Rated Rookies: Week 20

Evan Turner — He’s been on the hot list and he’s definitely been on the not list, but this week, Evan Turner is moving on up thanks to a solid start to the month of March. Turner had 10 points and four assists in the Sixers last victory over the Indiana Pacers and he also had 10 points in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 4. Most impressive, however, was the line of 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block that Turner put up in a big overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors. The 20 points were three off of his career-high and he scored them on 60 percent shooting from the floor. After the game Turner was given the postgame interview and he admitted to being surprised to hear his hometown fans cheering him. For the second overall pick in the draft, there’s a lot of pressure.

It’s been a bumpy road for Turner as he’s tried to adjust to the NBA game, but one thing that has to be said about him is that he’s kept his composure and has taken his fair share of criticism without letting it affect him too much. Thanks to Turner’s improved play, the Sixers have won their past three games and have gone 30-17 after starting the season 3-13. Pretty impressive.

DeMarcus Cousins — While his team hasn’t been doing so well by dropping three straight, DeMarcus Cousins is showing again why he’s well worth the growing pains that have accompanied his rookie season. Averaging 14 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, Cousins has been putting up impressive lines this past week. First there was the 28 point, 11 rebound double-double to go along with four assists and a blocked shot against the Blazers. Then, the 18 point, 18 rebound monster night where he also dished seven assists and added two steals and three blocked shots (seriously, that’s a fantastic line, fantasy freaks) and then there was the 20 point, 11 rebound performance against the Rockets where three assists, three steals and a block helped to round things out. Cousins continues to have the best Kanye shrug around (yes, even better than Kanye himself), but it’s a lot easier to love it when he’s posting numbers like the ones just mentioned.

Maybe I’ll look like a fool in three years time, but I believe in DeMarcus Cousins. If I look silly, I’ll live with it. In the spirit of the Sloan conference this past weekend, numbers don’t lie, right?

Avery Bradley — He’s been on this list once before and if it pained me then, it sure as hell pains me now. I’m a fan of Avery, a rookie guard guard known for his defensive skills. Why wouldn’t I be? Regardless of how I feel about how Bradley’s career may turn out, the truth is he hasn’t been very good this season. At least not yet. And that’s OK, but it’s also pretty disappointing.

Since returning from a D-League stint, Bradley has appeared in nine of the Celtics last 10 games, albeit briefly. Playing nearing 10 minutes in the Celtics most recent victory over the Bucks, Bradley finished scoreless from the floor, missing all three of his field goal attempts while recording two assists, a turnover and a steal. On the season, Bradley’s numbers are almost non-existent: 1.2 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game. Of course this is partially because of the limited minutes he’s playing and the team he is playing on. Still, I expected more NBA readiness from him when he is on the floor.

Indiana @ Toronto, Friday, 7 p.m. — So, you’re looking for a reason to tune in to Friday night’s Raptors/Pacers game, and two teams with losing records playing a game in the beginning of March might not seem like must-see TV to kick off your weekend. If you’re a rookie fan like myself, Ed Davis and Paul George make this exciting. A pair of rookies who have been playing some solid basketball as of late, look for George to fly high and try to get a slam or two while Davis protects the paint and causes Toronto fans to fall even harder for him.