NBA Rookie Report 2009: Rookie Awards

January 30, 2009

With the All-Star Game fast approaching, it's time to give out our Midseason Rookie Awards for this year's class.


1. Kevin Love
2. Jason Thompson
3. Brook Lopez
4. Marc Gasol

Winner? Kevin Love. In limited minutes, Love has averaged 8.4 RPG. He has had numerous double-digit efforts on the glass, and seemingly has had little trouble adjusting to the NBA's physicality in the paint. When his minutes increase, Love will certainly average 10-plus boards per game.


1. Russell Westbrook
2. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
3. Greg Oden
4. Mike Taylor

Winner? Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The Prince's versatility separates him from this group, as he can play 2's, 3's, and 4's straight-up. A true defensive demon, Mbah a Moute has been part of Coach Skiles rotation since Day One, and has largely kept first-round pick Joe Alexander on the bench.

Nominee Taylor has not played much, and might not even stick in the league, but in limited minutes he has shown great quickness at the point guard position. His nomination is based on his potential to be a defensive pest.

Oden has struggled for much of the season, but the one thing he has shown is that he could be a devastating weakside shotblocker in the years to come.


1. Rudy Fernandez
2. Russell Westbrook
3. Eric Gordon
4. O.J. Mayo

Winner? O.J. Mayo. Mayo is averaging 19.1 PPG, despite having to learn to play off the ball at the 2. He has had several 30-plus games, and has proven to be as explosive as advertised. Mayo can finish at the rim, run the point, and has a fairly consistent three-point stroke. Above all, he is a relentless worker in the gym.

Fernandez has been a great point-a-minute guy backing up Brandon Roy. He has shown a nice stroke and good athleticism. Gordon and Westbrook have proven to be reliable double-digit threats once given the minutes.


1. Russell Westbrook
2. D.J. Augustin
3. Derrick Rose
4. Mario Chalmers

Winner? Derrick Rose. Rose is a true pass-first point guard blessed with incredible athleticism. Since opening night, Rose has excelled in his role as the Bulls' floor general. His decision-making has been sound, as he has generally managed to avoid the ugly "5-6 turnover" games.

Meanwhile, Westbrook, Augustin, and Chalmers are all keepers. Westbrook, a combo guard, still has more of a scorer's mentality, but nevertheless has made strides in becoming a point guard at the NBA-level.


1. Brook Lopez
2. Jason Thompson
3. Greg Oden
4. Marc Gasol

Winner? Brook Lopez. The Nets got a steal when they nabbed this legit 7-footer with a polished offensive post-game at pick number 10. Lopez has adapted quickly to the league, and has put up solid scoring, rebounding, and shotblocking numbers. Since becoming a starter, he has been the most consistent big in this year's rookie class.

Gasol's toughness has been a nice surprise for Memphis. He is a seasoned guy who has adjusted quickly to the NBA. Small-college guy Thompson has proven that he belongs, as demonstrated by several double-doubles this year.


1. Michael Beasley
2. Greg Oden
3. Joe Alexander
4. Danilo Gallinari

Winner? Michael Beasley. Because of his high skill level, and Miami's lack of scoring, Beasley was unfairly expected to step right in and dominate. Although he has had some big nights, and has remained in the Heat's rotation, Beasley has now been demoted to a bench role.

He basically gets "heat check" minutes from his coaches. In other words, when his stroke is on, he plays. If not, he sits. Obviously, the book is still out on this guy, and he will eventually meet the expectations. The key for Beasley will be improving his physical strength, so that he might compete more evenly on defense.

Oden gets a free pass because he is coming off an injury. Plus, his numbers are starting to improve lately. Alexander and Gallinari have seen little playing time all year, but less was expected of them compared to Beasley.


1. George Hill
2. Nicolas Batum
3. Mario Chalmers
4. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Winner? Mario Chalmers. Second-rounder Chalmers has been an effective starter at point guard for the Heat. His solid play has been vital in rejuvenating the franchise's playoff hopes.

Batum also is starting for Portland, but has had more of a complementary role compared to Chalmers. Hill gave the Spurs vital minutes when Tony Parker was injured, but since Parker has returned, Hill's role has once again diminished.


1. Eric Gordon
2. Greg Oden
3. Jerryd Bayless
4. J.J. Hickson

Winner? Eric Gordon. When Cuttino Mobley was traded to New York, Gordon stopped sitting and started scoring. He has single-handedly made the Clippers semi-competitive each night, as he has had several 30-point outbursts, and one 41-point explosion. Gordon has three-point range and will attack the rim with ferocity despite his 6'3" frame.

Hickson has not been spectacular, but now is a regular part of the Cavs rotation. Bayless has recently seen more playing time in Portland, and has produced some decent numbers in those games. In the last 2 weeks, Oden finally looks to be turning the corner. During that time span, he has had several double-doubles.


1. Derrick Rose
2. O.J. Mayo
3. Russell Westbrook
4. Brook Lopez

Winner? Derrick Rose. Rose has been the league's most consistent rook, and thus far, has shown no signs of slowing down or "hitting the rookie wall." Most impressive, he has excelled at one of the game's most difficult positions, as he has played like a 7-year vet.

Mayo is the only other rook worthy of consideration. Although Mayo has been the more spectacular player, Rose has been the more consistent.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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