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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

Evans on pace for 20-5-5 season

In his NBA Awards Watch, ESPN’s Maurice Brooks notes that Tyreke Evans is on pace to join LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only first-year players to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season. (Note: Evans is actually averaging 20.5-4.9-5.4, but he averaged 5.8 rebounds in February, so if he keeps that up, he shouldn’t have any problem averaging five boards a game.)

Unfortunately, this fine play has not translated to wins. The Kings have lost 25 of their last 32 games, and are now just 20-40 on the season.

Still, it makes me wonder how a 2009 NBA Draft Re-Do would go. The last one I saw still had Blake Griffin going #1 with Evans going #2. Would the Clippers really pass on a player like Evans — who really could have been named to the All-Star Game in his rookie season — for Griffin, knowing that the former Sooner was going to miss his first year with a knee injury? Griffin still projects to be a star, but Evans is the proverbial “bird in the hand” at this point, isn’t he?

In his ROY race, Brooks ranks Stephen Curry second (22-5-7 in Feb) and Darren Collison third (22-4-8 in Feb). Brandon Jennings (11-4-6, 31% shooting in Feb) has lost his touch and is ranked fourth. DeJuan Blair (11-5, 60% shooting in Feb) comes in fifth, but if Antonio McDyess misses any time with a sore knee, Blair should get some extra minutes.

In my Top 10 Head Scratchers of the 2009 NBA Offseason, I wrote the following about Blair:

10. Six teams pass on DeJuan Blair IN THE SECOND ROUND!
When I first heard that there were concerns about Blair’s knees, I thought he might fall into the bottom third of the first round. Even if the guy is missing ligaments in his knees, he was still one of the best rebounders in all of college basketball last season and he ate up #2 pick Hasheem Thabeet in Connecticut. When Blair fell into the second round I was stunned as the Kings, Wizards, Blazers, Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies all passed on Blair. A second round pick doesn’t require the same kind of financial commitment as a first round pick, so there’s very little downside if the guy doesn’t pan out. Blair fell and fell, right into the inviting arms of the Spurs, who will be lucky to have him on the roster for the foreseeable future.

Teams just could get their heads around the fact that Blair has no ACLs in his knees. While I sort of understand not wanting to commit first round money, it doesn’t make any sense for the aforementioned teams to pass on him in the second round, where there is very little financial investment. This goes double for the two “contenders” on that list — I’m looking at you Portland and Denver — who should be worried about the short term and not the long term impact of their second round picks. Blair would give the Nuggets some much needed toughness, and he’d sure help in Portland, where half the front line is out for the season with injury.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Tyreke Evans drains game-winner against Nuggets [video]

That move is almost impossible to guard without double-teaming. He’s so good at getting to the basket, so when he stops and spins, it’s tough for the defender to change direction quickly enough to properly contest the jumper.

He’s currently the frontrunner for the ROY, and it’s doubtful that Blake Griffin is going to get enough games in to catch him. Brandon Jennings and teammate Omri Casspi are the only other serious candidates at this point. Since Michael Redd is starting to play well in Milwaukee and Casspi is Evans’s teammate, it is going to be tough for either guy to usurp him. It would probably take an injury or a month-long slump to turn the tide of the ROY race.

Maurice Brooks’ ROY Watch

The ESPN editor updates his Rookie of the Year standings

1. Tyreke Evans, Kings: After missing three games with a bum ankle, he returned to the Kings’ lineup in Saturday’s loss to the Mavs. He didn’t shoot well but provided his usual goodies in the rebound and assist columns. (Last week: 1)

2. Brandon Jennings, Bucks: Critics point out that his game slumped a little in December. Considering how well he played in November, averaging 22.1 ppg, he can afford to slip up some more and still not finish any lower than second in the Rookie of the Year voting. (Last week: 2)

3. Omri Casspi, Kings: Kudos to the Kings’ front office for drafting not one but two studs. He is averaging more than 18 points and eight boards while shooting almost 50 percent from 3-point range in his last five games. (Last week: 5)

No arguments here. I think Evans’s strong December pushed him ahead of Jennings, who has tailed off a bit. Jennings averaged 22-4-6 in November and 17-3-6 in December.

And Casspi is also impressive. When was the last time the same team had two strong ROY candidates?


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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