Rookie Rankings, Week 23: MCW is the ROY

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Philadelphia 76ers SixersFrom his first NBA game, Michael Carter-Williams took hold of the Rookie of the Year award.

He immediately grabbed the undivided attention of all of us, going for 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in Philadelphia’s improbable season-opening win over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

Before the 76ers started losing – losing frequently, losing historically – Carter-Williams directed his team to two more wins and was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Not Rookie of the Week. Player of the Week. In his first week in the NBA.

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May: The Future of Four Floundering Flagship Franchises

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We are about to witness what may be a first in the long history of the NBA. For the first time, four of the JacksonKnicksleague’s flagship franchises could well be out of the playoffs.

OK, the Knicks aren’t technically out of the race in the Hindenburg Conference, but they have a lot of ground to make up on Atlanta – four games in the loss column with 13 to play. The Celtics, Lakers and 76ers all are making plans for the 2014 draft lottery and the riches it may (or may not) provide.

Twenty years ago, the Celtics, Lakers and Sixers all missed the postseason, but the Pat Riley-coached Knicks made it all the way to the NBA Finals, losing in seven games to the Houston Rockets. That remains the best Knicks’ playoff run since the 1973 championship season (moreso than their surprising appearance in the 1999 Finals, where they were decided underdogs to the Spurs and lost in five.)

But at no time since 1949, when the Lakers entered the NBA in Minneapolis, and the 76ers came in as the Syracuse Nationals, have all four of these marquee teams been on the outside looking in when the playoffs arrived. (The Celtics and Knicks started in 1946.)

Rookie Rankings, Week 20: Who Will Impact the Playoff Push?

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While Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke chase Michael Carter-Williams for Rookie of the Year, a handful of anticother rookies are helping their teams chase postseason berths and higher seeds.

The Eastern Conference has three teams in the playoff chase whose finish will be somewhat impacted by the play of their rookies. The Western Conference has five teams in the hunt with rookies playing a prominent role.

The team relying most on rookies is undoubtedly the Atlanta Hawks, who have two rookies in their rotation as they try to hold off the New York Knicks for the final playoff berth in the East.

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Rookie Rankings, Week 19: The Philly Factor

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First, the good news. Among rookies, the top four scorers behind Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams all got a hinkierecent chance to pad their stats against the sickening 76ers.

Now, the bad news. Only one gets another chance this season.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Sixers have lost 18 straight games. The last time they won, Time Warner and Comcast hadn’t announced their merger, the Super Bowl hadn’t been played and the greatest single-take shot in television history hadn’t yet aired. 

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Rookie Rankings, Week 18: An Otto Porter Sighting

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The best thing about top overall pick Anthony Bennett’s tremendously disappointing rookie season is that it OttoPorterhas provided cover for some tremendously disappointing seasons by other rookies.

Namely, Otto Porter.

Porter was taken third in the 2013 draft by the Washington Wizards and has been worse than Bennett. Much worse.

Bennett is averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting just 35 percent from the floor. Pedestrian numbers, for sure, and unacceptable for a top pick who is expected to contribute right away.

But Bennett looks like Wilt Chamberlain compared to Porter, who is averaging 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds while shooting 30 percent. Through February, he had 37 points in 215 minutes.

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