Christian Eyenga – While the Cavaliers had to wait a season to get Christian Eyenga playing for their club — when he was drafted in 2009 with the 30th pick, he was playing for the Spanish Second Division club Prat — he’s become a bit of a bright spot in an otherwise horrendous season. After signing his contract in the summer of 2010, Eyenga had an up-and-down start to the season and was sent to the Cavaliers’ D-League affiliate Erie BayHawks for seven weeks. After he was called up on January 2, there have been ups and downs, but for the past week, Eyenga has been solid. Or, as solid as one can be, playing for the Cavaliers this season.
In his last four games, Eyenga has scored 12.3 points per game, while shooting 48 percent from the floor and upping his season averages to 8.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He’s got plenty to learn, but lots of freedom to make mistakes on a team that’s currently going through a 25-game losing streak.
Paul George – Paul George was on this list last week, but we can’t leave him out as he continues to rise and put in solid performances. The equation is a simple one when it comes to the 6-foot-8 rookie out of Fresno State: The longer you keep him on the floor, the better his numbers are. And since former head coach Jim O’Brien’s firing and assistant coach Frank Vogel stepping into the interim coach role, George has remained on the floor.
In his last nine games, George has averaged 12.4 points per game, up from his season average of 7.9 points per contest. Even more importantly for the Pacers, they’ve won five of their last six with George averaging better than 24 minutes of playing time. After the sporadic start to the season he had under O’Brien, it’s nice to see some consistency given to the rookie. It’s also nice to see him making positive things happen with those minutes.
Honorable mention: DeMarcus Cousins for his monster 25-point, 14-rebound night against the Jazz last night.
Al-Farouq Aminu – After putting in a very successful month of November, Al-Farouq Aminu has been taking a steady tumble down the rookie rankings and is currently sitting in the “Not” seat. Pains me to put him here again, but that’s how it goes. Maybe we can blame this one on the rookie wall? Hmm. After topping double-figures eight times in November, Aminu’s shooting has taken a nosedive. The result? He has reached double-figures just three times in the 32 games since. While his season numbers are holding steady at 6.4 points per game, Aminu often disappears during his time on the floor and his performance hasn’t been good enough for the eighth pick in the draft.
Derrick Favors – Speaking of guys not doing enough with their time on the floor, Derrick Favors has been pretty damn quiet for the third pick in the NBA draft. While he’s averaging 6.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, over New Jersey’s last three games — all losses — Favors has averaged an unimpressive 3.6 points while shooting 28 percent from the floor. In comparison, look at the numbers Raptors’ rookie Ed Davis is putting up after being selected with the 13th pick in the draft: 6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, a block and just 0.5 turnovers a game while shooting 58 percent. The great news for these two underachievers: They’re young. Really young. Like really, really young. Aminu doesn’t turn 21 until September, and Favors was born in 1991. These guys have lots and lots of time to make me look silly.
Washington @ Cleveland – Sunday February 13th, 6:00 pm ET – What better way to ring in Valentine’s Day than by watching John Wall’s Wizards take on Christian Eyenga’s Cavs. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve got other things planned — at least, I hope you do, unless your significant other is a serious hoops head, and if she/he is, hold onto them — but really, the Wizards coming into Cleveland without a road win and the Cavs currently on a 25-game losing streak? This game could turn into one of those must-see contests of the year, if only to see which awful record goes on.
Cleveland will face the Pistons and Clippers before the Wizards game, so they’ve got two chances to snap the streak before then, but if they don’t … yikes. That’s a whole lot of bad going around.