No Love?

The rosters for the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge have been announced and there are a few surprises.

The rookie roster consists of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, Rudy Fernandez, Michael Beasley, Brook Lopez, Greg Oden and Marc Gasol.

The sophomore roster includes Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Brooks, Kevin Durant, Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Al Thornton, Luis Scola, Al Horford and Thaddeus Young.

Kevin Love isn’t on the nine-man roster for the Rookie Challenge, and it’s a big, glaring snub. ESPN’s John Hollinger agrees.

For starters, the decision to select Eric Gordon ahead of Kevin Love for the rookies was completely inexcusable.

Don’t get me wrong; Gordon is going to have a fine career, it seems, and in almost any other year he’d be a shoo-in for the team. But he made this squad mainly because the forlorn Clippers have no choice but to play him extensive minutes.

As good as he’s looked, Gordon is the only rookie team member with a Player Efficiency Rating below the league average, while Love has a better PER than every player on the rookie team except Greg Oden. Love leads the league in offensive rebound rate, as I mentioned the other day, but his prodigious work on the boards has gone largely unnoticed because he plays only 23.2 minutes a game, far less than Gordon’s 32.2.

Love’s absence is especially surprising considering how the rookie roster is loaded with four guards (Rose, Westbrook, Mayo, Gordon), one G/F (Fernandez) and only one true forward (Beasley). You’d think that if it were a tossup between Gordon and Love (which it isn’t) that they’d at least want to get another true forward on the roster to balance things out.

Hollinger goes on to rail against the sophomore roster snubs, which included Wilson Chandler over Jamario Moon, Al Thornton over Carl Landry and the worst of all (he says) — Aaron Brooks over Ramon Sessions.

Interestingly, seven of the top 11 picks of the 2007 draft — Mike Conley, Yi Jianlian, Corey Brewer, Brandan Wright, Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes and Acie Law — did NOT make the sophomore roster. (I counted Greg Oden amongst the four since he made the rookie roster.) Conversely, six of the top 11 picks in the 2008 draft did make the rookie team.

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The NBA’s Top 10 Young Small Forwards

Here’s a quick list of the top 10 small forwards under the age of 26, ranked in the order of a combination of current performance and trade value (regardless of salary).

I’ll also list the player’s age and his Player Efficiency Rating.

1. LeBron James, Cavs
Age: 23
PER: 33.28

27.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists on a 20-4 team – can you spell M-V-P?

2. Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
Age: 24
PER: 18.50

The Nuggets are sitting atop the Northwest with a 16-7 record and with the arrival of Chauncey Billups, ‘Melo is starting to play defense, as evidenced by his career-high 8.2 rebounds.

3. Danny Granger, Pacers
Age: 25
PER: 18.67

His boards are down, but his points and assists are up. I bet that the six teams that drafted other guys ahead of him – Magic (Fran Vasquez), Clippers (Yaroslav Korolev), Bobcats (Sean May), T-Wolves (Rashad McCants), Nets (Antoine Wright) and the Raptors (Joey Graham) – are all wishing they could have that draft back.

Read the rest after the jump...

2008 NBA Preview: #21 Golden State Warriors

Offseason Movement: The team elected not to pursue free agent Baron Davis and struck out on the Elton Brand sweepstakes. They did sign Corey Maggette to a big contract and also acquired Marcus Williams from the Nets for a conditional first round draft pick.
Keep Your Eye On: Monta Ellis, G
With Davis gone, this is Ellis’ team now. His reign got off to an inauspicious beginning when he hurt his ankle while riding a moped around Mississippi and then lied to the team about it. He will have to mature quickly, because the Warriors need a leader, but it’s not clear when Ellis will be able to return to action. For their part, the Warriors have suspended him for 30 games for lying about the injury, but he probably won’t be ready to play by the end of the suspension, so it just amounts to a gigantic fine.
The Big Question: Is Don Nelson the right guy to lead a rebuilding project?
Nelson always seems to have one foot out the door, so it’s unclear if he has the commitment or the patience to coach this team for much longer. They lost a great player in Baron Davis, acquired a good player in Corey Maggette, and will miss Monta Ellis for at least part of the regular season, so all else being equal, it’s more likely than not that the Warriors will take a step back this season. I think that the next time Golden State makes the playoffs, there will be a different coach steering the ship.
Outlook: In Maggette, Biedrins, Stephen Jackson, Al Harringon and Brandan Wright, the team does have a number of talented players, but they lack a star to bring everything together. Ellis is supposed to be that guy, but since he’ll be sidelined for a while, the aforementioned players will have to raise their games for the Warriors to be in the playoff hunt in the talented West.

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