In a recent interview, as reported by SLAM, Baron Davis, starting point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers and beard proponent, said that Brandon Jennings should win Rookie of the Year honors. Jennings did have a 55 point outburst early in the season which escalated him to the top of the discussion at the time. Davis stated that Jennings should win the award because he plays a key role on a playoff contender. Baron is obviously not a student of history. Lebron James won ROY while on a losing team (that would quickly change). Kevin Durant also won ROY on a losing team in Seattle. C’mon, B-Diddy, do better man. Look at the numbers.
Jennings does offer some flash on the court but has a lineup of Andrew Bogut, Carlos Delfino and John Salmons. The Bucks have had a very easy schedule in 2010. They have only had 17 games against playoff-bound teams since the beginning of the year. However, they have won eight including a current winning streak with wins against Cleveland, Boston and Utah. Yes, Jennings did light up the Golden State Warriors back in November for 55 points. However, his shooting has been marred by inconsistency since. Jennings has had a great year and has turned a perennial loser in Milwaukee into a playoff team but two others players have fared better.
Stephen Curry has basketball in his genes. The son of Dell Curry averaged nearly 30 points a game in his last season at Davidson. He was selected seventh in the 2009 draft by the Golden State Warriors leaving seven other teams wishing they had selected Curry (Sorry Memphis, how is Thabeet doing for you?). The real surprise comes with Curry’s success due to his size or lack thereof. The rookie is only 6 foot 3 inches tall and is tiny compared to most other players on the court. Regardless, Curry plays with a heightened level of self confidence that we saw on Monday night against the Lakers. In the fourth quarter, Curry took the ball up the floor and with his big puppy eyes, couldn’t find a single teammate open. He just stepped back for a long three over Kobe and went on to score 29 points in the loss. In addition, a lot of people couldn’t see him working well along Monta Ellis who is definitely a trigger-happy guard with 22 shots a game. However, Ellis is having a career year with just over 25 points a game up from just 19. Even his assists are up from 3 to 5 a game. The Warriors only have 16 wins this season and will be taking an early summer vacation but their failure can not be attributed to Curry or Ellis. A string of injuries, cap clearing and just overall lack of depth is what’s killing this team. Curry is definitely a worthy candidate for ROY.
Next, there is the shoe-in. Tyreke Evans was drafted out of Memphis where he struggled at first at shooting guard. John Calipari transitioned Evans to point guard where he excelled and took the Tigers on a winning streak right into the NCAA Tournament. He was selected fourth overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 draft. He, along with Kevin Martin and Omri Casspi, were supposed to lead the Kings back to glory after four years of missing the playoffs. Things didn’t work out quite that way. Kevin Martin went out with a hairline fracture in his left wrist. In the five games he did play at the beginning of the season, he averaged 30 points a game but the Kings only won one of those games. People wrote the Kings off when they found out Martin would be out until mid-January. Of the 32 games without their leading scorer, the Kings won 14 (That’s about 14 more than analysts expected). Evans averaged over 20 points a game in that stretch (that’s more than Jennings and Curry have averaged all season). In the middle of that streak, Evans was instrumental in helping the Kings overcome a 35-point deficit against the Chicago Bulls, 102-98 on December 21. He scored 9 of the Kings’ last 11 points. He outscored the entire Bulls roster in the fourth quarter with 11 points and the Bulls only scoring 10. Just last week, Evans recorded his first triple-double against the Toronto Raptors with 19 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.
Sadly, Tyreke’s efforts are not going to place the Kings in the Playoffs but his numbers are impressive. He has averaged a solid 20 points and 5 rebounds a game and has given Sacramento a new player to build around. No one saw him carrying this team especially without Kevin Martin. He even helped this year’s rookies beat the sophomores in the Rookie Challenge for the first time ever. He recorded 26 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals on 11 of 15 shooting as he went on to win the game’s MVP. It’s pretty obvious who deserves the title Rookie of the Year. Jennings has the flash, Curry has the confidence but Evans has the numbers.