Monthly Archives: December 2008

NBA in December: All Rookie Team

Even though the season is less than half over, this year’s rookie class has performed remarkably well. From top to bottom, there have been key first year contributors on good teams, bottom feeding teams, and even great teams. This list is only preliminary, because some players, such as Marresse Speights and JJ Hickson have played well in very limited minutes, while at least one of these players will regress as the grind of an 82 game season wears on, but it’s important to note that this year’s rookie class has talent, skill and a deceptive amount of experience.

Guard: Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose has been off the charts (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Derrick Rose has been off the charts (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

While everyone expected Rose to pan out, critics expected far more out of #2 pick Michael Beasley than they did of Rose, especially since he’s playing the toughest position on the court on a team loaded with established guards. But in two short months, Rose has proven to be the best of the bunch. With a crossover that teams know is coming, combined with a pass-first mentality, superior defensive prowess, and a team-first attitude, it’s only a matter of time before Rose joins Chris Paul and Deron Williams at the top of the point guard food chain.

Guard: Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez brings experience and long distance shooting (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rudy Fernandez brings experience and long distance shooting (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Like Rose, people expected Fernandez to eventually become a good NBA player, but maybe not a great NBA player. But what has been remarkable about Fernandez so far this season has been his quick adjustment to the NBA three-point line, shooting an eyelash under 40% for the year. And despite being a 23 year old rookie, Fernandez has played professionally for seven years, has been tested against a wide variety of defensive scenarios, and doesn’t need the ball in his hands all the time in order to be effective. The big thing holding him back at this point is the overall logjam of talent in Portland.

Guard: O.J. Mayo

O.J. Mayo is already an NBA quality scorer (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

O.J. Mayo is already an NBA quality scorer (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Mayo leads all rookies in scoring and PER, while being only second to Rose in minutes played. This means that Mayo is not only scoring well, but he’s doing it with far greater efficiency and consistency than normally expected from a rookie. In a way, Mayo development has been bittersweet. Scouts always spoke the world of him in high school, but as they saw more of him, the hype machine began to break down, dropping his stock to a more manageable level. I’m often concerned when scouts gush over a player, because it almost always means they haven’t seen much of him. Consider any highly touted young player. It’s rarely the case that his hype goes up while he’s under the spotlight of a nation of scouts, even if he’s consistently improving, las Mayo has been doing.

Center: Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol is a tough and skilled big man (AP Photo/Mark Weber)

Marc Gasol is a tough and skilled big man (AP Photo/Mark Weber)

Marc may have a lower ceiling than his brother Pau, but since Pau is an All-Star, that’s barely a knock against him at all. Marc is experienced from his days on the Spanish national team, able to provide a polished set of post and finishing moves, and is willing to crash the boards. So far this season, Gasol has finished 18 games with 6 or more rebounds while playing only about 29 minutes a night, which counts as a windfall, considering that he was regarded as a throw-in to the trade that sent his brother Pau to the Lakers.

Center: Greg Oden

You can win a championship with these two guys manning your frontcourt (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

You can win a championship with these two guys manning your frontcourt (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Oden may have been the most hyped draft pick since Lebron James, but he has been able to step in immediately and provide tough defense and rebounding. His offensive game isn’t very polished, and he hasn’t been able to command double teams, much less learn to pass out of them, but Portland is full of shoot first guys. Plus Portland has been handling him with the tiniest of child gloves, which should ultimately help Oden’s confidence as he grows into the center position.

Sixth Man: George Hill, Spurs

George Hill may be the biggest rookie surprise this year (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

George Hill may be the biggest rookie surprise this year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Despite a great set of pre-draft workouts, Hill has still surprised everyone by filling in heroically for the then-sinking Spurs. With Manu Ginobili out, Coach Gregg Popovich assigned Hill to take every available shot. And while giving a rookie point guard the green light to take a heaping helping of field goal attempts is usually counter productive to their overall development, Hill has blossomed for this very reason. Hill has been averaging 19 points per 40 minutes, while getting to the foul line at an absurd rate (3.8 attempts per game on a 22 minute average), which has put Hill’s confidence somewhere between the middle and the top of the stratosphere. And in many ways, giving a rookie the confidence to succeed is half the battle.

Laws for Sale

Since it’s no secret that American companies are clamoring for a life preserver to buoy them from the whirlpool of economic recession, there is a need for policymakers to expand their thought process beyond the concept of billion dollar loans and extensive borrowing.

While it is important to consider the consequences of an industrial collapse, the idea of floating loans now will result in an exponentially greater financial setback down the road. Neither on a macro or microeconomic level have we as Americans grasped the idea of spending within our means, so if we’re transferring the balance on our massive federal debt, it’s unreasonable to assume that the next generation will have learned to do anything except attempt to pass the debt onto their children and grandchildren.

If automakers are in need of over $25 billion in loans, the financial markets require a $700 billion cash injection, and countless other groups are lining up on the Capitol steps with their hats in hand, it’s apparent that more drastic measures should be considered.

One such concept to consider is the open sale of nonviolent, borderline ethical laws by private citizens. What if Bill Gates and Warren Buffet pooled together $30 billion of their own money in exchange for fewer restrictions on stem cell research? Or maybe a team of casino owners could team up to write a $25 billion check that allows for relaxed gambling laws nationwide. Certainly there could be a number that Coors, Anheuser Busch, and Miller Brewing Company would be willing to pay in order to drop the minimum drinking age to 20, and maybe an even greater number to lower it to 19.

Whether you agree or not on the aforementioned issues, tough economic times can lead to a reconsideration of our morals. After all, how many people would be willing to ban abortion if they were offered $1000 in cash on the spot? How many people would be willing to allow abortions if they were offered the same amount of cash? Remember that many of our laws are already for sale with lobbying groups as the salesmen, so why not consider the same idea on a different scale?