NBA, NBA Draft / Mar 16, 2010 / 4:59 pm

NBA Sophomore Class vs. The Rookies: Who’s Better?

Russell Westbrook, Dime #43

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: In just about every sport, you can’t accurately judge a draft class for at least three years after the fact (and longer than that in baseball).

Going into the ’09 NBA Draft, everybody decided early that the class was weak, but look around the League now. Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry look like certified future superstars, while Brandon Jennings isn’t far behind. Then you’ve got Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton, Jonny Flynn, Taj Gibson, Omri Casspi, Jonas Jerebko, DeJuan Blair and Chase Budinger making immediate impacts as starters or sixth men in Year One. And this is all without the one “sure thing” from that draft, Blake Griffin, having seen an NBA minute yet.

The ’08 Draft was initially viewed as a strong one, and in that case, it seems the experts were on-point. Coming down the home stretch in their second season, Derrick Rose and Brook Lopez are already in place as the centerpieces of their franchises. Russell Westbrook is a future All-Star. Then there’s Michael Beasley, Kevin Love O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, Danilo Gallinari, Jason Thompson, Roy Hibbert, J.J. Hickson, Robin Lopez, Courtney Lee, George Hill, Serge Ibaka, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Mario Chalmers among those running the gamut from being on the cusp of stardom to progressing nicely as solid starters or key reserves.

Over the weekend the DimeMag.com reader poll asked, “Who is the Sophomore of the Year?” Westbrook got an overwhelming 44% of the vote, with D-Rose behind him with 25%. Lopez and Marc Gasol (drafted in ’07) also got more than 10% of the vote, while Beasley, Mayo and Love brought up the rear. You could make a solid case for Rose or Lopez having been better than Westbrook this year, but Westbrook’s OKC Thunder are in position to make the playoffs, unlike his aforementioned sophomore counterparts.

We’re still a season away from being able to accurately judge the ’08 draftees, and two seasons away for the ’09 class. And hopefully we all realize the All-Star Weekend Rookie Challenge means nothing. But from the early returns, which class looks like it will be the strongest years down the line?

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  • Bill

    Didn’t all the “experts” predict that this past draft class was one of the weakest after Griffin?

    Weren’t they all suppose to be role players?

    Sure looks like they failed big time.

  • Blue

    IMHO…the top tier players in this rookie class are going to be better than their sophmore counterparts. however, i do think the sophmore class is deeper and will produce more productive players in the coming years.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Jack J

    Both the Rookies and Sophs have a great crop of guards – and I would include Ty Lawson in the debate – but I would have to give the Sophs an edge right now. Mayo, Westbrook, Rose, Beasley, Lopez, Gordon, Love and even Bayless are going to be good for a long while. I love what Curry, Evans, Lawson, Budinger and the Hornets backcourt are doing, but beyond those first two names, I don’t see the same star power that I see in the Sophs.

    But like you said AB, it’ll be a while before we can more accurately debate this

  • My Favorite Superhero

    @ Jack J, I agree with you about the star power of the Sophs, they do have a wider range of positions and more guys you can build around……BUT, the rookies seem hungrier to me

    The soph’s have all the opportunities of being in the league, being on garbage to okay teams, but with the exception of a few, you don’t see them living up to their potential…and I cite All-Star weekend this year….after the game was getting out of hand, the sophmore’s basically gave up, but R. Westbrook kept balling

    my opinion, the rooks will produce better NBA players, while the soph’s will produce more all-stars and superstars

  • NBA_Fan

    There were almost no legit big men drafted in 2009. Only Griffin, Blair, and maybe Gibson. Beyond them, it was all point guards.

  • RonNation

    wesley mathews vastly underrated

  • LakeShow84

    People put Westbrook OVER Rose?? I mean Westbrook is good and all but OVER Rose??

    Wow i mean put Derrick Rose on the Thunder and watch the FLUCK out.. and you can switch them since they both PG’s..

    goofy peeps i swear.. its frightening some of the votes that come straight from us fans.. like the tally was taken in Dumbf#$k, Maine..

  • LakeShow84

    @ NBAfan

    And they all undersized too.. isnt that sad.. such a guard league..

  • flavur

    Rose is way better than westbrook but rose is definitely more injury prone.

  • Ben1en

    The two draft classes will supply the NBA with great games, great matchups, and great plays for at least the next 7 years. I’m happy to be an NBA fan right now.

  • http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/ProphetGK ProphetGK

    Hard to say both classes are very good, so much for having a weak draft class…

  • quest???

    didnt they both played against each other? the rookies won so end of discussion.

  • cesar

    totally agree w/ 2 and 3!

  • Ian

    rookies and its not close

  • http://ihateyou.com Chicagorilla


    How is Rose injury prone? he got slammed to the ground. and is Day to day! He would be playing if they didn’t trade away all our talent and we still had a shot at the playoffs. Rose doesnt get injured very often. Not even in highschool. Check the facts. Injury prone would be guys who play 60/82 game every year like AI or Shaq.

  • http://ihateyou.com Chicagorilla


    oh to answer the question, i’ll take the ’08 class. but not by much. With Bees under acheiving and Griffin bring hurt, 08 is up right now. But if Griff comes back and is a beast, then 09 wins. But Bees could be starting to turn the corner into beastmode himself

  • GoEasy

    yo DIME, not this: Phoenix had more points (79) at half, than the heat (76) had their ENTIRE game last night.

  • Celts Fan

    It’s still very clearly the ’08 class. Mayo and Lopez will be consistent All Stars, Westbrook’s clearly on the rise, Rose will be a top 5 PG and KLove looks nice. That’s not even touching the tons of great role players outta the draft or Eric Gordon (I’m still kinda on the fence w/ him…)

    This year’s draft still has a few ?s. Blake’s probably legit, but who knows, especially w/ all the Clipper stink on him, Tyreke really strikes me as a “Big #s on a bad team” guy. Not that he’s not good, but I’m not sure he’s a #1 on a winning team. Curry’s for real, and I still think Brandon Jennings is gonna end up as the best player from this class in terms of contributions to a winner (again, “You play to win the game!”)

    This draft was clearly better than people thought (though, again, there doesn’t look to be any superduperstars there – unless Tyreke can keep doing what he’s doing on a winner,) but I still think it’s ’08 that was better.

  • Artem

    Forgot about Anthony Randolph. Until his injury was considered to have the highest star power after D Rose, only needs to be managed by someone who is clinically sane.

  • http://dime eyes

    Brandon Jennings,Tyreke Evans,Steph Curry are already almost top 10 in the league already. Throw in Lawson who will beast in the playoffs,Collison,Thornton,Flynn when Rambis stops being Phil Jackson,Blair,Casspi. It’s no contest

    The rooks are very overratted except for Westbrook who is the real deal & getting better. Beasley just needs a PG & better coach. They’re not handling him well & Chalmers is their PG-NOTTTTT(BUM)Gallo(Bum)

    The Rooks won W/O Blake Griffin who I don’t see being this trandscendent talent all the EXPERTS/Scouts see.

    There always right & I’m always wrong. hahahahaahhahaha
    What’s the difference between me & most scouts/experts. I actually played basketball at a high level & coached as well. I wasn’t given the job based on who I know.
    It’s funny some people on this site would have better teams than all this wannabe execs & so called nothings. The talent overall in the N.B.A. sucks & is getting worse year by year.

    IBaka,Luc Richard,JJ Hickson,Gordon,Mayo,Love,Lee,Hibbert
    Robin Lopez are okay at best. None of these players are legit starters. If so you will guarantee your city a losing year.

    As much pub as the Thunder gets in the West. Lets at least give the Bucks some credit. Had Jennings not had that Throughbread start. He’d actually be playing well now. 55 wasn’t the only game he had this yr. I’d still take wins over stats anyday. Though nowadays fantasy #’s & points mean everything. LOL. Why do you think the game has gotten away from team ball. Everyone is out to stack stats & make more money. Again the fault is not on the players. It’s the way the league is run along with media hype. The scores & fantasy studs are the best in the league. I’d like a tally of all the fantasy leaders Wins & Rings. Whenever Rick Kamla or anybody on Dime would like.

    Lastly Terrance Williams quite as kept is going to turn into a very unique player in this league. He has the BEasley problem playing w/o a PG. It makes the game very difficult for others. It’s a Luxury playing with any legit Passing Point guard or playmaker. They find you & give you open shots.

  • RC

    PG – Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook
    SG – O.J. Mayo or Courtney Lee
    SF – Danillo Galinari or
    PF – Michael Beasley or J.J. Hickson
    C – Brook Lopez or Marc Gasol


    PG – Stephen Curry or Brandon Jennings
    SG – Tyreke Evans or Marcus Thorton
    SF – Chase Budinger or Jared Jerebko
    PF – Taj Gibson
    C – Dejuan Blair

    Sophomores are more talented. Guard positions are pretty equal.

  • d

    well the rookies beat the sophomores all-star weekend… However, I will say that the Rookies have more back court and wing talent (Curry, Reke, Jennings, Thornton, Lawson, Flynn, Buddinger, Caspi) whereas the Sophomores have a much better front court (Love, Hickson, Thompson, Lopez, Hibbert, Beasley).

  • Hansosword

    That one year of college makes all the difference.