There are still games to be played in February (the majority of NBA teams have one game left for the month), but as I will be busy tending to my "real" life for the next couple of days, I thought that we might take a look at the rookie of the month and rookie of the year battles today, beginning with the ROM battles.
The Eastern Conference is a little embarrassing right now. Check out the top four candidates for the month of February:
As you can see, nobody in the east is killing it this month. In fact, compare their numbers to these Western Conference rookies that likely won’t garner any consideration this month:
I threw Casspi on the list here, because his stats are awfully similar to Jerebko’s for the month. That intrigued me, because we have all been wringing our hands about Omri’s play falling off. And while that is certainly true, it is also true that his numbers would earn him consideration for Eastern Conference ROM. Marcus Thornton is clearly the 4th best rookie in the league this month, but as you will see, he’s a bit behind three of his Western Conference brethren.
Well, a winner must be chosen, and I’m going with Taj Gibson. 9 pt., 8 reb., and 1.7 blk. are certainly more representative of the position he plays than the numbers that either Jennings (36% true shooting – are you kidding?) or Flynn. And while Jerebko is scoring more and doing it more efficiently, Gibson has been much better on the defensive side.
On to the Western Conference ROM. Feast your eyes on these numbers:
If we awarded these guys 2 points for winning each of the above listed categories and gave them 1 point for placing 2nd (half points for ties), the scoring for the month would be 10 points for Curry, 9.5 for Evans, and 7.5 for Collison. If we narrow it down to the main stats (scoring, rebounds, assists), Curry wins again. Oh, and while Curry is the far superior 3-point shooter, Evans is equally superior at taking it to the rim. The true shooting percentage for both of these players speaks to their respective strengths, which is why I didn’t add columns for 3-point shooting or points in the paint.
All three of these guys bury the east, but I’m going to give Curry the slightest of edges. Now, I know that the fact that New Orleans is winning more games than the Kings and the Dubs has not been factored in here, but wins and losses just don’t seem to matter as much when you’re talking rookies. Rookies that get minutes are usually part of rebuilding franchises. In fact, you could make the argument that Collison benefits from being on a more talented team. I’m not putting Collison down here – he’s had an incredible month. But I think that Curry was just a little bit better all around. And don't give me the Nellie ball crapola - Curry has earned his numbers in the system that he is in.
OK, on to rookie of the year. Honestly, the stats ‘Reke for themselves:
No one else is even close to these three guys, and Jennings is really just barely holding on at this point. Evans and Curry have similar stats across the board, except for the fact that Tyreke is averaging almost 5 points and half a board more than Curry per game. And in spite of Curry’s stellar play over the last two months, he’s not really closing the gap on Evans in these categories. During January/February, Evans has averaged 20.4p, 4.5r and 6.1a. Curry averaged 19.9p, 4.8r and 6.2a over that same period. Basically, Evans and Curry are playing at a very equal level if you discount the first third of the season. But it’s the Rookie of the Year Award, not the Rookie of the Last Four Months Award. As such, the ROY award is still squarely in Evans’ pocket, and it will remain there barring injury. Curry should easily overtake Jennings for 2nd, unless the east coast bias overwhelms him.
This does not speak to who will eventually become the better pro, or whether Evans or Curry or Jennings will get to an all star game or a playoff game first. It also does not speak to how much I would love to see an Evans/Curry backcourt. But as it pertains to who the best rookie for 2009-10, the consistency of Tyreke Evans from practically day 1 wins out.