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Next Generation: Rookie Wall Seminar

February 26, 2008 | By Steve Simon | comment on this post

Thank you, NBA rookies, for gathering here today. I see you received my urgent memo, entitled “Beware of Rookie Wall.” Some of you have already slammed into it pretty hard, and some of you are about to make contact.

Before I begin, I’d like to excuse Al Thornton. Al, February has been your finest month. In fact, you’ve averaged nearly 18 PPG in your last five, along with solid rebounding and percentages. Go home.

Jamario Moon – you can leave, too. I see you’ve jumped right over the wall. Over your last five games, you’ve scored 12.2 PPG, averaged over a steal and a block per game, grabbed 7.0 RPG, nailed six three-pointers, and posted spectacular percentages. You’re excused.

Finally, Thaddeus Young is free to leave. In February, you’ve shot an astonishing 59.6 per cent from the floor, while racking up 11.5 PPG with 6.3 RPG and you’ve actually ripped 1.8 SPG over your last five. Good job.

Uh, sit down, Kevin Durant. Where do you think you’re going? Do you realize you’re shooting 36.9 per cent from the floor in the month of February, while only grabbing 4.0 RPG and managing to connect on only four three-pointers? In addition, the 17.3 PPG this month is the lowest of any month in your rookie season thus far. That’s not getting it done for your fantasy owners.

Yi Jianlian, now that you’ve mastered the art of using a chair, keep sitting. You’ve averaged 8.0 PPG this month, along with only 4.3 RPG and 0.4 BPG. You realize these games count, right? Do you also realize that there are 26 more games this season?

Everyone wants to praise you, Al Horford, but not me. Over your last five games, you’re averaging less than a block per game and shooting just 43.9 per cent from the floor. If you’re going to play the centre position, these are two areas you’re going to have to drastically improve before you can be considered a viable fantasy option. I’m not going to even mention the 8.0 PPG over that stretch.

Where is Jeff Green? Mr. Green – how is it possible that in your last five games, you’ve managed a total of one block and zero steals? You’re also shooting just 60 per cent from the free throw line. With the trade of Kurt Thomas, I expect your minutes to rise so I expect you to contribute at least something on the defensive end.

Hey, Sean Williams. Fantasy owners count on you for at least a major contribution in one category. For you, owners count on you to block some shots. Explain to me how you can go five games with a total of four blocks? Let’s not even mention the 3.4 RPG over your last five. You’re much bigger than I am, so I’ll move on to someone smaller, such as…

Juan Carlos Navarro, or should I call you “uan” because you definitely haven’t had a “J” of late. You’re shooting 35.2 per cent from the floor over your last five games, with only five three-pointers made during that period. Similar to what I was telling Mr. Williams, you’re a specialist. If you’re not nailing threes, why should any fantasy owner keep you active?

Finally, let me single out Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons finally give you some minutes, and what do you do? You proceed to shoot 22.8 per cent from the floor and score a measly 6.6 PPG in your last five in 18.8 MPG. I can’t even blame this on hitting the rookie wall – you didn’t see your first minute of action until the end of December!

Remember, guys – I’m tough on you because I care. I know your college seasons would have been completed by now, but you’re in the NBA and fantasy owners are counting on some of you down the stretch. I also believe that, for the first time, the Rookie of the Year award is open for debate. Make me proud. Class is dismissed.

Newsworthy Rookie News

Yao Ming’s stress fracture — an injury that could keep him out for the rest of the season — is crappy news for a Rocket team that has been on a major roll of late. But for rookie lovers, it’s great news. Luis Scola is going to move over to centre, and fellow freshman Carl Landry will also see some time at the five. Scola is already playing over 25 MPG this month with at least 30 minutes of action in three of the past four. Count on that going up, and considering the Argentine is pouring in over 11 PPG with 6.4 RPG this month, I’d recommend scooping him off the wires.

Landry is also starting to see significant minutes off the bench, and is expected to get even more with Yao out. The rookie is starting to show promise as a fantasy commodity since scoring 19 points vs. Miami last week and then following that up with an 11-rebound game against the Hornets. Keep your eye on him, as he’s starting to show double-double potential and is someone who will definitely help in FG percentage (61.6 per cent for the season). I’m not suggesting a claim yet, but put him on your watch list for sure.

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