With the Cavaliers having two rookies playing prominent minutes, WFNY thought it would beneficial to see how the fresh meat around the league is faring in comparison with the Cavalier rookies. Each week, we’ll have NBA rookie power rankings where we’ll rack and stack the freshman class of the NBA. The rankings will be weighted with the most recent games carrying the most importance, but the whole body of work will be taken into account. Great beards and great celebrations may also play a large factor in rankings.
The end of November is upon us. Halloween and Thanksgiving are distant memories as we turn toward the final month of 2012. Basketball and football overwhelm the televeision schedule in December, giving us plenty to watch while spending time with our families on December’s traditional holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years. This year, we get the treat of another special day in December because on December 21 the world may or may not end. That means we may or may not only have 21 more days of basketball to watch, 21 more days of arguing team vs. team, or player vs. player. There’ll be plenty of time to talk about Armageddon1, but for now we must talk basketball. More specifically, the NBA. Not just the NBA, but its crop of rookies. We’ve seen the surprise rise of Damian Lillard in Portland, and flashes of what’s to come for Anthony Davis in NOLA. We’ve seen Dion Waiters become allergic to passing, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist be exactly who we thought he was. With so many rookies playing large roles for their teams the first month of the season, it’s important we take a step back and see where the NBA’s fresh meat stands after one month of play.
1. Damian Lillard (Last Week: 1)
Lillard continues to lead the way for all rookies. The Blazers’ guard scored 20 points for the tenth time in 15 games Wednesday at Washington, but made headlines for his tweets about traveling to the nation’s capitol. Although Lillard is a fan of Washington, there is one thing he hates. All those damn statues.
I like DC. I wana come back and visit the memorialseven though I’m scared of statues
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) November 28, 2012
Like me, it seemed many of Lillard’s followers had questions regarding this phobia. Have no fear though, Lillard clears up any confusion regarding the phobia.
People I’m only scared of historic statues. Abraham Lincoln , MLK, etc . Had a bad experience at the wax museum lmao
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) November 28, 2012
Now I’m “Terrified” if statues. People take stuff and run with it .
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) November 29, 2012
The rookie leader in points and assists has a sense of humor about his “phobia”, but I think he needs to relish in his quirkiness. Anthony Davis and his unibrow are a tough act to follow, but a fear of statues is a good start for Lillard.
Crash Davis said it best, “If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful.”
Damian, you said you’re afraid of statues. Statues, Damian. The press isn’t going to just run with this story, they’re going to Usain Bolt sprint with it. Average 6 points and 2 assists when you’re afraid of statues and you’re a freak, but average 19 and 6 when you’re afraid of statues and you’re colorful.
Keep it colorful Damain.
2. Dion Waiters (Last Week: 4)
Since Kyrie’s injury, Waiters has shouldered more of the load for the struggling Cavaliers. The green light Waiters had to shoot before Irving got injured is nothing compared to the glowing Emerald City like one shining at the Q after the Irving injury. To Dion’s credit, this increased usage has resulted in more points and more assits for Waiters.
As Cavs fans, we engrained the notion that Dion Waiters is a Dwyane Wade-like player into our brains. While Wade is where the Wine and Gold hope Waiters will get to, currently he looks a little more Jamal Crawford than Dwyane Wade. Yes, it is still very early, and yes Jamal Crawford is a fine player, but Wade is a star and Crawford is an irrationally confident sixth man.
Wade earned the nickname D-Whistle because of all the fouls he allegedly draws. Regardless of whether or not you feel he earned all those trips to the line2, he still got to the line. Wade’s jump to the player he was during his peak was made in his second season when his free throw attempts doubled from 5 to 10 per game along with his assists rising from 4.5 to 6.5. Currently Waiters averages 2.9 free throws a game, and only 2.7 assists. These are two key stats to pay attention to as we watch Dion Waiters evolve.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Last Week: 2)
Kidd-Gilchrist was at his best during the Bobcats five wins in six game stretch earlier this season, but has slowed in the last week. The real problem with MKG continues to be his shooting. The more I see of Kidd-Gilchrist, the harder his shot is to watch. He dazzles with his athleticism, hustle, and toughness but when he takes a rare jumper, hide the women and children because it’s going to get ugly.
With MKG’s play in decline, Waiter’s inconsistency, and Anthony Davis’ injury, the door is starting to open for the group of Barnes, Drummond, Shved, and Singler.
4. Jonas Valanciunas (Last Week: Honorable Mention)
Jonas Valanciunas, but you may call him “V”, has been steadily improving in first month of basketball in the States. Big V dominated international youth tournaments growing up, winning a gold medal and MVP in every FIBA youth tournament he played in.3 Valanciunas stood out because of his superior size (7’0) and great hands. Teenage Serbians were no match for Big V, but the question was would his success translate in the NBA?
After a modest first couple games, Valanciunas has come on strong. He put in his career best performance last Sunday against the Spurs. Valanciunas went right at Tim Duncan numerous times for an easy buckets. Duncan may not be in his prime, but the future hall of famer is far from the likes of a Serbian teen. Valanciunas’ 22 point, 7 rebound performance showed he can be a force with the big boys in this league, but his 2 points, and 2 rebounds in 28 minutes against Grizzlies big front line shows V still has plenty of room for improvement.
5. Anthony Davis (Last Week: 3
Although The Brow has found a permanent home perched atop Anthony Davis’ eyes, he hasn’t been able to find a home on the court. Davis has missed the Hornets last five games and could be out for another two weeks. To make matters worse for the Hornets, this happens to be the toughest two weeks they’ll face all season. The Davis-less Hornets play the Thunder, Bucks, Grizzlies, Lakers, and Heat in an eight day span. Not only will the Hornets be deprived of The Brow’s services against four of the NBA’s best, but fans everywhere will miss out on The Brow vs. Durantula, The Brow vs. The Black Mamba, The Brow vs. Flash, and even The Brow vs. Brandon Jennings. The disappointment of missing these matchups lies beyond the fact they sound like the undercard to Wrestlemania XX, but that we’re missing the opportunity to see the league’s biggest stars take on one of the league’s future stars. The Brow stays in the rankings this week, but will likely fall out until he returns to action.
Harrison Barnes, Kyle Singler, Andre Drummond, Alexey Shved
The Pistons are struggling to find wins but Drummond and Singler are giving Detroit fans some silver lining. Drummond continues to be effective on the boards and on D, while Singler continues to score efficiently and at a higher volume.
Shved has slowed the last few games, but the return of Kevin Love should help the young Russian. With Rubio being cleared to practice for the first time since tearing his knee, it will be interesting to see how Rubio and Shved are used once Rubio gets healthy.
Harrison Barnes is playing big minutes for a Warriors team that has won 5 of 7. Barnes has been quietly scoring at a respectable rate (10.1 PPG), but there was nothing quiet about these two points against Minnesota big man Nikola Pekovic. Enjoy.