 3rd): Top 10 Performers

Kevin Roberts@BreakingKevinSenior Writer IDecember 3, 2009

MILWAUKEE - NOVEMBER 16: Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwuakee Bucks waits for a free-throw against the Dallas Mavericks at the Bradley Center on November 16, 2009 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Mavericks defeated the Bucks 115-113 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We're not even two full months into the 2009-10 NBA season, but what's sports coverage without over-analyzing every step that young players take?

The beautiful thing about covering the NBA Draft and watching the games as the season progresses, is getting to see which top picks quickly begin to live up to (and sometimes surpass) their projected potential, and which one's never get off the ground.

Read on for the debut of our Top Ten NBA Rookie Watch:


1. Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

Season Stats: 34.4 MPG, 21.5 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 47.6 3PT%, 42.2 FG%

Jennings earns the top spot for our debut rookie ranking article, simply because he carries the offensive load more than any other rookie, and does more with the ball in his hands.

He's shooting lights out from behind the arc, something scouts never thought he'd be able to do, while focusing more on the "team game," getting his teammates involved, and not playing selfishly.

He's also leading all rookies in points per game, while keeping his Milwaukee Bucks above .500. At least for this week, he's the top rookie in 2009-10.

2. Tyreke Evans, PG, Sacramento Kings

Season Stats: 35.5 MPG, 19.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 30.3 3PT%, 44.9 FG%

Evans could just as easily be the top guy in these rankings, but we'd like to see more consistency out of his shooting before we put him over Brandon Jennings, who is killing Evans in three-point percentage.

Evans has all the talent and potential in the world to get where he needs to be, and is arguably already extremely close to getting there. This figures to be a very heated battle for ROY honors all the way to the bitter end.

3. Jonny Flynn, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

Season Stats: 29.1 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 29.2 3PT%, 43.5 FG%

Flynn has stepped into the starting role in his first year and has embraced the ability to run the floor in total control, while showing, at times, an ability to score at will.

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He's been remarkably consistent overall, failing to reach double digits in scoring just twice all season.

4. Darren Collison, PG, New Orleans Hornets

Season Stats: 22.5 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.3 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 37.5 3PT%, 42.4 FG%

Collison has performed very well as he's taken over for the injured Chris Paul, and despite the team's struggles, he has done a lot on the court that suggests he has a bright future.

Collison exhibited his clutch ability by hitting a game-tying shot against the Milwaukee Bucks last week, and has continued to be a consistent source of points, reaching double figures in 10 straight games, while also improving as a passer and notching five or more assists in his last seven.

5. Omri Casspi, SG/SF, Sacramento Kings

Season Stats: 23.4 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 1.2 APG, 3.7 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 47.2 3PT%, 52.5 FG%

While everyone is talking about his teammate, point guard sensation Tyreke Evans, we'd be foolish to forget about Casspi, who has brought excellent overall percentages and a strong work ethic to a young Kings' team that is quickly improving.

Casspi is already proving he was worth a first round pick, and has topped 10 points in five straight games.

6. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors

Season Stats: 30.4 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 38.8 3PT%, 42.6 FG%

For the amount of minutes Curry is getting and the fast-paced offense the Warriors run, it's amazing that his numbers aren't better.

His percentages are solid, though, and a lot of his struggles just have to do with discovering his role at this level, and learning the game.

The nice thing about Curry so far in his first season, is that despite his offensive game not coming to him as it naturally does, he still makes an impact by playing solid defense and racking up steals.

7. Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets

Season Stats: 21.1 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.1 RPG, 50.0 3PT%, 52.6 FG%

Lawson has been very efficient and focused when he gets on the court, and has benefited from having a great point guard (Chauncey Billups) to learn from.

He's exhibited the same strong fundamentals and shooting percentages that he did at North Carolina, and should only continue to rise up the rookie rankings as the season goes on.

8. Marcus Thornton, SG, New Orleans Hornets

Season Stats: 19.5 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 0.9 APG, 1.7 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 34.6 3PT%, 42.9 FG%

Thornton was an excellent, athletic scoring guard in college, and with the Hornets' main source of points ailing (Chris Paul), Thornton has stepped up and done a fine job helping out in that department.

9. Chase Budinger, SF, Houston Rockets

Season Stats: 19.3 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 1.2 APG, 3.3 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 34.9 3PT%, 41.0 FG%

Budinger's stats don't jump out of the box score, but, knowing the way he plays the game, it'd be unfair to simply looking at the numbers.

Budinger offers excellent effort and athleticism on both ends of the floor, and has quickly established himself as an offensive threat when he's in the game.

He's already learned when to take shots and when to look for teammates, and just needs his shots to fall a little more often to earn more minutes.

10. Terrence Williams, SG/SF, New Jersey Nets

Season Stats: 26.4 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 2.2 APG, 5.1 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 29.8 3PT%, 35.9 FG%

While the Nets have yet to win a game, and now hold the NBA record for the worst start in league history (0-18), at least they have some nice, young pieces to build towards a brighter future.

Williams is a very versatile scorer and once his shooting becomes more consistent, he could be a dangerous player.

Honorable Mentions: DeJuan Blaire (San Antonio Spurs), Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls) Eric Maynor (Utah Jazz)

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