I know, I know – we are a little late on our predictions. But seeing as we just started this website two days ago, we figure we are allowed a little leniency.
As far as I’m concerned, the Rookie of the Year is only a two-horse race between the Clippers’ Blake Griffin and the Wizards’ John Wall. I know Kings and 76ers fans will give me grief for not including DeMarcus Cousins and Evan Turner, but deep down they know their guys have no shot at competing with Griffin and Wall. I will concede that if Philadelphia is able to trade away Iguodala, Mr. Turner should get the starting nod and may have a chance, albeit a long one.
Here we go…
The number one overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft sat out all of last season due to a stress fracture in his left knee. How many Clippers fans said to themselves, “Here we go again…Another victim of the ‘Clippers’ Curse’…It’s all Sterlings fault…”? The thing was, it wasn’t just Clippers fans that were disappointed – it was all basketball fans. After watching this kid explode in collegiate hoops, we couldn’t wait to see if it would translate to success in the big leagues.
99.9% of the time, the preseason is absolutely worthless – superstars like Kobe and D Wade barely play, teams are experimenting with different lineups and gambles are taken that will never be taken in the regular season. Well the 0.1% of the 2010-11 preseason that mattered was the debut of Blake Griffin.
Clippers fans rejoice – Blake Griffin is not another Greg Oden. After a monstrous preseason, some things are obvious – Griffin will be successful in the NBA, he was well worth the wait and he will not be afflicted with the “Donald Sterling Plague”. Quite the opposite, Griffin will be a nightly double-double machine. Griffin’s athleticism and power guarantee him a spot on ESPN’s nightly “Top Ten”.
The number one overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft could not have come at a better time for the Wizards. The Wizards’ 2009-10 season will be better known for the Hibachi packing heat off the court, than for doing anything on the court. After overcoming the odds in the Draft Lottery and plucking the number one pick from the Nets, the Wizards knew they had found their replacement for Agent Zero.
There are many that are writing Wall off, claiming the only thing he has going for him is his speed. There are others out there that call him “Ohn Wall” because he’s got no J. Others are quick to point out that he has no leadership ability and he has an attitude problem, referencing his issues with Calipari during their time together at Kentucky. As 50 Cent said, “Let the haters hate.”
Wall is living up to the hype that follows a number one overall pick. He had a good preseason averaging 16 points per game, 8 assists and two steals, all while having to share the ball with Arenas. His defensive abilities are all garnering major respect with his coach, Flip Saunders, comparing him to Gary “The Glove” Payton. Wall is doing all he can to show the Wizards that they shouldn’t have thought twice about taking him. Evan Turner who?
And the winner is…
I see Griffin averaging 18 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Wall’s numbers will fall right in line with his preseason stats – 16 points, eight assists and a couple of steals per game. Once Arenas gets traded, and we all know that he will, Wall will have the ball in his hands a whole lot more. While this may lead to some more buckets, I get the feeling that this will actually lead to a lot more turnovers.
The fact that Griffin had to sit on the sidelines all of last season and his eagerness to avoid the Oden comparisons has motivated him to become a real force. Let’s not forget that Griffin is playing pressure free – he’s on the Clippers, so there are automatically lower expectations. While he will be the superstar on his team, he’s got plenty of options available to defer to – Baron Davis, Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon.
Unfortunately, Wall will not be privy to those luxuries. Even though Arenas is still in town, Wall is THE GUY for the Wizards, which means a lot of added pressure. Wall played in Kentucky and should be used to the pressure, but the NBA is a much different story. Not only do you have coaches who ride you after losses, you have team ownership and a city full of fans that will have no problem voicing their displeasure. Washington is also in a rebuilding phase having lost their three main pieces over the past three seasons – Butler, Jamison and the soon-to-be-lost Arenas, leaving Wall no real options to rely upon.
This will be one of the closest races in the history of the award. In fact, it may be so close that we will see “Co-Rookies of the Year” handed out. The last time this happened was during the 1999-00 season. The winners? Elton Brand and Steve Francis – anyone similarities here?
John Wall will be added to the list of people that were upset that Griffin had to sit out all of last season because Griffin is stealing this award from him. Griffin’s superior stats, better team record and outright explosiveness and excitement will help him snatch the award out of Wall’s hands.
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