NEW YORK — What if I told you there is an incoming NBA rookie currently playing in Slovenia who absolutely schooled Jonas Valanciunas a couple weeks ago in a EuroCup game (20 points and 8 rebounds to Valanciunas’ 5 points and 8 rebounds).
He is the same guy who had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks last night against BC Akovmas of Ukraine.
The New York Knicks need a center to other than Ronny Turiaf, who currently is the only NBA-ready pivot on their roster. But the Knicks also own the rights to Jerome Jordan, the 44th overall pick of the 2010 draft whose rights were purchased from the Milwaukee Bucks for $1 million.
Jordan spent Jordan last season with KK Hemofarm of the Adriatic League in Serbia, averaging 15 minutes per game in the domestic league and shooting 73.5 percent from the field (averaging 7.8 points), while also appearing in four Eurocup games and shooting 68.8 percent, averaging 8.5 points in just under 12 minutes per game.
This year, his team (for now) is KRKA Novo Mesto, which also plays in the Adriatic League (Jordan’s team upset Adam Morrison’s now-former team, Red Star of Belgrade, four nights ago).
Jordan has a small buyout, and his agent told Marc Berman of the New York Post he expects his client to be playing in the NBA this season – either with the Knicks or with some other NBA team. With the Knicks hoarding cap pace for the free agent class of 2012, and with Kurt Thomas indicating to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are all viable options aside from the Knicks, there is a strong chance that Jordan will be logging major minutes at center for Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who has shown himself to be willing to give major minutes and roles to unproven players (See Landry Fields and Timofey Mozgov).
Now, does that make Jordan Rookie of the Year material? No, not automatically.
But a major role on a winning team would put him in the hunt, and at this point in the preseason (wait a minute, it’s not the preseason quite yet) it is not too soon to rule anybody of the ROY race.