NBA / Sep 18, 2007 / 11:57 am

Dime’s (Early) All-Rookie Team

IMAGE DESCRIPTIONOne of these guys won’t be on the list…

While the recent knowledge of Greg Oden‘s season-ending knee surgery distressed the city of Portland, about three hours north on I-5, Kevin Durant started making room on his trophy case in his new Seattle home. But while KD is surely the front-runner for ’07-08 Rookie of the Year, how will all the other rookies pan out as the season unfolds? With that in mind, we made up our Preseason All-Rookie Team.

STARTERS
Kevin Durant, Sonics — As a freshman last year in the Big 12, KD averaged a ridiculous 25.8 points per game, good enough for fourth-best in the nation, plus his 11.1 rebounds also ranked fourth nationally. Seattle dealt Ray Allen and let Rashard Lewis go in free agency, basically handing the franchise over to Durant, who automatically becomes the go-to-guy on every play, just like he was at Texas. He’ll get so many shots that it’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t average at least 18 points a night.

Al Horford, Hawks — While battling under the glass with Joakim Noah last year, Horford still managed to grab 9.5 boards per game, along with 13.2 points and 1.8 blocks. In Atlanta, a team dying for a solid inside presence, Horford will dominate the boards next to Shelden Williams and put up some points in the paint, allowing last year’s team leader Josh Smith more time to run the floor.

Mike Conley Jr., Grizzlies — Last year the Grizzlies utilized veterans Damon Stoudamire and Chucky Atkins in their attempt at point guard-by-committee, and the two vets weren’t bad with Memphis’ bevy of young, capable scorers once the team switched to its up-tempo style. Having turned the reigns over to Conley (and second-year PG Kyle Lowry), the rookie will thrive like Steve Nash did in Phoenix under new head coach Marc Iavaroni.

Julian Wright, Hornets — In his two years at Kansas, Wright posterized his fair share of cars in and out of the Big 12. Standing 6-9 with long arms and hops, Wright will be a favorite target for Chris Paul on the break. He’ll be the latest in an entertaining line of Hornets’ dunkers, from Ricky Davis to Desmond Mason to The Birdman.

Rodney Stuckey, Pistons — With a Pistons backcourt already consisting of All-Stars Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, Stuckey isn’t going to start anytime soon, but he’ll get plenty of playing time since Chauncey and Rip aren’t getting any younger. Flip Saunders can utilize Stuckey, who can play both guard spots, off the bench like he’s done with Jason Maxiell.

BENCH
Jeff Green, Sonics — While Durant gets all the attention and the shots, Green will be making things happen on the low. He’ll get his points, as we saw from a few blow-up summer league games, but he’ll make his biggest impact as a passer and doing all the little things to help the Sonics win a few games.

Marco Belinelli, Warriors — Defense may not be his strong suit (Beli will get dunked on more than a few times this year), but Marco can fill it up on the offensive end. If he can get playing time in Golden State’s system, with Baron Davis feeding him the ball, he’s going to drop buckets.

Corey Brewer, T’wolves — General consensus says the Wolves will be the worst team in the League, but Brewer is one of the few bright spots. Watch him this year to see the beginning of his development into a lock-down defender, a la Andre Iguodala in his first couple seasons as a pro.

Yi Jianlian, Bucks — If the rumors that Milwaukee guaranteed Yi 20-25 minutes a night are true, the rookie will at least have enough floor time to make his case for Rookie of the Year. But seriously, Yi has a ton of talent, and while his defense needs work, he can score like a pro already.

Morris Almond, Jazz — After averaging 26.4 points per game last season for the Rice Owls, Almond has found himself in the perfect situation to excel as a rookie. The Jazz, having made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, had their biggest hole at the two-guard position. Teaming up in the backcourt with point guard Deron Williams, Almond possesses an NBA-ready body and an explosive scoring ability which allows him to put up big points in a matter of minutes.

Acie Law IV, Hawks — Is he the point guard Atlanta’s been waiting for? With so many scorers around him, Law should rack up assists this year, and he can score a little bit, too. In fact, he just might be the Hawks’ second option behind Joe Johnson for when they need a big bucket.

Joakim Noah, Bulls — Out of the three bigs we had pegged for this spot – Noah, Spencer Hawes and Brandan Wright – Joakim is the one most ready to contribute right away. Hawes will take a while to adjust to the strength and speed of the NBA, and Wright will just get overpowered on a nightly basis. Noah will obviously make his biggest impact on defense, but don’t overlook his offense. If Chicago got some point-production out of Tyrus Thomas last year, surely they can get something out of Noah.

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  • http://deleted Bron42

    can we really still call j-midi julian wright a highlight dunker after that windmill-opps my ankle flop?

  • Captain America

    KD can’t get to the rim. Brewer will rock your world.

  • http://luckylester.com Lucky Lester

    KD can’t get to the rim? Weird, because he was doing it against the New Dream Team – he may not be able to grab a rebound with those tooth pick arms, but give your head a good shake Captain Kangaroo, to the rim he’ll be going.

  • http://psinapticapotheosis.org Amar

    Yi will posterize many folding chairs in drills during practice for the bucks this season.

  • nick

    how is jeff green not a starter. He will most likely put up better numbers then KD if he gets the same minutes. most likely to win roy because he is the most polished player coming out of college just like roy was last yr and come to think of it they were picked at the same spot if i am not mistaken.

  • http://deleted Bron42

    cuz hes not considered as exciting

  • bigdre

    my starting 5′s durant green law brewer and horford. conley’s got lowry and stoudamire for competition, law basically has the job (sorry speedy). wright might produce, but brewer in a bad team might put up better #s. stuckey might be stuck behind rip and billups, they’re old but they’ve proven they’re durable. green is gonna put up #s with durant in seattle.

  • DOC

    I like that squad but the sixers rooks aint shit huh

  • SJ

    You’ve forgotten Luis Scola. His pretty much guaranteed a start in Houston and is no doubt gonna give a lot more consistent numbers than anyone on that list. Gotta give some credit where it’s due

  • LBJ23′s Soul Cousin

    Captain America is right. Durant can’t get to the bucket like people think. Plus with that frame of his once he gets to the cup he’s gonna get killed by the cats who can bench twice his weight. His strong suit is cleary his jumper and when thats off (like we saw in summer league) then he’s ineffective. Al Thorton needs not to be slept on, Brewer will have an impact, and Stuckey is just flat out nice.

    P.S. Joakim Noah shouldn’t have even made this list

  • http://deleted Bron42

    can some one please put ice water on these guys all over scolas nuts..HES NOT THAT NICE

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    For all the love Scola gets on here, he’d better be a BEAST. Or else I’ve been led astray.

  • http://psinapticapotheosis.org Amar

    Bron, didn’t you get the memo? the nba head office is already penning scola’s name on the finals mvp trophy right now. additionally, just to save time, all the records are being changed to read: “what the next best player had +1″, so right now scola has more assists and steals than stock, more points than kareem and so forth.

    also, LeBron is going to publically give the title of ‘king’ to him, as well as the marketing vehicle of ‘witness’. shaq will make nicknames for scola. kobe will say in interviews that he’d pass to scola. and andrei kirilenko’s wive will change their aggreement so that andrei can sex someone else up one night a year, but only if it’s scola. (and masha gets to watch)

  • http://www.bolapresa.blogspot.com Danilo

    Nice, nice, you are all so funny. But Scola is going to be a really nice role player: he’s damn smart, a good passer and will fit perfectly in Adelman style. He will start a lot of plays for Houston on the top of the key and do all the dirt work. His numbers will not be important, the guy is solid and will be playing a big role in Houston success. He won’t be ROY and won’t even come close to it, but there is not a lot of players in the league that can make the right decision, cut and feed from the post position like he can.

  • alex

    agree with Danilo. Scola won’t get the stats (and thus the recogntion) but he’ll be a solid player for that system. He’s a great passer and he’s got nifty, off rythm, inside moves that won’t make the highlight reel but are just as effective. He won’t be a BEAST but i’d take him over Anderson Varejao and Chris Webber.

  • http://psinapticapotheosis.org Amar

    I think Scola is a good player, and playing in the NBA, he’ll have an oppurtunity to help his team win games. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll be a smart vet that makes good decisions out there — but he’s not a magician who is going to transform houston and get rid of all of their problems. He flops a lot, and whines a lot. Thankfully for him, he’s not playing in the western conference of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and a young, motivated Shaquille O’Neal — otherwise he’d get beaten up.

  • Takesheart

    I dont see A.I. getting killed by guys who can bench twice his weight, when he takes it to the hoop so I believe Durant will be alright. He’s only 19 yrs old and he will gain weight naturally as he gets older but he has the skills to somewhat dominate on the offensive end already. Don’t sleep on Sean Williams of the New Jersey Nets either. It’ll be just like when the Nets had Kmart on the break with Williams, and J Kidd throwing him lobs.

  • Timothy Young

    My one and only question is how in all hell do you leave Nick Young’s name off the All Rookie Team? Keep sleeping on noodles, he’ll wake you up after grabing ROTY.

  • rem322

    Nick Young was left off the list because he is nowhere near as good as the players mentioned. I read an article the other day about the rookie rankings and Stuckey was listed as a top 5 rookie after the way he performed through both summer leagues. He put the numbers just like KD did. Too bad he won’t be taking home a ROY award playing 20 to 25 minutes behind Mr. Big Shot and Rip.

  • IM

    Al Thorton should have been on that list. He’ll be a top 3 rookie this year. Book it!

  • Donte. F

    One, Durant will not be taking home the ROY award. He’s a bit to thin at this point. It will be very to for him 2 get 2 the basket, and once that jumper isn’t working he’s outta luck. He should play the two instead of the three until he bulks up. Best bet for ROY is Jeff Green. Bad part about that is he’s not starting. He’ll play a good number of minutes but don’t think he’ll be able to get a feel for the game because of back & forth trips 2 the bench. Just like Brandon Roy, he doesn’t do things great, but Green does everything good. If not Green, I have Al Horfort taking home the award. Stuckey could have taken it if he wasn’t backing up Chauncy & Rip. So complete, big guard who can play either guard position.

  • Migel

    I agree on the Durant thing. Takesheart, I think a better point is that A.I. actually has the quickness to get to the rim, and he’s had his share of injuries doing so. The problem with Durant is that he is too small right now to play the 3, guys like Artest will eat him alive, and he’s probably a step slow to play the 2. All the top tier scorers in this league have the strength or quickness to get to the rim for easy baskets or to get to the line when their jumpers aren’t falling. I don’t think KD can do that yet. The same limitations will also hurt him the defensive end, even though the stretch armstrong arms will bail him out some. KD is crafty as hell and super competitive and will figure a way to score eventually, but don’t count on him competing for scoring titles like everybody seems to think he will until he develops the physical tools in a year or two. He can definitely get the 18/gm like the article says, but it’ll be on a high volume of shots, most of which are from the perimeter.

  • Swatguy

    Javaris Crittenton will be a ROY candidate. He will start next to the Best player in the Universe and you dont see Javaris blooming? Think again.