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Report: Tyreke Evans to be named ROY

Per Sactown Royalty…

Tyreke Evans will be named the NBA’s 2009-10 Rookie of the Year later this week, Sactown Royalty has learned.

The announcement is expected Thursday or Friday. The Kings nor the NBA have announced Evans’s victory, and the team has not yet alerted the media of a press conference later this week.

In my prediction post, I said the following:

I think this is a two-man race between Evans and Jennings. Evans’ numbers are better than Curry’s and his team is a little better, so if we’re going to go with a good player on a bad team, it should be Evans.

As for Jennings, his case depends how much importance we place on a team’s record and how responsible the player is for that record. It’s funny — a good record is crucial in winning the league MVP, but for ROY, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. Why is that?

In the end, I think Evans will win Rookie of the Year. Given the history of the award, if a player clearly has the superior numbers, winning just doesn’t matter. That’s the case here.

Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists to become the first rookie since LeBron James to average 20-5-5 in his rookie season. (Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan are the only other players to accomplish this feat.)

Both Evans and Curry posted eye-popping numbers, but did any rookie have a bigger impact on the 2009-10 NBA season than Brandon Jennings? Even though his FG% fell off a cliff, he still posted pretty good numbers, and guided the upstart Bucks to the #6 playoff spot in the East.

Based on the criteria that picked previous award winners, Evans is very deserving. But when we look back on this season’s rookie class, I think we’ll remember Jennings’ leadership, Evans’ 20-5-5, Curry’s stretch run and Blake Griffin’s knee injury, in that order.


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Who will win Rookie of the Year?

It’s that time of year again. Let’s try to figure out who will win this year’s Rookie of the Year…

Brandon Jennings jumped out in the ROY race with a 22-4-6 average in October and November, while shooting 43% from the field and 50% from three-point land. This included an epic 55-point outing against the Golden State Warriors in which Jennings hit 21 of 34 shots, including 7-for-8 from behind the arc. Since then, he is averaging 14-3-6 and is shooting just 35% from the field and 36% from 3PT. He has struggled with scoring from inside the arc, but he leads all rookies in assists and has a pretty nice assist-to-turnover ratio — 2.41, but he has posted a 2.72 ratio since the start of December. Maybe most importantly, the Bucks are 41-32 and are in the #5 spot in the East.

Tyreke Evans overtook Jennings with a 22-5-5 December and hasn’t looked back. On the season, he is averaging 20-5-6, and is shooting 46% from the field. He’s on the verge of joining LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only players to average 20-5-5 in their rookie seasons. However, the Kings have the 6th-worst record in the league and have been out of the playoff hunt for some time. This is both good and bad for Evans’ stats. On one hand, the Kings are so bad that he has to be the clear focal point of the offense — unlike Jennings, he doesn’t have to get the ball to Andrew Bogut or John Salmons — but the fact that the Kings are so bad means that defenses can focus on stopping him.

And then there’s Stephen Curry, whom NBA.com’s Drew Packham lists first in his rookie rankings. Since the start of December, he has averaged 18-5-6, while shooting 47% from the field and 44% from long range. And he keeps getting better. In February and March, he averaged 21-5-7. But at 21-52, the Warriors are even worse than the Kings. In fact, Golden State is tied for second third in fewest wins this season.

One thing that pure averages don’t account for is a team’s pace (i.e. the average # of possessions a team has during the course of a game). Is it fair to compare Jennings’ numbers to Curry’s when the Bucks are #18 in overall pace and the Warriors are #1? Using the league average of 95.15 possessions, here is a look at the pace-adjusted numbers for each player, along with John Hollinger’s PER:

All due respect to Mr. Packham, I think this is a two-man race between Evans and Jennings. Evans’ numbers are better than Curry’s and his team is a little better, so if we’re going to go with a good player on a bad team, it should be Evans.

As for Jennings, his case depends how much importance we place on a team’s record and how responsible the player is for that record. It’s funny — a good record is crucial in winning the league MVP, but for ROY, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. Why is that?

In the end, I think Evans will win Rookie of the Year. Given the history of the award, if a player clearly has the superior numbers, winning just doesn’t matter. That’s the case here.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Bill Simmons on Brandon Jennings

From his most recent mailbag

I have caught chunks of five Jennings games so far, including a decent piece of his 55-point game, but haven’t seen him in person yet. First time I watched him on TV? Blown away. Sometimes you can just tell with these things. I thought Chris Paul played well beyond his years as a rookie; Jennings is a lefty Chris Paul, only if Paul could shoot 20-footers and 3s with a hand in his face. More importantly, his teammates love him. And he has a wonderful sense of The Moment already. I can’t say enough about him. He’s a superstar in training. He’s the first Buck in 25 years who could actually sell tickets and jerseys there. Amazing. He will save basketball in Milwaukee, as long as this early start doesn’t go to his head. And it might.

Regardless, he’s the least likely franchise rookie I can remember. I always make fun of bumbling GMs in this space, so let’s pay tribute for once to someone who absolutely crushed a decision: Bucks GM John Hammond. It’s one of the best draft picks ever. A franchise-alterer. I don’t get floored by much with sports anymore, but this Brandon Jennings thing floored me. Never saw it coming. It more than made up for Rubio fleeing back to Spain for three more years.

While I agree that Hammond crushed this decision (and that Jennings could save basketball in Milwaukee), I don’t think that he’s a lefty Chris Paul. Paul averaged 7.8 assists and 12.1 shots in his rookie season while Jennings is averaging 5.7 assists and 18.7 shots per game. Jennings is more of a lefty Iverson (7.5 assists and 19.8 shots per game). He’s a shoot-first point guard who has the ability to set up others if he wants. Iverson didn’t have much to work with in Philly, and the Bucks’ roster is pretty sparse outside of Andrew Bogut (a good center with a few star qualities), Ersan Ilyasova (a good sixth man with upside), Charlie Bell, Luke Ridnour and Luc Mbah a Moute (rotation players). So it’s no surprise that Jennings is going to shoot a lot. He has to.

After a blistering hot start, he has come down to earth in the last few games. He is 25 of 84 (30%) in his last five games, and the Bucks went 1-4 over that span. The good news is that he is 10 of 19 (53%) from 3PT over that same span. Teams are going to game plan for him now and it’s his job to adjust.


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Five Good Minutes with Brandon Jennings

I love his answer when they ask him, “what’s the one thing you would you bring back from Rome?”

Brandon Jennings’ NBA Journey

Here’s an inside look at the Bucks’ rookie, with a focus on his 55-point game against the Golden State Warriors.

While the last few years haven’t been very kind, Milwaukee is a proud franchise with a long tradition of winning. Led by Lew Alcindor, they won a championship in 1971, and in the ’80s, the team advanced at least as far as the Conference Semifinals in nine of 10 seasons. The team has a nice 1-2 punch now with Jennings and Andrew Bogut, and if Michael Redd can get healthy, this team is a good bet to make the playoffs in the East.

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