Rookie Rankings, Week 5: Duel at the Top of the Table

Looks like we’ve got a good old-fashioned rookie duel on our hands. Victor Oladipo, Gal Mekel

Tuesday’s showdown in Philadelphia between 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams and Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo was more than just a spectacular display by two future stars. It was a microcosm of this season’s race for Rookie of the Year.

In case you live in an igloo, both Carter-Williams and Oladipo had their first career triple-doubles in a wild double-overtime affair won by the Sixers, 126-125. MCW had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 while the “Little O” had 26, 10 and 10.

This is less of a stat and more of an oddball occurrence, but according to Elias, it marked the first time in NBA history that two rookies had their first triple-doubles in the same game.

Carter-Williams and Oladipo have been 1-2 in our Rookie Rankings since the start of the season, with very little separating the two.

MCW started with a bang, winning the season’s first Player of the Week and hoarding the early buzz. But he missed four games with a bruised foot, coming back to the pack a little bit.

Oladipo began the season coming off the bench but is averaging 16.6 points since being moved into the starting lineup eight games ago. He seems to have gotten a handle on his troubles with turnovers.

In their first matchup Nov. 27 in Orlando, Carter-Williams won the statistical battle but Oladipo’s Magic won the game. Now they are all even at one win apiece, with MCW still winning the numbers game.

“It’s not me vs. Oladipo,” Carter-Williams said Tuesday. “It’s Sixers vs. Orlando. It’s a team game.”

Sorry, kid. When folks tune in to watch the Sixers or the Magic, they are not watching the Sixers or the Magic. They are watching a pair of rookies who could give us the best race in a while.

Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin – the last three Rookie of the Year winners – all were unanimous choices. The last time someone besides the winner even received a first-place vote was 2010, when it was a three-man race.

It that season, the sustained stats of Tyreke Evans overshadowed a quick start by Brandon Jennings and a furious finish by Stephen Curry. Evans received 67 first-place votes, Curry received 43 and Jennings 12.

We could have a similar scenario this season. In addition to Carter-Williams and Oladipo, Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke is working his way into the discussion since returning from a broken hand. All three do plenty of ballhandling for tanking rebuilding teams, so the playing field appears level.

Carter-Williams and Oladipo meet twice more four days apart in late February and early March. The Sixers visit Utah on Feb. 12 and host the Jazz on March 8. The Magic entertain Utah on Wednesday and travel to Salt Lake City on March 22.

It should be fun.

On to the rankings.

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  46. Jeff says

    When I first saw Trey Burke play in the Summer League I must admit – Trey looked awful…Who was this guy? This isn’t the same player I saw at Michigan? Is he sick, is he injured, does he want his Mommy?….I couldn’t figure it out. As I Jazz fan I thought we had blown it…Michael-Carter- Williams could of been ours without trading up…. Victor Oladipo, who I knew was good…but this good?…amazing….I was thinking “Damn” we had somewhat of chance to get Damian Lillard, two years ago, who I wanted as I continued to watch the Warriors “not come out to play…yeee” (remember that movie quote?… moving on)….anyway, I digress…THE REAL TREY BURKE HAS ARRIVED….I think of these three rookies, I watched them play and visualize who they will be at the end of the season and Trey burke comes out on top…No Question…and I don’t even need to add the puncuation “?”..I’m that sure…by the end of the season this will be your rankings Mr. Sheridan…BTY, thanks for the work on this site (love it) and coming on our local Jazz Talk radio to give us your in-sight…enjoy listening to you and led me to this site….plus, you know your stuff.
    Just let me write this in for you and save some time for the end of the season “Rookie Rankings” top three…I have seen the future and the future is now, remember how you play each day – “will echo into the eternities”
    1. Trey Burke (looks more and more Iverson”ish” everyday)…reason Trey will be rookie of the year….because he is the most complete player of the three…you can nit-pick, but Trey is a leader and doesn’t have any real weaknesses, other than his size limitations
    2.Michael-Carter-Williams (“no, your not Magic Johnson and never will be)….Oh, except that outside shooting thing that even the Magic Man struggled with until later in his career when he learned the art of the deadly “three-point-set-shot”…M-C-W is good but the problem is he will never be “Magic good” and maybe not even “Trey good”…the reason you won’t win M-C-W is despite your size and length – you have a couple weaknesses (outside shooting)…and some limitations (speed, quickness)….Start working on that “three-point-set” and maybe someday you will be more Magic”ish” than anyone ever thought.
    3.Victor Oladipo…I’m surprised…and most everyone else too…who knew you “game” like one of the best “gamers” of all time – Derrick Rose, himself…yes Victor, your ultra quick… yes Victor, you dunk like no other point guard but Rose himself…but you too, Victor, just like M-C-W…can’t shoot yet, especially the three….I see weaknesses and things you need to work on…think, “play more like John Stockton” and someday you might get there…which is a scary think to think John Stockton’s true pure point guard “savvy” and those “tangibles” which eventually landed John in the HOF, despite those physical limitations…Victor, your good but “I knew John Stockton, I Loved John Stockton….and Victor you are no John Stockton”….keep working on what God has already given you though and you might just be the second coming of the next best best point guard, who wasn’t named Magic – Oh, I forgot, you were to young to watch those two, meaning – Magic and John play, but you certainly have watched and could become the next …AKA…D. Rose
    P.S. to victor….try to stay healthy

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