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.


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Teams that could take Evan Turner over John Wall

For most of the collegiate season, it looked like John Wall was the only player deserving of the #1 pick — like a franchise would be crazy not to take him if it won the lottery. But as Evan Turner has come on — 20-9-6 with 52% shooting — and is pushing Wall for the Naismith award, it has become a reasonable possibility that a team that already has a good point guard might pass on Wall and take Turner (who projects to play off guard or small forward in the NBA) instead.

David Thorpe lists the Timberwolves (Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio), Warriors (Monta Elllis, Stephen Curry), Kings (Tyreke Evans), Sixers (Jrue Holiday), Jazz (Deron Williams) and the Bulls (Derrick Rose) as teams with lottery picks that could potentially go with Turner over Wall.

Wall is two years younger and doesn’t have Turner’s injury history. (Turner broke his back earlier in the season. Yeah. Broke his back.) The two shoot about the same from three-point range and are both good playmakers. To me, they both resemble Dwyane Wade, though Turner is longer and Wall is more athletic (of the two).

This is no indictment of Wall. Turner has played himself into this position with a brilliant season. Wall is two years younger so he has more upside, but they both project to be great NBA players, so if a franchise is already sitting on a very good point guard, it makes some sense to go with Turner.

Why didn’t the Kings get more for Kevin Martin?

In his post-deadline PER diem column, John Hollinger discusses how the Rockets were able to end up with a ton of assets in the three-way trade with the Kings and the Knicks.

Consider the Kings, for instance. They had a coveted star in Kevin Martin, $13 million in expiring contracts belonging to Kenny Thomas, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong, Ime Udoka and Sean May, and $1.6 million in cap room to do an unbalanced trade. They should have been controlling the entire game on deadline day.

Unfortunately, they didn’t choose to play. Sacramento didn’t let teams know Martin was available, and in fact insisted he wasn’t available; unlike Phoenix with Stoudemire, the Kings have no idea if Houston’s offer was the best one they could have had. In fact, there’s considerable evidence they could have done much better — possibly by bypassing the Rockets entirely.

Consider, for starters, what would have been the perfect home for Martin: Boston. The Kings could have sent Martin and little-used Andres Nocioni to the Celtics for Ray Allen and a first-round pick, and cleared $18 million in cap room (the Celtics, given their current time horizon, would have blurted out yes to this offer in a nanosecond).

They then could have used Allen and Kenny Thomas in a deal with the Knicks and walked away with the exact same trove of assets that the Rockets did. If so, Sacramento wouldn’t have Landry, but look at what they’d have instead: Jordan Hill, New York’s 2012 first-rounder, Boston’s 2011 first-rounder, the right to swap picks with New York in 2011 (admittedly, an item of more value to Houston given the two clubs’ likely records next season), and the same cap room they cleared with the Martin trade.

The only reason they don’t have those assets, it would appear, is that they didn’t ask. While the Kings fiddled, Houston forced the action and squeezed all it could from New York. When the Knicks wouldn’t flinch, the Rockets scrambled to get alternate deals in place: first an all-smoke, no-fire rumor with Chicago, and then a late deal with Sacramento that both pried Martin free and thrust the Knicks into action.

That story echoes a fairly constant background noise that’s been heard about Sacramento in recent years. The Kings have a small front office and nearly everybody in it has been there forever; one gets the impression not that they’ve lost their basketball acumen, but that they aren’t putting in the legwork anymore.

That Martin/Nocioni-for-Allen swap and subsequent trade with the Knicks is an interesting angle on this year’s trade deadline. By not making it known that Martin was available, the Kings didn’t get everyone’s best offer. Conversely, the Suns did hear everyone’s best offer or Stoudemire, and chose not to pull the trigger.

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