We ran a weekly Rookie Rankings this season, and while the Rookie of the Year was decided sometime before the All-Star break, it remained to be seen who would join Portland’s Damian Lillard among the NBA’s top five rookies.
I don’t have a vote but I am hoping to influence his thought process with my choices, which are below.
If not, I am hoping I will make him laugh with my snotty remarks.
Let’s get to it.
A dozen teams have played at least half their schedule and another seven will join them today, when the most of the most significant holidays in this country’s history becomes the season’s unofficial midway point.
So Dr. Martin Luther King Day is as good a time as any to examine the current front-runners for the annual awards. Included are links to both our staff’s preseason picks and the current rankings.
And as always, we’ve included snide remarks if/when necessary.
This is perhaps the most difficult award for media members, because every season there are dozens of candidates and almost as many parameters for what constitutes improved.
A case in point came last season, when the media clearly voted for the wrong guy.
LeBron James won his second straight NBA Player of the Week award Monday. Kenneth Faried didn’t.
Last week’s winners were James, the superstar of the Miami Heat, and Faried, the emerging young forward of the Denver Nuggets. This week it is James – for the record 39th time in his career – and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
James is practically making a mockery of the award. The Eastern Conference winner led the Heat to a 3-1 record while averaging a league-best 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists.
James scored 32 of his season-high 38 points in the second half of a 113-110 win at Houston and had 27 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and three blocks in a 98-93 win at Denver without injured sidekick Dwyane Wade.
Durant powered the Thunder to a 3-1 mark, averaging 28.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.75 steals and 1.75 blocks. That well-rounded play produced the first triple-double of Durant’s career as he collected 25 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 119-109 win over Golden State.
Other nominees included Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Detroit’s Greg Monroe, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, New York’s Raymond Felton, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Portland’s Nicolas Batum, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon.