Every week (usually Monday), we’ll take a look around the league at how the rookie class of 2010 is doing. No, there won’t be rankings; there are enough of those out there. Instead, we’ll look at who’s hot, who’s not, and who will have big weeks coming up. Yes, the format of this column may change a bit as the season goes on and there’s more to talk about.
Blake Griffin — Unsurprisingly, Clippers rookie B.G. is showing why he was the number one pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. After his rookie season was put off a year because of a knee injury and surgery, Griffin has come out strong in his first four games as a pro. While the Clippers don’t look all that different from last season results-wise — going 0-4 to start the season — Griffin has put up impressive numbers in all four of the contests, including a 20-point, 14-rebound, four-assist performance in his debut against the Blazers. Through LAC’s four contests, Griffin is averaging 16.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, two assists and a steal per contest. Of those 10.3 rebounds, 5.3 are offensive.
Griffin is cleaning up inside, using his sheer athleticism to gobble up loose balls, gain his team extra possessions and get easy put back dunks. He’s explosive, dynamic and aggressive. He’s everything we had expected from him last season. Above all else, he’s a lot of fun to watch.
Greg Monroe — I’m not sure anyone knows what’s going on in Detroit, but one thing’s for certain — I expected to see Greg Monroe make more than one appearance so far this year.
Yes, that’s right, the Pistons seventh pick in the 2010 NBA Draft has been given exactly 7 minutes and 12 seconds of burn through three games with two of the box scores showing the dreaded DNP-CD. In those seven minutes, Monroe scored a basket, grabbed three rebounds and turned the ball over once.
We can hardly judge the rookie off of one performance, but it’s not a good sign that his coach isn’t allowing him to get out there onto the floor and show what he can do. When you feel strongly enough to use a seventh pick on a player, you should probably allow them to be on the floor. It’ll definitely take some time for Monroe to adjust to the NBA game. That isn’t going to happen with him on the bench. Like I said, no idea what’s going on in Detroit, but here’s hoping Monroe will get more tick soon so that we can see what the big man has to offer.
John Wall vs. Evan Turner — Evan Turner has been putting up solid numbers and getting regular minutes, but the number two pick has not yet had an explosive performance like the one Wall put up against the Hawks on Saturday night. In Washington’s second loss, Wall went for 28 points and nine assists while shooting 53 percent from the floor and getting to the free throw line 10 times. Each player will definitely want to one-up the other, even if both play it down and make it about getting the W for their respective teams. While Wall suffered a sprained ankle, he is expected to suit up tonight and his Wizards definitely need him with Gilbert Arenas not expected to play. Be sure to tune in to this one at 7 pm ET.
“I’m not going to have a great game every night. I hope people understand that.”
— John Wall being the realist, wiser than his 20 years
“I want that role in the fourth quarter every time. I want to be out there in crunch time and I want that ball in my hands.”
— DeMarcus Cousins, on playing in crunch time with five fouls in a comeback win against the Raptors
“He’s a stud, man. He’s going to be the face of that franchise for years to come.”
— Marcus Camby, on the potential of Blake Griffin
“I have to put Blake number one. I got Blake number one right now. Just … man. He’s a monster right now. I remember playing Blake in college, once he gets a rhythm going, he’s going to be unstoppable.”
— Sophomore DeMar DeRozan, on fellow 2009 draft class member, Blake Griffin
“S/O to my bro @blakegriffin if u ain’t following him u should b he is a human highlight machine lol”
— DeJuan Blair’s Twitter account, @DeJuan45