Rookie Rankings, Week 17: Can the Best Rookie Come From the Worst Team?

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We asked this question in our last edition of the Rookie Rankings: Can a player from a 65-loss team win Rookie of Elton Brand and Metta World Peacethe Year?

The answer: One already has.

In the 1999-2000 season, the Chicago Bulls were continuing their rebuilding following the second retirement of Michael Jordan and went 17-65. One of their few bright spots was a young power forward named Elton Brand, who averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds and shared Rookie of the Year honors with Houston’s Steve Francis.

But Brand is not an outlier. In the draft lottery era, he is among five players who have won Rookie of the Year playing for 60-loss teams, and there are another two winners whose squads went 23-59.

For example, Kevin Durant was the 2008 Rookie of the Year – and led the Seattle SuperSonics to a sterling 20-62 mark. In 2005, Emeka Okafor outpolled both Dwight Howard and Sixth Man Award winner Ben Gordon despite an 18-64 record by his Charlotte Bobcats.

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Eisenberg: Projecting Dennis Schröder’s Translation to the NBA with Analytics

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In Elton Brand’s 14 NBA seasons, the two-time All Star has played alongside some of the league’s most respected point guards. From Sam Cassell to pre-injury Shaun Livingston to Andre Miller to Jrue Holiday, Brand has grown accustomed to excellence from his floor generals.

So when Brand signed with Atlanta over the summer and was told to check out the highlight reel for his new teammate, a 19-year-old who had been nicknamed “Baby Rondo,” he was understandably skeptical of the moniker.

“People were like, ‘This kid’s just like a young (Rajon) Rondo,’” Brand said. “And I was like, ‘Come on, guys. You can’t compare him to Rondo just because they both have long arms.’”

However, after two weeks of practicing with the now-20-year-old Dennis Schröder , Brand has been won over:

“I was wrong,” Brand admitted. “I can definitely see where those comparisons come from now. It’s uncanny.”

Ask around the Hawks’ locker room and the consensus is clear: Schröder is not your typical 20-year-old. 

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SH Blog: J.R. Smith out for 3-4 months after patellar tendon surgery, Jennings to Detroit being discussed

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Metta World PeaceEver since reports surfaced that Metta World Peace would be amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers, his name has been tied to one team that has shown the greatest interest in attaining the forward: the New York Knicks.

Although World Peace expressed interest in the idea of playing overseas in China for a while, he received an offer worth staying for from the Knicks and has agreed to join them on Monday. ESPN has details:

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Evening News: Metta World Peace to the Knicks; Hawks sign Elton Brand

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Hello and welcome to the Evening News.

As free agency continues, we’ll keep you updated every night.

What’s happening today?

Mighty Moke’s Top 25 Remaining Free Agents — July 14 Update

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Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings

When Monday morning rolls around and the NBA free agency period continues, the biggest winner over the weekend will not be Metta World Peace and it will not be Jeff Teague.

Brandon Jennings is now the man with much of the power.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the Atlanta Hawks decided to match the four-year, $32 million offer sheet that Teague signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. As a result, Teague will remain a Hawk for the foreseeable future, and will be paid rather handsomely to do so.

The $32 million deal Teague will play under represents fair market value for a young point guard who is coming off of his most productive season, where he helped the Atlanta Hawks to a sixth straight postseason appearance while averaging 14.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists per game.

But now, the Bucks will have to answer to Jennings—who reportedly told the Bucks that it would take $12 million a year for him to re-sign a multi-year extension with them.

The message to Jennings was sent, his team preferred another man. And now that Teague is back in Atlanta, the Bucks face the very real possibility of Jennings, having felt alienated by the club, not backing off from his salary demands. As it stands, Jennings still has the option of accepting the Bucks one-year qualifying offer worth $4.5 million, and may become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Los Angeles Lakers—Jennings’ hometown team—will have cap space to throw at him if they choose to do so.

For the Bucks, herein lies the quandary: attracting young free agents to Milwaukee may prove difficult, and sometimes, especially for a small market NBA team, it is better to love the one you are with if you cannot be with the one you love. In other words, the Bucks may be better off trying to come to a long-term agreement with Jennings rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.

There are arguments both for and against retaining Jennings, though $12 million may be too high of a number. Either way, eyes will now be firmly fixed on Jennings’ free agency and how his situation with the Bucks plays out. Obviously, a sign-and-trade deal remains a possibility, as well. Maybe even the likeliest one.

Metta World Peace

Metta World Peace

The other major news to come out of this past weekend was Metta World Peace’s clearing amnesty waivers without being claimed.

As of 5:00pm ET on Sunday, World Peace became an unrestricted free agent and is expected to sign with either the Los Angeles Clippers or New York Knicks. The more time elapses, the more team names seem to be added to the list of his potential landing spots, but World Peace’s father has, Ron, Sr., has been steadfast in saying that he believes World Peace would end up with the Knicks if he cleared. And he did.

The Knicks—who suddenly have a much less talented roster than the Brooklyn Nets do—need to make a splash and their poor cap situation and dearth of tradable assets means they need to get lucky in order to do so. Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Jeremy Tyler, both of whom are competing for the Knicks summer league team in Las Vegas, have both had their moments. But the third tier of free agents—such as World Peace—is where the Knicks need to have some sort of success if they are to repeat as Atlantic Division champions for the first time since they won back-to-back division titles in 1993 and 1994.

With Nikola Pekovic all but certain to re-sign in Minnesota on a four-year deal worth $50 million and Monta Ellis agreeing to terms with the Dallas Mavericks, Teague’s offer being matched by the Hawks means that Jennings is now our number one free agent on the market. There still is an abundance of talent out there, though, and quite a few guys are still getting some attention.

Dejuan Blair, No. 21 on our list, is reportedly receiving some interest from the Washington Wizards while Nate Robinson, who has had conversations with multiple teams, sounds to be close to signing with the Denver Nuggets.

Mo Williams, Aaron Brooks, Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand are still out there, as well.

One other name, who is no longer available, is Wesley Johnson. The Los Angeles Lakers, obviously the biggest losers in this year’s free agent market, continue their makeover after losing Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets. The Lakers are reportedly wooing Lamar Oodom for a potential return and have followed up the signings of Nick Young, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar with another veteran’s minimum signing—Wesley Johnson.

Johnson was selected with the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft, and the Lakers hope to tap into his potential and get something out of him.

In the meantime, how’s about a little love for the biggest winners this offseason? We will rank them soon enough, but after the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets, a round of applause is in order (though in no particular order) for the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers, and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Here are your updated free agency rankings…

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