Latest News, NBA / Nov 24, 2009 / 12:00 pm

5 Rookies That Demand More Attention

Marcus Thornton

Sports media lately has been hit by cupid’s Italian love arrow with an over saturation of all things Brandon Jennings. We all know by now what Young Money and fellow rookies Tyreke Evans and Ty Lawson are capable of. But quietly, the rest of the rookie pile is exceeding many people’s expectations of their class prior to last June’s draft. Across the board, there are numerous rooks making an impact with their respective teams. Here are a few young guys whose play should demand more minutes and attention.

*All season averages are as of Tuesday 11/24

Marcus Thornton, Hornets (13 ppg and 2 rpg through 10 games/New Orleans: 6-9)
Thornton’s stats won’t immediately jump out at you, but I love his game. After watching him tear it up at LSU the past few years (he was the 2009 SEC Player of the Year) and hearing the buzz about him during draft workouts, I thought he could squeak into the first round. He ended up going 43rd to the Heat and subsequently traded to NOLA. Thornton barely saw the floor when Byron Scott was at the helm, but since his absence, he has scored in bunches. Thornton scored 24 in a one-point road loss to Miami Sunday night, and is averaging 17.6 points and 2.6 dimes over the last five games; leading NO to three wins in that time. At 6-4, Thornton can score from everywhere on the court. He’s a slasher and is constantly the recipient of easy layups from basket cuts, while also being able to shoot the three with accuracy (39 percent). Thornton is going to have to add to his repertoire if he wants to have more longevity in the League though. Right now he is a decent defender, but is tabbed solely a scorer, as evident by his 2 boards and .8 assists a game.

Darren Collison, Hornets (9.9 ppg and 3.7 apg through 11 games/New Orleans: 6-9)

Ever since Chris Paul went down with an ankle injury and coach Scott was given an indefinite vacation, Collison and Thornton have been lighting it up for New Orleans. Collison is averaging 14 points and 6.4 dimes over the past 5 games; including a 22 and 11 outburst Saturday against Atlanta and the best record in the League. After watching Collison dominate the Pac-10, despite having to share duties with Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday, I was skeptical whether he could make the leap from great collegian to solid pro. 15 games into the season and he looks to be one of the steals of the first round (Drafted 21st). Collison is easing the pain left by Paul’s absence and is winning games for coach Jesse Ventura, I mean Jeff Bower (Hornets are 3-2 without Paul). He has great vision and is mature with how he runs the offense. Along with Bobby Brown and Paul, I can’t think a better set of three point guards in the League, except for maybe Portland.

Jordan Hill, Knicks (4.2 ppg and 1.2 rpg through six games/New York: 3-10)
Now, I am not from the East, nor do I live in New York – like most of the other Dime guys – but I saw Hill play at Arizona for three years and have watched him sit through his rookie season on League Pass. Yes, he’s unpolished and needs work, but Hill can be very good for the Knicks. Every time he goes into the game, he produces. He has a high shooting percentage (61.1 percent) and I really don’t understand why – as bad as the Knicks are – he is not on the floor more often. Hill does look lost at times, but to be fair, he hasn’t be given much of a chance to get his feet wet. Only getting 6.3 minutes a game, as the 8th pick, on a team that might win 17 games all year, is ridiculous. If anyone believes he is going to be worse for New York than Jared Jeffries, whom I am surprised is still making money in the League, then more power to you. The only way he is going to develop is if he is playing and he’s never going to produce for the Knick critics if he continues to rack up DNP’s and 2-minute games. The kid can shoot the mid-range J, he can bang inside and he has good touch around the basket. I was going to end with saying that there is a reason he went so high in the Draft, but then I remembered who went second, which instead induced a laugh attack.

Wes Matthews, Utah (6.9 ppg and 1.2 rpg through 13 games/Utah: 7-6)
Matthews is the Anthony Morrow surprise of this year’s draft class (undrafted out of Marquette) and is playing great for Utah. His biggest game thus far has come in a November 13th win at Philadelphia, where he dropped 16 points and four boards. Matthews was initially a surprise addition to make the roster this year, but 13 games into the season and he has already started five. Jerry Sloan isn’t known for playing rookies with much regularity and it will be interesting to see if Matthews maintains the 21.1 minutes per game he’s gotten so far. Oddly enough, he has a real similar game as Morrow; he drives a little more, but still kind of lives and dies by his jump shot. I could have also put Eric Maynor at this spot, but I let y’all know about him last week.

Terrence Williams, Nets (11 ppg and 2.2 apg through 13 games/New Jersey: 0-13)
Williams is getting the most playing time out of this group, at 29.3 a game, but still deserves some attention. With as much young talent as New Jersey has, it is surprising to see just how much they are struggling. Going into the draft, I thought that he was going to get lost in the NBA. I thought he would become a tweener and not really find a spot – similar to how Antoine Wright was like coming out of Texas A&M in 2005. While it’s still too early to definitively say that Williams is going to be a star, he is already showing flashes of becoming a great player. Along with Devin Harris, Courtney Lee and CDR, Williams is undoubtedly the future of the Nets. In a loss at Milwaukee last Wednesday, he recorded his third double-double of the season, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. At 6-6, he is bigger than other point guards, and can bully smaller defenders into the post. He is still struggling to find his shot, but that’s understandable as he continues to acclimate to the NBA. Hopefully being on the worst team in the League doesn’t mess with his psyche the same way it is Douglas-Roberts.

Who did I forget? What other rookies do you think are making a strong push for more PT?

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  • ERIC

    Tony Douglas is more deserving than Jordan Hill

  • AdvancedMind

    Im sorry did you actually say Jordan Hill?
    He was garbage in AZ and he will continue to be Chris Wilcox Jr.

  • Mikey F Baby

    No love for Jonny Flynn? wow

  • ERIC

    Terrance Williams – “At 6-6, he is bigger than other point guards, and can bully smaller defenders into the post.”

    He isnt a point guard. Thats like saying Shaq is bigger than point guards.

    Williams has been playing mostly the 3, sometimes the 2.

  • Caleb

    Tyreke Evans ? James Harden ?

  • http://www.dimemag.com Jack J

    Nah man,I know that Johnny Flynn is looking good right now, so is James Harden and the other guys I mentioned in the first few lines. They’re getting love from everywhere though – these guys are still a bit under the radar (Terrence is from playing in NJ)

  • UncheckedAggression

    Casspi in Sac maybe

  • Mavsgirl75

    Rodrigue (Roddy) Beaubois! He’s been a big part of Dallas’ five game win streak!

  • http://hornetshype.com ticktock6

    Haha, there’s the love for Marcus Thornton’s game. I’m happy now.

  • Drew

    I think its important to notice that the guys mentioned who are excelling right now (with the exception of Evans, and Jennings depending on how you view his development) have all had significant college experience. I always felt that guys with more than just 1 year of college were better prepared to contribute right away (I still believe that “god given stars” will eventually prevail in the league, though they take a bit longer, or the right environment, to fully develop their games ex:Kobe, Jermain O’Neal). I dont think 4 years is necessary, but you can definitely tell guys with 2-3 years have more refined games. In my opinion at least.

  • Loren

    Casspi, Beaubois, Budinger, Blair, Douglas, Gibson are all very deserving. It’s a good class.

  • http://yahoo.com john grizz

    T will is a sg with pg vision I’m a net fan and sit through all of ther bad games, twill just needs to be more aggresive at times he is 2 pasive. But he can really finish at the rim he does need to work on his j, and cris douglas roberts is a fuckin beast averging 20 points with a high shooting percentage he has no problems so get ur facts straight bitch. Fuck the kniicks

  • Tbest

    Taj Gibson has been playing pretty good for the bulls.

  • nola

    a better trio of point guards… um lakers? fisher, farmar, and shannon brown? or orlando? jameer, jwill, anthony johnson?

  • james p

    yeah , I never saw terrence willimas play but I think hes a small forward.

  • Drew

    Nola:
    Hate to dodge the question, but I cant really choose. LA PG’s got a bit more athleticism and a vet leader. While ORL got a relatively vet leader (J-Will has really become a solid point guard in his later years) with Jameer being a solid PG to build on. Farmar and Johnson sort of cancel each other out. I would personally go with LA, based solely on Fishers reputation as a winner and overall leader. I actually don’t think Jameer becoming a guy like Fisher later in his career is too crazy of a claim, as long as he continues to improve his shooting. Good pick for comparison though.

  • http://dime eyes

    @14
    That is a funny question. Damn Basketball where’d you go man.

  • Hugo

    hey, take a look at Rodrigue Beaubois. This guy will be fantastic in no time. He is quick like tony parker, penetrates with ease against anyone and has 25 feet range on his game. Did i mention his leaping ability? After all that, he also has great court vision and plays very good D already. He kept jennings without a fg on OT the other day … Take a look he will be great!

  • pleasepleaseplease

    Many people seem to believe that Jordan Hill isn’t playing because the Knicks want to showcase Jeffries (and now Eddy Curry). To me, if that’s actually the plan it’s a very crappy one. Everybody around the league knows what Jeffries and Curry are about and letting them embarrese themselves on the floor is certainly not going to up their trade value.

    Mike D’Antoni’s rotation is simply mindnumbing. It starts with Hill racking up DNP’s, but it certainly doesn’t end there.

    Why does Toney Douglas get less minutes then Duhon while clearly being the better player on both sides of the court?
    Why is David Lee still playing as a Center when he never got the job done on the defensive end and Hill and Milicic are rotting on the bench?
    What’s up with pulling Gallinari every couple of minutes? How is your best player supposed to get into some kind of rhythm?

    The Knicks need to develope their talent and imho if Coach D’Antoni keeps this nonsense up he needs to go.

  • http://www.hot1047fm.com Steve Gimez 10a-3p on Hot 104.7 Modesto, CA

    OMRI CASSPI!!!!!!!!
    9ppg 4rpg

  • jaysmoove

    good post but im not sure about Saying hill Demands more attention than toney douglas Tony is playing his best basket ball of late and i think he can be more of an impact than that scrub azz dookie duhon.

  • obmb

    Robert Dozier

  • Oms

    James Harden

  • matthew

    Dante Cunningham was a four-year college player and has played well the last few games for the Blazers. With Outlaw and Batum both gone for all or most of the season, and Juwan Howard being the only other backup forward on the team, he’s going to get his chance, too.

  • cedric

    I might include Chase Budinger in that list and Caspi.

  • chief youngblood

    very glad to see thornton and collison getting some playing time , now that scott has hit the road ( and the chris paul injury cementing the minutes ) . collison has great speed and catches defense off guard on drives to the hoop 2-3 times a game for easy points , thornton is getting better by the game but still has some problems with the NBA pace and tends to make poor decisions and turn the ball over , both though have huge heart and improve with every minute of experience playing well deep into games

    and they give us a reason not to give up the hornets yet.

  • cdubb

    What about Roddy Beaubois????