What kind of rookie season is Michael Beasley having?

One thing that struck me about Bill Simmons’ trade value column was his unabashed hatred for Michael Beasley’s game. He made three separate references to the rookie:

Jason Thompson: I mocked him on draft day and he shoved it in my face like a cream pie. Top-notch energy guy, good defender, lots to like. You know, if Michael Beasley wasn’t such a colossal disappointment and semi-fraud, the 2008 draft could have ranked among the best ever (and certainly superior to the more ballyhooed ’07 class).

Colossal disappointment? Semi-fraud? Ouch.

Jeff Green: Great teammate, tough as nails, gives a crap, does whatever you need. He’s the anti-Beasley.

So Simmons is saying that Beasley is not a good teammate, isn’t tough, doesn’t give a crap and won’t do whatever you need? Ouch.

You have to love a country where Love’s best rookie card (Upper Deck’s ’09 SPX set, the signed autographed jersey card) goes for one-eighth the money of Beasley’s card … and yet, Miami could offer Beasley for Love right now and Minnesota would make a face and hang up. Whatever.


All right, so how is Beasley faring this season? Here are his numbers:

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Marc Stein’s trade talk: Amare, Tyson, Richard Jefferson and more

The trade deadline is Thursday, and trade talk is really heating up. Marc Stein gives us the latest.

Two rival executives we spoke with Sunday night immediately wondered whether the Suns’ decision to replace Terry Porter with Alvin Gentry would convince Phoenix to “tap the brakes,” as one put it, on its Stoudemire talks. If the Suns are going to try to recapture a semblance of what they had under Mike D’Antoni, with the only holdover from D’Antoni’s staff taking over, you can understand why Gentry would prefer to have Stoudemire for the rest of the season to help the cause.

Stoudemire is still under contract for another season, so it wouldn’t hurt the Suns if they wanted to see what Gentry could do with this group before moving their star player over the summer. I’d say that the Porter firing makes it more likely that Stoudemire stays put, though I’d still put the chances at better than 50/50 that Amare is moved before the trade deadline.

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Early-season NBA awards

The NBA season is less than a month old, but that’s not going to stop me from handing out some early-season awards…

The most outstanding rookie award goes to…Rudy Fernandez.
Derrick Rose is probably the front-runner for the ROY award, but Rudy has been better thus far. His PER is an eye-popping 23.89 (Rose’s is 17.78), which is second-best amongst all shooting guards, and it seems like night after night he’s making a highlight-reel play. Fernandez is averaging 15.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists, while shooting 48% from the field and 46% from long range. To top it off, he’s nailing 93% of his free throws and is registering 1.3 steals per game. His fine play is allowing the Blazers to be patient with Jerryd Bayless by running Brandon Roy at he point and Fernandez at off guard. Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, Jason Thompson and Kevin Love deserve honorable mention.

The league MVP goes to…LeBron James.
Cleveland is 6-2 and that projects to a 62-win season. If the Cavs can accomplish that, LeBron is going to run away with the MVP award. He’s averaging 29.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists, and is shooting 49% from the field and 78% from the free throw line (which would be a career-high). A case could be made for Kobe Bryant, but he has a much better supporting cast and LeBron’s numbers are better across the board. (Besides, I don’t think voters would want to give Kobe back-to-back MVP awards.) Paul Pierce is a possibility, but he’s only shooting 41% from the field this season. Chris Paul is having an even better year than last season’s remarkable jump, but the Hornets are just 4-3 thus far. Atlanta’s Joe Johnson might be LeBron’s biggest challenger early in the season, but King James has him beat in virtually every statistical category. LeBron it is.

The “I’m the real reason the Bucks traded away Mo Williams” award goes to…Ramon Sessions.
Even though he’s playing fewer minutes (barely) than starter Luke Ridnour, Sessions is averaging more points (15.6 to 10.6), steals (1.1 to 0.9), has a better assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7 to 1.9), a better FG% (48% to 34%) and a better 3PT% (40% to 27%). I don’t think the Bucks are going to be too heartbroken when Ridnour’s contract is up after next season because it looks like Sessions, the former second-round pick, is Milwaukee’s point guard of the future. He’s in the final year of his rookie deal, so it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of contract he gets next summer.

The “maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to come to L.A.” award goes to…Baron Davis.
First, he thinks he’s going to get to play with Elton Brand, but Brand bolts for Philly. Now the Clippers are 1-7 and are losing games by a league-worst 13.4 points per game. Their defense is bad, but their offense is worse. They have scored the second-fewest points per game (88.3) and have the second-worst field goal percentage (41%). For his part, Davis hasn’t done much to help the cause. He’s shooting 37% from the field and just 26% from long range. If this keeps up, the Clippers will be out of the playoff race by Christmas.

The “boy, Devin Harris and those two first round picks are looking really good right now” award goes to…Mark Cuban.
Last year, when the Dallas owner pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Devin Harris and two first round picks to the Nets for a 34 year-old Jason Kidd, I was very skeptical. It was a longshot that the trade would pan out, as it was debatable at the time of the trade whether or not Kidd was even better than Harris. Certainly, Harris had a lot more upside, and his stint in New Jersey has allowed him to flourish. The first of the two picks was used on Ryan Anderson, and he is playing pretty well in limited minutes this season. The second pick is an unprotected first rounder in 2010, which could be a lottery pick if the Mavs can’t get things straightened out. They are 2-5 and their top four players – Kidd (35), Dirk Nowitzki (30), Jason Terry (31) and Josh Howard (28) – are all at least 28 years-old. Barring an injury to one of these guys, the Mavs will probably be fighting for a playoff spot in April, but that’s not exactly what Cuban had in mind.

NBA’s early season PER surprises

John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is a nifty way to compare players with vastly different minutes played. For an explanation, check out this article. A score of 15.0 is average.

Here are a few surprise players that are filling the box score early in the season. All players are seeing at least 20 minutes of playing time per game.


#8 Nate Robinson (21.33)

15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.9 apg, 2.8 spg
Thus far, Robinson is flourishing off the bench in Mike D’Antoni’s high-octane offense. He’s knocking down shots and is sharing the ball well.

#11 Ramon Sessions (19.36)
17.2 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.4 spg
The 22 year-old Sessions is proving that his late-season run last year was no fluke. His fine play is making the Bucks’ decision to trade Mo Williams a lot clearer. It looks like he’s the point guard of the future in Milwaukee.


#4 Nick Young (23.33)
16.6 ppg, 2.0 apg, 2.0 rpg, 55.4% FG%
Yes, his line is thin (i.e. he doesn’t do much but score), but boy can he put the ball in the hoop. The Wizards are struggling, but Young is providing points off the bench.

#7 Rudy Fernandez (21.31)
13.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.8 apg, 42.4% 3PT%
Usually, it takes rookies a little while to adjust to the NBA three-point distance, but Fernandez isn’t having a problem. He’s in the running for Rookie of the Year.

#8 Roger Mason (20.96)
16.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, 52.7% FG%, 56.0% 3PT
Mason is doing his best Manu Ginobili impersonation. It looks like the fifth-year player is starting to break out, and once Ginobili returns, he’ll give the Spurs a much-needed fourth scoring option.


#2 Trevor Ariza (24.09)
9.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 spg, 60.0% 3PT
Ariza has been remarkably productive in limited minutes. He should be starting, but he needs to show that he has a consistent jump shot before Phil Jackson can use him to space the court for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. For now, he’s bringing great energy off the bench.

#9 Thaddeus Young (18.12)
16.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 51.9% FG%, 47.8% 3PT
After a stellar yet underrated rookie season, Young is making the most of the extra 10 minutes of playing time. He has shown great improvement from long range and from the free throw line (74% last season, 89% this season).


#7 Luis Scola (21.87)
13.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 56.7 FG%
He did much of his damage last season with Yao Ming sidelined, so it’s impressive that he’s been able to increase his rebound rate.

#13 Jason Thompson (19.71)
11.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 59.6 FG%
He’s not starting, but if he keeps this up, the Kings won’t bring the rookie off the bench for long.


#7 Nene (21.29)
16.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 66.7% FG%
What is it with Brazilians and their one-word names? Nene is doing his best to make up for the loss of Marcus Camby. We all know that Nene is talented, but he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Maybe this is his year.

#8 Josh Boone (18.60)
9.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 55.3% FG%
It’s Boone – not lottery pick Brook Lopez – that’s starting at center for the Nets. The team needs to rebound and he’s getting it done.

#10 Spencer Hawes (17.67)
12.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Hawes filled in admirably for Brad Miller, and it looks like he’s going to be a solid NBA center.

2008 NBA Preview: #22 Sacramento Kings

Offseason Movement: The team traded Ron Artest to the Rockets for forward Donte Greene and a future first round pick. Artest played well for the Kings and rehabbed his image to a certain extent. The Kings essentially traded him for two late first round picks, which isn’t a bad deal. The distraction is gone and the Kings can continue the rebuilding process.
Keep Your Eye On: John Salmons/Francisco Garcia, GF
With Artest in Houston, there are a lot of minutes to be had at small forward. Both players are versatile and can play a little point guard as well. Salmons plays much better in a starting role and is the better slasher, while Garcia is the better shooter and ballhandler. Given his production as a starter, Salmons figures to take over that role, but Garcia will get a lot of minutes off the bench.
The Big Question: Are the Kings good enough to contend for a playoff spot?
Sacramento finished 12 games out of the #8 spot in the West last season and lost Ron Artest. They’re a young team, so collectively they’ll need big progress to overcome that loss of talent and 12 games in the West. This looks like a team that will compete on a nightly basis but will ultimately finish with 30-35 wins in a tough conference.
Outlook: I like what the Kings are doing, but I wonder if giving PG Beno Udrih a big contract (five years, $33 million) was the right thing to do. They must see him as their point guard of the future, but on a PER basis, he was the #30 PG in the league. They are building around Kevin Martin (pictured), and project to have a ton of cap space in the summer of 2010, when they’ll likely look to add a star free agent. In addition to Martin, if another one of their young players (Udrih, Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Donte Green, Shelden Williams) can develop into a star, the Kings will be in business in two or three years.

Check out our NBA Preview page for a look at every team. We’ll be posting three previews per business day, which will take us up to the start of the season on Tuesday, October 28th.

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