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NBA Rookie Report Season Review: Part Two
by: Eric Weiss - Sports Aptitude
May 5, 2006
With the season finally at its conclusion, and the NBA All-Rookie team released, let’s take a look back at the rookie class from this year and see how they faired. The parts written in italics were written before the season began in our Rookie Preview. Below each preseason rookie analysis will be an evaluation of how accurate our assessment was of each player’s role and anticipated success. At the end of the review we’ll do a tally to see how close we were in each category to predicting all the players’ respective impacts.

For the sake of analysis, we will take the season totals of every player for the games in which they played 24 minutes or more to get a better sense of what his potential may be. Per 48 minute stats are often skewed by limited playing time, so looking at the games in which a player actually logged significant playing time seems like a more accurate indicator of his ability to impact a game when given the chance. Obviously the less games a player got to play big minutes the less reliable the averages are, but since all of these players have only a single year of experience it should serve as a decent enough indicator for our purposes as it can serve as a baseline for improvement next season.

Part One: First Year/Fast Track

NBA T-Mobile All-Rookie Team

Draft Express Rookie Radar

The rookie class has been broken down into four categories: First Year/Fast Track, Back-Burner/Bench Warmers, [b]Sneaky Sleepers
and Top Secret Big Men. The first group is all players that are expected to contribute rotation minutes this season--roughly 15 minutes and up. In the second group we have some talented players who may not start off with minutes, but who could catch the attention of their team before the year is through. The third group consists of players that may find playing time difficult due to depth chart and personal development issues. The fourth group is simply lesser heralded big men that showed tremendous upside in Summer League or other venues and earned contracts for their efforts. All groups will be well covered this season and their placement on either list can change based of a myriad of circumstances that may vary over the course of this upcoming NBA season. I’ve starred the players I feel will be the ten best overall, though it may take 2 or 3 seasons for some of them to develop.

Sneaky Sleepers:

Jarrett Jack- Familiarity more than anything has Jack on my watch list while Deron Williams remains off. I just really like this kid’s demeanor and court sense. He has the strength and tenacity to play the 1 or 2 and has shown continual improvement in all facets of the game. Good overall ability shooting, passing, or driving for the finish. He’s a bit quicker than Williams which I think gives him an edge on defense. Still, the acquisition of Steve Blake and Juan Dixon is a little confusing considering that this team is in the midst of a full youth movement. While neither of those two are old it’s strange that the Blazers would trade for Jack and then sign two players who play his position. I still think Jack will find his way onto the court eventually and he could serve as excellent trade bait for a team in need of a young point guard with excellent upside.

Final Analysis- 28 games over 24mpg: 9.8ppg 2.9rpg 4.8apg, .442fg% .800ft
Jack hit the mark for our team and his with solid and constantly improving play throughout the year. The logjam that Portland created for itself with strange off-season acquisitions somewhat convoluted Jack’s production as a true point guard. Jack got a ton of run next to Telfair and Dixon which served to depress his assist numbers some. But, Jack battled and fought throughout a difficult season in Portland and really increased his efficiency and production across the board. Portland will still have to figure out which player between Telfair and Jack it wants to keep as a starter because both these players are deserving of that role. Preseason Analysis: accurate

*Nate Robinson- Although Larry Brown has a penchant for not playing rookies I can’t imagine a scenario where this kid doesn’t get into the rotation. Robinson has pure point guard skills that are comparable to any guard drafted this year. Robinson’s role is uncertain, but I can see him getting into the guard rotation as long as he can impress Brown with his understanding of the system. Robinson will be a star point guard in this league before too long and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks look to shop one of their backcourt players in order to open up some time for the youngster. Size be damned, Nate is strong and fast with excellent body control and superior instincts. Robinson is also extremely coachable and should be a “Brown guy” by season’s end.

Final Analysis- 29 games over 24mpg: 14.1ppg 3.4rpg 2.9apg, .397 3pt
Nate was a mixed bag for sure this season. While his electric style and a blazing speed made him the darling of New York very early in the year, his penchant for the limelight may have went to his head at times. Make no mistake, Nate is a great kid and should be able to regain his composure under the steady influence of Larry Brown. But, the Knicks have a ton of spare parts to sort through before they settle on a roster that Brown can work with, so continuity will be at a premium. Robinson has tremendous passing skills, but shelved them for most of the season and focused more on scoring the ball while Brown and Marbury dueled for total domination of the universe. But Nate gained Larry’s trust, and while he may not have “played the right way” all the time he certainly was a Brown guy. Preseason Analysis: accurate

Channing Frye- While Frye will make a serviceable F/C I don’t think he’ll be able to live up to his high draft position. I don’t buy the “soft” label as Frye was plenty active in the Summer League games and didn’t show much hesitance. What Frye lacks is definition to his game. He’s got good overall skills, but doesn’t do any one thing great. Still, he’s a mature player and he’ll help New York’s frontcourt this season as long as he doesn’t let the pressure of the big city effect his mental approach. Should do well replacing Kurt Thomas’ role as mid range shooter and rebounder. Frye’s tendency is to rush things a bit, so he’ll have to show composure to get time on the court. But, he’s smart and has physical tools to do things no one on the Knicks can do so he has a chance to impress Larry Brown if he listens.

Final Analysis- 33 games over 24mpg: 16.4ppg 7rpg, .477fg% .825%ft
Frye was able to adapt very quickly to Larry Brown’s coaching style and became a quick beneficiary of his coach’s impatience with the lackadaisical play of the Knick veterans.The dysfunction in New York allowed Frye to get the type of playing time needed to satisfy the city’s fan base. Frye’s aggressive tendencies during the summer league really paid dividends for him as he transitioned seamlessly into Kurt Thomas’ role of mid-range assassin. Frye certainly showed toughness on the glass and showed that “finesse” doesn’t equal “soft” by any stretch of the imagination. Frye still has to work on his interior game, but his instinctive ability to crash the offensive glass and make smart cuts to the hoop enable him to score a solid amount of points in the paint. As Frye works on his ball handling, he should be able to use the threat of his shot to set up many drives into the lane where his excellent free throw shooting will make him a great offensive weapon.
Preseason Analysis: accurate

Eddie Basden- Eddie Basden might have the best motor of any player in the rookie class. If half of these guys played with Basden’s tenacity they’d be all stars in the making. As it is, Chicago got themselves a steal, one of my personal favorites. Basden can play the point or either of the swing positions defensively. His presence will really push Ben Gordon’s game to another level and if Eddie works on his shot mechanics he’ll turn himself into quite a nice player. Basden is much further along at this stage in his career than Bruce Bowen was and if he keeps working he’ll be a better player overall. Eddie’s strong, quick, has good handles, reads the court well, and never stops moving. Chicago fan favorite by mid season and a total Skiles guy.

D-League Statistics: 10.5pts 4.5rbs 2.9asts
Basden stayed with the big club almost the entire year, until the Bulls extreme need for size and Basden’s need for playing time forced the Bulls to send him down to the farm club. While the Bulls triple point guard rotation limited Basden’s court appearances, it was quite telling that Skiles kept Basden on the roster-and in practice-virtually the entire season. When the Bulls were really in a funk, Basden served as an excellent example of all the characteristics coach Skiles wanted to see in his other players and got him some decent playing time because of it. It will take fans outside Chicago a bit longer to see what Basden can do as a multi-positional defensive stopper, but they had to wait for Bruce Bowen and Radja Bell too. With the Bulls likely to trade one of their guards in the offseason, expect to see more of Eddie next year.
Preseason Analysis: accurate

*Danny Granger- The only thing keeping Granger from being a real contributor for Indiana this season would be injuries. If Granger is healthy he’ll play 3 positions on the court and can fill up the box score ala Andre Kirilenko. The Pacers are deep, but Granger’s versatility and maturity should help him supplant Bender and Fred Jones early in the season. Until he proves it on the court, both physically and mentally, he’ll remain a competitive sleeper pushing the vets in front of him.

Final Analysis- 35 games over 24mpg: 11.9ppg 8rpg, .462fg% .777%ft
Needless to say, Granger didn’t get injured and whatever head injury Ron Artest suffered enabled Granger to jump straight into the rotation. Granger was steady to spectacular in all facets of the game: midrange, 3 ball, rebounding, Blocks, steals, you name it. Granger logged a bunch of time at the three until Jermaine O’neal went down, then he was bumped to power forward where his rebounding and ball handling really helped him to score inside and out. Indiana most likely sees Granger as a small forward in the mold of Rashard Lewis, a complete defensive nightmare for most teams.
Preseason Analysis: accurate

Charlie Bell- Bell makes my list because of the unbelievable year he had in Europe where he averaged nearly 30 points per game. Charlie is very small for a 2 guard, but could play the role of 6th man for the Bucks, much like Earl Boykins does for Denver. I can’t imagine the Bucks signing Bell if he wasn’t going to have a role on this team. Plus athleticism and a knack for going on hot streaks should help Bell find time in the rotation. That being said, the Bucks are very crowded at both the 1 and the 2 so it will be up to the newcomer to force his coaches hand.

Final Analysis- 21 games over 24mpg: 13.7ppg 1.4stls, .439fg% .423 3pt%
Charlie hustled his way into a prominent role off the bench for the Bucks after sitting early in the season. Bell’s explosive scoring, excellent 3 point shooting, and feisty defense made him a fan favorite in Milwaukee. If Mo Williams hadn’t gotten hurt early in the year Bell may not have gotten the chance to string together some consistent playing time. Nonetheless, the Bucks are going to have to make a choice in keeping 2 of the three guards, because each has the skills to help a team more than they got the chance to do together. Preseason Analysis: accurate

Salim Stoudamire- Stoudamire is a 2 in the body of a 1 until he proves otherwise. Being Damon’s little brother doesn’t qualify as being a point guard. Still, Stoudamire is an unbelievable shooter, he reminds me a lot of Dan Dickau coming out of school. If Salim works on his game he could really help a team as a kick out option. Stoudamire could play point along side of Joe Johnson and provide an excellent kick out option. The Hawks could go a number of ways with Salim, as both Tyronn Lue and Tony Delk are veteran options at the point. If the Hawks go young he’ll get time.

Final Analysis- 22 games over 24mpg: 13.9ppg 1.9apg, .380 3-pt% .900%ft
He’s a shooter-that was no surprise. But, Stoudamire did little else to improve his overall game and didn’t take the criticism well. Coach Woodson wants Salim to have better shot selection and make a sustained effort to play defense. Stoudamire has the ability to do more than shoot crazily until catching fire, but he must show the desire to do this if he wants to find a role in a winning organization. Coachability is the key with Stoudamire, regardless if he’s not a point guard. Preseason Analysis: accurate


Linas Klieza- Watching this kid in Summer League made me a believer. Klieza has the size and athleticism to play both the 3 and the 4 for the Nuggets. His shot is smooth and fundamentally sound and he can shoot it off the dribble well. Klieza will get rebounds across the lane and moves well around the court to make things happen. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if Klieza shifts Anthony to the 2 eventually. For this season Klieza will have to work hard in practice and give coach Karl a reason to give him some run. But, the Nuggets have a lot of unproven talent at the 2 so if any of the starters go down there’s a chance the deck could be shuffled to allow Klieza a hand in the game.

Final Analysis- 5 games over 24mpg: 12.2ppg 4.8rpg, .445fg% .704ft%
Klieza’s playing time was limited this season, but during Denver’s mid-year slump, coach Karl went to Klieza to make an example for others on the team giving less than 100% effort. Klieza’s role should increase next season with the exhile of malcontent Kenyon Martin, which allows klieza to get some PT in the frontcourt as well. Klieza has pure form on his jumper and if he can develop a consistent 3 point shot he can become a vital asset to the Nuggets, whom can’t buy an outside shot to save their playoff lives.
Preseason Analysis: accurate

*Andray Blatche- The closest comparison I can make with him is Nowitzki. Blatche likes to face up from the wing or high post and attack. He’s got a pull up jumper, he’s got range out to 3 point land and he can handle with either hand. Blatche doesn’t have one go-to move or favor one side of the court so his future looks bright. Andray must add some strength to his frame, but I think he can challenge Jeffries for playing time right away. The kid is RAW, but just an incredible talent at his size and skill level. With the injury in the off-season and the depth at his projected positions I think Blatche will be starring in the developmental league to start off. But, once he gets his confidence up down there he’ll be pressing hard to get called up to the big club.


D-League Statistics: 11.2pts 6.8rbs 1.33stls 1.55blks, .510fg% .842ft%
Well, about the only thing this teenager didn’t accomplish was earn himself enough recognition with his D-League play to get a decent shot a playing time for the Wiz. Blatche is such a blend of size and skill, only his own dedication to improvement can stop him from being a tremendous all around player, unless he gets shot again. While he wasn’t able to crack the rotation this season, it shouldn’t be long before he is a fixture in it. There is going to be some roster shakeup in Washington this off-season, so a good, hard summer working on his game should pay dividends for this young man going into next season.
Preseason Analysis: mixed


Final Analysis

The sleeper picks were quite an intriguing bunch to watch this season. Out of the 9 players tabbed as sleepers, 6 found themselves significant roles for their teams this season and 2 more look to take prominent positions in their team’s rotation next year. The one remaining player, Eddie Basden, has a tremendous motor and could easily find himself playing a role himself next year, though he probably has the most development to do.

Danny Granger was perhaps the most significant contributor of this group, with Channing Frye being a close second. Both Granger and Frye showed the ability to be impact players for the future of their franchises and Jack, Robinson, and Bell all have the promise to be more impressive than they already were.

Overall, this group has a ton of potential and exceeded the modest expectations that found them in this spot to begin with. Each of these players has shown enough to believe that they all will be productive NBA players and the 2005 draft continues to show itself to be one of the deepest in history.
 
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Feedback for this article may be sent to eric.weiss@gmail.com .

 

Deron Williams
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 202 lbs.
Birthday: 06/26/1984
30 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Colony
Previous Team: Illinois , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #3 in 2005 Draft
by the Jazz
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
14.3 Pts, 2.6 Rebs, 6.1 Asts


Steve Blake
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 172 lbs.
Birthday: 02/26/1980
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Oak Hill Academy
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #9 in 2003 Draft
by the Wizards
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: PG,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
9.5 Pts, 3.8 Rebs, 7.6 Asts


Juan Dixon
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 164 lbs.
Birthday: 10/09/1978
35 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Calvert Hall
Previous Team: Maryland , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #17 in 2002 Draft
by the Wizards
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
8.4 Pts, 2.1 Rebs, 1.9 Asts


Nate Robinson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 181 lbs.
Birthday: 06/01/1984
30 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Rainier Beach
Previous Team: Washington , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #21 in 2005 Draft
by the Suns
Positions:
Current: PG/SG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
10.4 Pts, 1.8 Rebs, 2.5 Asts


Larry Brown
Full Profile
Physicals
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 160 lbs.
Birthday: 09/14/1940
73 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Long Beach
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 7, Pick #2 in 1963 Draft
by the Bullets
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: G,
Possible: G


Kurt Thomas
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 221 lbs.
Birthday: 10/04/1972
41 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Hillcrest
Previous Team: TCU , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #10 in 1995 Draft
by the Heat
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
2.8 Pts, 3.8 Rebs, 0.2 Asts


Ben Gordon
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 192 lbs.
Birthday: 04/04/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Mount Vernon
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #3 in 2004 Draft
by the Bulls
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: SG,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
5.2 Pts, 1.4 Rebs, 1.1 Asts


Bruce Bowen
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Birthday: 06/14/1971
43 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Edison
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: F,
NBA: SF,
Possible: F
Quick Stats:
2.7 Pts, 1.8 Rebs, 0.5 Asts


Fred Jones
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 218 lbs.
Birthday: 03/11/1979
35 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Barlow
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #14 in 2002 Draft
by the Pacers
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
15.0 Pts, 2.0 Rebs, 2.0 Asts


Ron Artest
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 244 lbs.
Birthday: 11/13/1979
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School: LaSalle Academy
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #16 in 1999 Draft
by the Bulls
Positions:
Current: SF,
NBA: SF,
Possible: SF
Quick Stats:
4.8 Pts, 2.0 Rebs, 0.6 Asts


Rashard Lewis
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Birthday: 08/08/1979
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Alief Elsik
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #3 in 1998 Draft
by the Supersonics
Positions:
Current: F,
NBA: SF/PF,
Possible: F
Quick Stats:
4.5 Pts, 1.8 Rebs, 1.0 Asts


Earl Boykins
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 5' 5"
Weight: 135 lbs.
Birthday: 06/02/1976
38 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Cleveland Central Catholic
Previous Team: Virtus Bologna , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
4.9 Pts, 1.4 Rebs, 2.1 Asts


Dan Dickau
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Birthday: 09/16/1978
35 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Prairie
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #28 in 2002 Draft
by the Kings
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: G,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
2.8 Pts, 1.0 Rebs, 1.4 Asts


Joe Johnson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 226 lbs.
Birthday: 07/29/1981
32 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Little Rock Central
Previous Team: Arkansas , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #10 in 2001 Draft
by the Celtics
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: PG/SG,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
15.8 Pts, 3.4 Rebs, 2.7 Asts


Tyronn Lue
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 175 lbs.
Birthday: 05/03/1977
37 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Raytown
Previous Team: Nebraska , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #23 in 1998 Draft
by the Nuggets
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: G,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
4.7 Pts, 1.2 Rebs, 1.5 Asts


Tony Delk
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 189 lbs.
Birthday: 01/28/1974
40 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Haywood
Previous Team: Kentucky , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #16 in 1996 Draft
by the Hornets
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: G,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
7.5 Pts, 1.9 Rebs, 1.0 Asts


Kenyon Martin
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Birthday: 12/30/1977
36 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Bryan Adams
Previous Team: Cincinnati , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #1 in 2000 Draft
by the Nets
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
4.3 Pts, 4.2 Rebs, 1.6 Asts


Eddie Basden
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 210 lbs.
Birthday: 02/16/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Eleanor Roosevelt
Previous Team: Charlotte , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SG/SF,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG/SF
Quick Stats:
7.2 Pts, 2.6 Rebs, 1.6 Asts


Danny Granger
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 225 lbs.
Birthday: 04/11/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Grace King
Previous Team: New Mexico , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #17 in 2005 Draft
by the Pacers
Positions:
Current: SF,
NBA: SF,
Possible: SF/PF
Quick Stats:
8.3 Pts, 3.6 Rebs, 1.1 Asts


Channing Frye
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 244 lbs.
Birthday: 05/17/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: St. Mary
Previous Team: Arizona , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #8 in 2005 Draft
by the Knicks
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: PF/C,
Possible: PF/C
Quick Stats:
11.1 Pts, 5.1 Rebs, 1.2 Asts


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