NBA Rookie Rankings 11/19/10

November 19, 2010

This year's rookie class features two franchise-level players -- Blake Griffin and John Wall -- destined for multiple All Star appearances over the coming years. Interestingly, Griffin is not the only ray of hope on the Clippers roster, as two of his rookie teammates also look like keepers.

In fact, LA suddenly has found itself with an exciting young nucleus in Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and this season's three rooks. Conspicuously absent from that list is Baron Davis, who continues to struggle with his conditioning and injuries.

Meanwhile, the rookie riches have also been enjoyed by the league's elite, as playoff-bound San Antonio has received quality support from a pair of sweet-shooting, first-year perimeter players.

Here is our first edition of rookie rankings for the 2010-2011 NBA season:

1. Blake Griffin -- Los Angeles Clippers

Pegged by many as the Rookie of the Year, Griffin has lived up to the hype by averaging a double-double (16 PPG, 10 RPG). Perhaps the most athletic 4 in the NBA, Griffin has been a nightmare for opponents with his thunderous finishes, post moves, and explosive, second-leaps on the offensive glass.

Although everyone knew his work ethic and physical gifts would be off the charts, many have been surprised by his overall floor game, as Griffin has occasionally led the break and delivered dimes to his teammates in transition.

More importantly, Griffin already has asserted a verbal leadership role, as he has demanded accountability from the rest of the Clips. His recent 26-point, 17-board effort is just the tip of the iceberg for this impressive talent.

2. John Wall -- Washington Wizards

The co-favorite for Rookie of the Year, Wall was enjoying a stellar rookie campaign before suffering a minor foot injury. At the time, Wall already had put together a few monster games, including a recent 19-point, 10-board, 13-assist gem of a triple-double. Similar to Griffin, he is a nightly double-double threat (18 PPG, 9.8 APG).

An absolute blur in transition, Wall has ignited the Wizards' fast break this season with his trademark quick push up the floor. In addition, the Wizards have received an unexpected surprise with his defense, as Wall currently leads the league in steals with over 3 per contest.

3. Eric Bledsoe -- Los Angeles Clippers

Thus far, Bledsoe has been the steal of the draft. When veterans Baron Davis and Randy Foye became injured, Bledsoe immediately filled the void by putting up multiple double-figure scoring games and tallying assists.

Initially viewed as an inexperienced project, Bledsoe has proven to be ahead of the curve with his fearless playmaking skills. Often the quickest guy on the floor, Bledsoe can consistently break down his man and create. Moreover, when he gets fouled, he shoots over 80% from the stripe.

Bledsoe's performance has shown the Clippers' brass that he projects as a legit future starter at the point. Given the team's current losing streak and rapidly dimming playoff hopes, his emergence has made the disappointing Baron Davis somewhat expendable. Expect Davis to be packaged in a deal this year, provided there is a taker for his large contract.

4. Landry Fields -- New York Knicks

Fields' 21-point, 17-board performance this week was a high point in a solid rookie season for this Stanford alum. In fact, Fields already had become a success story by defying the odds and earning a starting job as a second round pick.

The smooth Fields may not be a future superstar like Wall or Griffin, but he certainly could develop into a quality complementary role player in the Knicks rotation. Fields is averaging 10 points per game on 58% shooting from the floor. He also is averaging 6.7 rebounds per contest.

5. DeMarcus Cousins -- Sacramento Kings

Although the Kings recently demoted Cousins to their second unit, this big rookie center from Kentucky nevertheless continues to make an impact. A bruising player with diverse offensive skills, Cousins is at his best when he overwhelms opposing bigs through his sheer activity and physical play.

Cousins competes with a genuine passion, resulting in a healthy 6.6 rebounds per game in limited minutes. Cousins also has shown a knack for scoring, as he averages 10 points per game.

6. Evan Turner -- Philadelphia 76ers

As the second overall pick in the draft, Turner will be burdened throughout the year by high expectations and unfair comparisons to John Wall. Thus far, Turner has met those expectations with mixed results.

At times, Turner has struggled with his outside shooting and has produced several low-scoring efforts. On the other hand, he has earned a regular spot in the Sixers starting lineup and has displayed a solid overall floor game.

Turner currently is averaging an outstanding 6.8 boards per game, many of which have come while playing at the 2. He also has proven to be a decent scoring threat for Philly, averaging nearly 10 points per game, including a couple of 16-point efforts.

7. Al-Farouq Aminu -- Los Angeles Clippers

After a poor showing in summer league, expectations were somewhat tempered for this raw, athletic lottery pick. That all changed however, when Aminu got the starting nod this week and played significant minutes at the 3.

Aminu took advantage of the opportunity, putting up several double-figure scoring performances and showing good energy in transition. In addition, he showed improvement with his inconsistent jumper by nailing several treys during this stretch.

Aminu is currently hitting 54% of his three-point shots, and appears to have won the starting job at small forward over veteran Ryan Gomes.

8. Derrick Favors -- New Jersey Nets

In limited minutes with the Nets second unit, the athletic Favors has been outstanding on the glass, averaging 6.6 rebounds per contest. When Favors does get the rare chance to score, he usually makes the most of it by shooting at a 53% clip.

Coach Avery Johnson is bringing this young talent along slowly by making him first earn his keep on the boards. As he continues to gain Avery's trust, expect Favors to eventually crack the starting lineup at the 4, and perhaps, to have a few set plays run for him.

9. Wesley Johnson -- Minnesota Timberwolves

With forwards Michael Beasley and Kevin Love having career years, Johnson's touches have been somewhat limited. Still, the athletic Johnson has done some good things this year for coach Kurt Rambis, as he has beaten out former lottery pick Corey Brewer for the starting job at the 2.

Johnson has made the most of his limited opportunities by averaging 9.9 points per game.

10. Gary Neal -- San Antonio Spurs

Neal has maintained a regular spot in the Spurs rotation thanks to his 45% marksmanship from three-point land. A late bloomer who spent time in Europe before joining the NBA, Neal should see increased playing time now that fellow rookie teammate James Anderson will be out several weeks with an injury.

Honorable Mention:

Greg Monroe -- Detroit Pistons
Paul George -- Indiana Pacers
James Anderson -- San Antonio Spurs
Xavier Henry -- Memphis Grizzlies
Devin Ebanks -- Los Angeles Lakers
Ish Smith -- Houston Rockets
Gary Forbes -- Denver Nuggets

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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