Bill Stafford | Sports Columnist | 03/30/2011
The NBA playoffs are right around the corner, which means go-time mode for some teams, but for others it means that a lot of rookie and bench players are getting some time. This year’s draft class was seriously hyped and most have lived up to their expectations, but who is the best candidate for the rookie of the year honors at the end of the season?
Power forward Ed Davis, who was drafted 13th overall out of North Carolina by the Toronto Raptors to help ease the pain of loosing Chris Bosh to Miami, has only averaged about 7 points per game, but has seen significant floor time with injuries to the struggling Raptors.
The New York Knicks are in a tailspin and are only 7-12 after trading for Carmelo Anthony. Currently, the Knicks are on a five-game loosing streak which only our now Kevin Love-less of the Minnesota Timberwolves has matched and beat with a six-game skid during that time.
Six foot seven Rookie guard Landry Fields out of Standford has been a positive light over the Knicks’ poor stretch by averaging 10 points, 2 assists and 6 rebounds per game and will be an important part in getting the Knicks’ season turned back around.
He has his own dance, his own song, but will first overall pick John Wall out of Kentucky bring the R.O.Y. Trophy to Washington this year? Wall averages nearly forty minutes per game for the Wizards and is one of the highest rookie scorers with a 16.1 points per game average. Wall also spreads the ball around frequently by averaging 8.6 assists. However, the Wizards have not capitalized on Wall’s success on the score board, only posting a 17-54 record this season.
Power forward Greg Monroe out of Georgetown oozes Detroit Pistons basketball. He’s a hard working 6’11”, 250 lbs. bruiser who tears down 7 rebounds a game while putting up nearly 9 points per game. He’s a defensive mismatch and has gained significant playing time averaging just over 30 minutes in his last 10 games. The Pistons, however, have had multiple issues with Richard Davis, Tracey McGrady and head coach John Kuester and have struggled to put up even a weak 26-47 record.
This next rookie has made a splash in the NBA this season and is so far the consensus No. 1 contender to bring the R.O.Y. Trophy to L.A. He averaged nearly 14 points and over 8 rebounds last pre-season, but after 2009 No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin suffered a season-ending knee injury last season, he was given his rookie eligibility back this season.
All Griffin has done this year is average 22.4 points per game along with 12 rebounds and nearly 4 assists. There is nothing average about how he does it though. Of Griffin’s 613 made field goals this season, 182 of them have been dunks.
That number of 182 is second only to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. He has 55 double doubles in 73 games and has inspired more highlight videos on YouTube than any other player this year. Griffin tears the rim down ferociously on the court, and will most likely tear the 2011 Rookie of the Year honors down with it.