NBA Rookie Ratings: Rising Stars edition

February 25, 2012

By Jack Maidment

Straight to the League’s Week 6 and 7 NBA Rookie Ratings. All-Star Rising Star edition.

1. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers. The Duke man is the best rookie in the NBA this year and he showed it in the RS game last night. He is perhaps the most complete young player in the league and can do a little bit of everything. Leading the charge for Team Chuck, Irving won the game MVP and stuck up 34 points, making all 8 of his three point attempts. He was, is and will continue to be superb.

2. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves. Irving may be best in class but Rubio is a close second and his performance in the RS game was an advert for the joy of basketball. More than one big man had his fingers/face slammed by an unexpected pass and Rubio was in his element all night, putting the ball through people’s legs, throwing oops and ball faking the pants off Team Chuck. Everyone of his teammates on Team Shaq would take a pay cut to play with him.

3. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons. Knight was quiet on Friday night playing on a team with too many guards, relegated to spot up shooter on the wing; hardly his forte. Even so, Knight did some nice things and continues to show why Detroit fans should take their head out of the oven. He is going to be really good. He had 24-5-3 against the Cavs last week and routinely plays more than 35 minutes a game in a backcourt with Rodney Stuckey which actually looks like it could work.

4. Norris Cole, Miami Heat. What a steal for the Heat. Cole has all the poise of a steely veteran and showed it during the RS game in his interview with Craig Sager in which he used the word ‘professionalism’ about 30 times. I’m sure Pat Riley can’t stop smiling. Cole had 18-8 in the game itself, playing 25 minutes and his demeanour was picture perfect.

5. MarShon Brooks, New Jersey Nets. Brooks may have forgotten where he was Friday night, playing like he does when he is at the Meadowlands which basically means shooting every time he gets the ball. It’s not too often you see a player take 20 dribbles in an all-star game (Kobe) but Brooks seemed happy to disregard his teammates last night. He shot 3-10. Even so, he has been the second option all year for the Nets with no one really to pass to other than Deron Williams so shooting must be a reflex by now. Everyone knows he can score. The question is if the man from Providence will be a two-way guard in the NBA or a rich man’s Nick Young.

Injuries: Iman Shumpert.

Last week:

  1. Ricky Rubio
  2. Iman Shumpert
  3. Brandon Knight
  4. Kemba Walker
  5. Derrick Williams

NBA Rookie Ratings: Two Wolves and a Knight

February 11, 2012

By Jack Maidment

Straight to the League’s Week 5 NBA Rookie Ratings. Let’s get it.

1. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves. Rubio returns to the top spot this week in the Rookie Ratings but it was an awfully close call thanks to the strong play of Iman Shumpert. The main reason for Rubio’s rise was his ability to influence games in the past seven days when his shot wasn’t falling.

He only reached double figures scoring once in his last three but he has done other things to help his team. Against Dallas, a loss, he had 10 points but contributed 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 8 assists. Facing Memphis he scored just 4 points (1-6 from the floor) but grabbed 7 rebounds and snatched two steals. Finally, against the Kings in a win he may have only had 6 points but he also had 5 steals and 14 assists.

He brings so much to the table he can be forgiven for his temperamental jump shot.

2. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks. It seems strange to say given Shump has only been in the league just less than two months, but he went back to basics this week as the Knicks surged under the guidance of Jeremy Lin.

Asking Shumpert to run the show was a big ask but thanks to Lin he is back as a defensive specialist/slasher which is absolutely his game.

He showed how valuable he can be coming off the bench against the Lakers, running the floor and playing stellar defense on Kobe Bryant.

He had 12-2-3-2 in 26 minutes and is playing excellent team basketball. He looks comfortable. Up two.

3. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons. The Dark Knight Returns. The Piston’s point guard slipped out of the top five last week but back to back strong performances and three wins brings him back in at number three in week 5.

His minutes are fluctuating greatly of late, but when he does play he does well: In his last two games, both against the Nets, he had 13-7-5-1 and 13-2-4-1. Just play him already.

4. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats. Kemba’s back and has my sympathy. No rookie is in a tougher situation than the Uconn point guard. The Bobcats are so bad it has got to be hard to learn a whole lot getting blown out by 30 most nights. Even so, if you are a Cats fan, the reason you still attend home games is strictly Kemba.

His high point this week was a 22-3-4-1 effort against the Suns. Get yours and wait for Anthony Davis to arrive.

5. Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves. Williams had the chance to start for the Wolves this week in the absence of Kevin Love and he took advantage of the opportunity. Sort of.

He had strong games against Memphis and Sacramento, almost putting up double doubles in each (13-9 and 14-8). Maybe it’s because he is so athletic you want more, but Williams is getting there, gradually figuring out how to get his shot off in the NBA and learning where he can be most effective. Hint: not from behind the arc.

Sneakers and Creepers: Kawhi Leonard

Dropouts: Isaiah Thomas, Jimmy Butler.

Injuries: Kyrie Irving (concussion)

Last week:

  1. Kyrie Irving
  2. Ricky Rubio
  3. Isaiah Thomas
  4. Iman Shumpert
  5. Jimmy Butler

Sneakers and Creepers: None. It was tough last week

Dropouts: Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight, Derrick Williams.

Injuries: MarShon Brooks.

 


NBA Rookie Ratings: Williams joins Rubio

January 28, 2012

By Jack Maidment

Straight to the League’s Week 3 NBA Rookie Ratings. Let’s get it.

1. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves. As of next week these rankings will probably be renamed the Ricky Rubio Ratings. Or something similar but a bit snappier. Third week, third top spot, and the scary thing for all the other rookies in the league is that he is statistically better and visibly more comfortable than last week. The Wolves have won their last two since resigning Kevin Love and Rubio was instrumental in both.

Against the Dallas Mavericks Rubio played 46 minutes and poured in 17 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists (!) and 4 steals. Two nights later against the San Antonio Spurs he had 18-10. He is really good. What more can you say.

2. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons. I have to confess I didn’t think I would be writing about Knight in this column. No knock on the Kentucky man, more about how I feel about the Pistons and their surplus of guards – hardly a great situation for a rookie point guard.

But Knight has pushed his way to the top of the rotation, playing at least 33 minutes in each of his last three and Knight has made the most of the court time with some excellent performances in three Piston losses this week. His best showing was a 42 minute effort against the Atlanta Hawks where he had 20-5-8 and zero turnovers.

He deserves the number two spot in the ratings. (MarShon Brooks who was second last week injured his Achilles’ this week, hence the no show).

3. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte are probably the least watchable team in the NBA right now but Kemba Walker is doing his best to make their play more palatable. His minutes are gradually going up and he is trying to make the best of the situation. The problem for Walker is the lack of talent that surrounds him.

That’s why his assist numbers are low and his field goal % isn’t exactly swell. But still. Considering where he is and who he is with and the fact he’s not going to be on the winning team too often this year, he is doing a sterling job. Up two.

4. Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves. To clarify: I am not a Timberwolves fan. I just think Rubio is great and Williams has had a good week. Ok? Good. Now stop rolling your eyes. Truth be told Williams doesn’t get too many minutes because of all the wings in Minnesota but when he has got in this week he has done well.

He has at least 10 points in his last three games with a handful of rebounds and he does a great job off the bench. What I will say is there is no way Williams is a small forward. No way. Which raises questions down the road what with Kevin Love now locked up. Even so, fourth in the ratings is a good start. Let’s Go Wolves. Wait. What?

5. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie dropped to fourth last week and he slips a little more after a tough stretch for his Cavaliers. He is in a similar situation to Kemba Walker in that if he doesn’t do it for his team it isn’t getting done. Irving had a typical atypical week. Typical in that he has been inconsistent, as many rookies are prone to be, but atypical in the huge difference between his best game and his worst.

The best: 32-6-2 with one turnover against New Jersey. The worst: a 1-7 shooting night against the Knicks. Boom and bust. I wrote last week I don’t see Kyrie dropping out of the top 5 and despite a tough week for him, I stand by that.

Sneakers and Creepers: Chandler Parsons.

Drop Outs: Iman Shumpert. New York’s poor play finally caught up with their versatile rookie.

Last week:

  1. Ricky Rubio
  2. MarShon Brooks
  3. Iman Shumpert
  4. Kyrie Irving
  5. Kemba Walker

Sneakers and Creepers: Kahwi Leonard.


NBA Rookie Ratings: Rubio remains, Brooks rises

January 21, 2012

By Jack Maidment

Straight to the League’s Week 2 NBA Rookie Ratings. Enjoy.

1. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves. On Friday against the Clippers Rubio missed his first 10 shots before hitting a game tying three pointer to set up Kevin Love’s buzzer beater for a Wolves’ win.

He shot the corner three in front of the LA bench without any hesitation, despite his struggles from the floor. He still had 9-6-6 in 32 minutes as well as three steals and a block. The game proved that even when the Spaniard’s shot isn’t falling he can contribute and get it done in other ways.

As a result of his versatility Minnesota is enjoying a three game winning streak and escaping the NBA’s basement for the first time in what seems like an age. He was on top of the Rookie Ratings last week and he deserves to stay there.

2. MarShon Brooks. New Jersey Nets. Brooks continues to shoot the ball well for a truly awful Nets team. Last week he was 4th in the Ratings but his play has warranted a two spot jump.

He is averaging 15 points a game as well as four rebounds and a couple of assists but he has upped his performance on the glass this past week grabbing about 8 boards a game in his last three. In a win over the Golden State Warriors Brooks had 22-8-6, a glimpse of what he should become. He looks to be one of the steals of the draft.

3. Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks. It’s not Shumpert’s fault he plays for a schizophrenic Knicks team. One week they are ripping off a five game winning streak then they lose their next five. Iman is down one in the Ratings this week due to a little inconsistency; his play has mirrored that of his up and down team. It will be interesting to see how the rookie’s production changes when Baron Davis returns.

4. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers. Down one this week after a monumental beat down by the Chicago Bulls who played without Derrick Rose on Friday night. Even so, the #1 pick has continued to figure the NBA out and his leadership and on floor production this week are testament to that.

Aside from the débâcle in Chicago where things got ugly early (not Irving’s fault) he played two solid games against the Warriors (a loss, but 18-5-8) and the Bobcats (a win, 25-4-7). He is going to be in the mix in the NBA Rookie Ratings all year. I don’t see him dropping out.

5. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats. Man the Bobcats suck, but at least they have started giving Kemba some serious minutes. As a result the Uconn guard has cracked the top five of the Ratings for the first time, as well as injecting some life and excitement into a moribund franchise. He has scored at least 14 in his last three, including 23 in a win over the Warriors.

Sneakers and Creepers: Kahwi Leonard.

Last week:

  1. Ricky Rubio
  2. Iman Shumpert
  3. Kyrie Irving
  4. MarShon Brooks
  5. Norris Cole

Sneakers and Creepers: Markieff Morris, Jon Leuer.

 


Starting Five: The week’s best NBA players

January 11, 2012

Kobe hung 48 on the Suns this week. Face.

By Jack Maidment

The Week’s Best

@Kobe Bryant. Doing anything he can to get wins for the Lakers. Including hanging 48 points on the Phoenix Suns. He did take 31 shots but Los Angeles took the win, 99-83. Like he says, scorers gonna score.

@Evan Turner. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesaday. His team got the win, 112-85. The Sixers are 7-2, their best start since Allen Iverson led them to The Finals in 2000-01.

@Ricky Rubio. Last three games: averaging more than 30 minutes on the floor, he has had 12, 6 and 14 assists with at least 10 points – 32 assists and 12 turnovers in total during that period. He also posted 7 steals and at least 4 rebounds each game. Regardless of the statistics he has made the Minnesota Timberwolves relevant and must watch television.

@LaMarcus Aldridge. The Portland Trailblazer’s best player has been getting it done this season, leading his team to a 7-2 record, 6-0 at home. The Blazer’s are deep but Aldridge is the man who gets things done when they really need a score. They are the best team in the West right now and a lot of that is because of Aldridge.

@Nate Robinson. Picked up by Golden State, Robinson has been a fire cracker off the bench and excellent value Stephen Curry insurance. He scored 24 against the Miami Heat on Wednesday in a Warriors OT win, 111-106. Bargain.


Ricky Rubio Is Worth Your Attention

January 7, 2010

by Jack Maidment

Fans have never watched him play and yet many, simple and plain, dislike the kid.

Why?

Because Ricky Rubio jilted the NBA.

He broke the rules and people are just not happy about it.

It’s a lot like the hottest girl at school getting stood up at the prom. Feet will be stomped and screams will be heard.

The NBA fan has had it good for so long that the Rubio Denial (trademark please) could only elicit one response from the people:

Ron Burgundy: ‘Don’t you know who I am?”

It’s the NBA Ricky. Nobody says no.

You just got asked out by a robo-babe. A super hot Baberaham Lincoln and you said no.

This is inconceivable for an American centred NBA fan, but if you take an international perspective, why would he go (young guy, already making millions of dollars, in the country of his birth)?

Eventually he will go, but his reception will be frosty. At least at first. And then he will play, and everything will change.

Because the talent that Ricky Rubio exhibits now, as a 19 year old, is unbelievable; and he is only going to get better.

In the world of media hype it is easy to wave that assertion away. So many players get blown up young, only to ultimately fail, so why take note of the boy from Spain?

Just watch him play. Go on. The internet makes it easy.

Go to ACB.com, figure out the Spanish and eventually you’ll find streams of full games. Click on Regal Barcelona, Ricky’s team, and enjoy the performance of a truly exciting and raw player who will eventually make a monumental impact on the NBA.

His most recent, an 87-65 victory over Bizkaia Bilbao, showed why Rubio deserves the attention of basketball fans around the world.

I challenge you. Watch him play and tell me you don’t love his game. If you love the game you will, guaranteed, love Ricky.

On one play he crossed his man, drove to his right, drawing the attention of the entire defense, before no-look passing over his head to his big man cutting from the left wing for the dunk.

Words do not do it justice.

The way that he sees the court and the resulting plays that he makes look so easy, he makes you go ‘ooooooooooooooooooooooooh’ like you would after really, really cool fireworks.

His offense earns so much praise, especially on fast break, that his D is entirely forgotten about. That is a huge injustice for a player who exhibits way above average hustle, desire and ability when defending.

His 6’5 body allows him to be physical with the smaller guys while his speed and quick feet make him a total pest. Rubio is a serial stealer. Over and over again. Steal. Fast Break. Awesome Pass. Points.

If you are an NBA fan, watch him play and then imagine how good he could be with super-athletic wing players running the break with him.

Hold that thought.

Now tell me you aren’t compelled to send an email to your team’s GM demanding he make a trade for Ricky Rubio, even if he wont be playing in America for at least a year and a half (his contract allows him to be bought out at the end of the 2011 season for a manageable $1.4 million).

He will eventually elect to make the pilgrimage to the NBA and when he does the jilt will be quickly forgotten.


Ricky Rubio to remain in Spain, signs for Regal Barcelona

September 1, 2009

rixckyby Jack Maidment

Spain’s prodigal son, Ricky Rubio, will be remaining in his homeland for at least the next year, probably two, before heading to the NBA.

Despite the prolonged negotiations between DKV Joventut and the Minnesota Timberwolves an agreement could not be reached. Ultimately it came down to the fact that the Wolves were legally prohibited from contributing a substantial enough amount toward Rubio’s ridiculous buyout clause which hovers somewhere around $5 Million.

Considering that the point guard earned less than $100,000 last year, the amount written into his contract to release him would appear to be obscene enough to be overturned by some court in the land, but apparently enough.

With the Wolves bound tightly by the law, Rubio will instead be playing his basketball for Regal Barcelona who have agreed to Joventut’s buyout numbers making Rubio the most expensive transfer in European basketball history.

The fact that Barcelona have agreed to pay such a fee for his services suggests that they expect/demand Rubio to remain in Spain for the foreseeable future.

If that is the case, Minnesota must place their hope in Johnny Flynn, the second point guard that they elected to pick in the Draft Lottery. The clarification of Rubio’s status officially puts the pressure on the Syracuse man to perform: their will be no help from Europe just yet.