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Re: '12 All things Heat thread
Originally Posted by Jace
Need help from an ESPN Insider subscriber. Coach Thorpe has a piece ranking the rooks. Guess who is no. 1. His name rhymes with Porous Mole...
But yeah, if you could post that, that would be greaaat...
Here it is if you're still looking for it..
With no summer league and a shortened training camp/preseason schedule, this season's rookies are faced with tougher challenges compared to most classes. But don't expect any sympathy. Either they make progress and build trust from their coaches, or they lose minutes and fall out of the rotation or go to the D-League. With just a few games under their belts, here's what I've seen from some of the members of this year's class.
ROOKIE 50 RANKINGS
We're keeping track of every NBA rook. Here are the latest Top 50 rankings.
Rank Player Stock
1 Norris Cole
2 Kemba Walker
3 Tristan Thompson
4 Kyrie Irving
5 Brandon Knight
6 Ricky Rubio
7 Jimmer Fredette
8 Chris Singleton
9 Derrick Williams
10 Kawhi Leonard
• Click here for the complete rankings »
Norris Cole, Heat
Every season is a reminder that talent alone is typically not enough to earn a rookie playing time. Especially late-first-round picks, who struggle for minutes on playoff teams. Getting them in the mix often requires a hole in the rotation and a coach who is an early adapter to players (many coaches need months before trusting a young player), not to mention the right personnel around the rookie.
For Cole, it's check, check and check. When Eddie House was waived -- thanks in no small part to Erik Spoelstra recognizing quickly that Cole is not your typical rookie -- the rotation hole opened up. And Cole filled that hole with confidence and delivered numerous big plays all game against Boston on Tuesday.
I love his feel for the game and his comfort in playing quickly but never in a hurry. But before we go too far in praising him, here's a reality check: A number of his makes were long 2s. In other words, he'll be more valuable if those shots become 3s, and less valuable if he misses as many long 2s over time as most guards do.
He reigns supreme in Week 1, however, because no other rookie has already been a hero in a win over a good team in a frenzied atmosphere on national TV. And no other rookie is playing alongside two superstars who are thanking Santa today for their young Christmas present from Cleveland State.
Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves
It's fair to question Rubio's talent for scoring; I, too, remain concerned that he's lost some of his ability (and confidence) to make shots and get buckets. But there is no way to question his ability to move the ball, push the pace and make astounding assists. Rubio is the definition of a point guard, as he can make people better by getting them the ball in position to make the easiest basket possible.
Of all the players I watched on tape this week, I enjoyed watching him the most. And we should consider this: In the new NBA, where players feel emboldened more than ever to pick their team without considering only salary, Rubio will be a magnet for free agents.
Brandon Knight, Pistons
Though many of his stats came late in a blowout, Knight might have had the single-best game for a rookie in Week 1. He torched the Cavs with excellent long-range shooting, gorgeous floaters and some nice ball movement that ended up as assists.
However, only one of his six assists came from a paint bucket, and that happened after a defensive breakdown, not from dribble penetration from Knight. Seeing him make floaters is great, seeing him dish for buckets on hard drives would be even better. I've been high on him since I scouted him for our draft blog last year, and he's showing signs of real talent.
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers
Matched up against Brandon Knight in the Cavs' second game, Irving may have lost the individual stats battle but his team won and, more importantly, he showed off even more potential than Knight did.
Irving gave us glimpses of D-Wade's backboard jumper from the left angle, John Wall's racing to the rim, Rajon Rondo's deceleration move in transition, Steve Nash's one-legged floater and Russell Westbrook's interest in chasing down a rebound out of the area.
Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers
After watching TT's first game, my initial thought was: "He has no idea what he's doing, but he's terrific." That is the sign of true talent.
Thompson constantly ran to the front of the rim in his debut. He played to his size, length and explosiveness, rather than shrinking from it, and used his athletic gifts to earn free throw opportunities.
Marcus Morris, Rockets
Thanks to a logjam on the wing and an injury to Patrick Patterson, Morris, whom the Rockets see as someone who can ultimately play both forward spots, got a few first-half minutes in Orlando as a backup power forward. Unfortunately, he launched two long shots in the game that I thought he would have been better off using a shot-fake attack move instead.
If Morris wants to follow Al-Farouq Aminu's path as a rookie last season, then he'll settle for long shots most of the time. But he'd be wiser to use his considerable skills to make plays attacking the rim.
Jimmer Fredette, Kings
Fredette fits right in with what the Kings are doing -- flying up and down the court, launching shots quickly and not passing often. He has the ability to make tough shots, obviously, but how often? I think he'd be better served being a little more patient and looking for a better shot for himself or a teammate.
Like a lot of rookies, he's also struggling to finish as the help defense arrives near the rim. Better players figure this part of the game out, so it's important for Jimmer to do the same. It's not about creating shots, it's about making them.
Derrick Williams, Timberwolves
Williams beasts it every minute on the floor, but it's clear he's better off near the rim right now than away from it. Inside, he uses strength and feel to get a good look at the rim or a dunk. Outside, he's slow and methodical and easy to guard coming from a help position; he might lead the league in charges after two games.
Williams missed all of his perimeter shots in his first two games, each one off the front of the rim. I think he'll be a good shooter, but it may take a while to see this.
Enes Kanter, Jazz
It's great that he grabbed 11 rebounds in his first game, but the Jazz cannot be happy with what they saw from him. No, not because he only made one of his seven shot attempts. It was his lack of interest in going to the rim to rebound. If he was hanging around the basket area, then he'd rebound. But too often I saw him defending on the perimeter until a shot was taken, then stand and watch the game, hoping the Jazz would get the ball so he could run down and score.
Part of this might be conditioning issues, as he looked heavy to me. But the bottom line is he's got to be an eager rebounder after every shot.
Kemba Walker, Bobcats
Lesson No. 1 for Kemba is simple: Never take a bad shot when there are more than six seconds left on the shot clock. This isn't college, and there are other guys on this team who can score.
Lesson No. 2: Rebounding from your position will always get you more minutes on the floor. He had seven boards in his rookie debut. And when he wasn't forcing up bad shots, he was taking good ones, while taking care of the ball as well. Kemba played under control while organizing the offense and was a big help in getting his team a big win over the Bucks on Monday.
Markieff Morris, Suns
I liked what I saw from Morris when he got paint touches, because he played with strength and patience. That's important, as I know he'll be a guy who can stretch defenses -- he's an excellent shooter. But the game is still too fast for him as a defender, partially because he's too upright on that side of the floor.
He also learned a simple NBA rule when getting back on defense -- race to the rim first before guarding someone on the perimeter, or risk giving up an uncontested dunk. Which he did against Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Chris Singleton, Wizards
Singleton hasn't been special, but he's been solid amid lots of apathy in Washington. He looks huge for a small forward, even in the NBA, but moved his feet and used his size to make a difference on a bad defensive team.
His made 3-pointer is also something we'll see more of than you'd expect from someone that big and athletic. He looks great shooting the ball.
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
Leonard has earned early playing time thanks to his natural feel for the game; he always seems to know where to be on the court. His decision-making, however, is another story. Shooting early-in-the-clock 3s, not swinging the ball to Matt Bonner for the 3 and shooting it himself, or hanging on the perimeter when he has a lane to cut to the rim for a dunk -- all mistakes, but correctable ones that will show up on film study.
On a positive note, his length on defense translated to some nice steals as a helper and his huge hands cradled rebounds in traffic.
Marshon Brooks, Nets
Two things jumped out at me watching Brooks play: (1) I loved his activity, especially on the offensive glass and on defense some, and (2) he was a ball stopper on offense.
The latter is never a good thing to be as a rookie. His first step was quick, but too often it came after he held the ball for a bit.
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Simply put, I thought Thompson looked lost when he was on the floor. Going into each game with a plan is smart, and it did not appear he had one in his first two appearances.