NBA PM: Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio Receive Rookie Honors
Two point guards, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio, were the top vote recipients for the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team. Irving—the NBA’s Rookie of the Year—led the way with 58 total points and 29 first-team votes while Rubio earned 21 first-place votes and a total of 49 points.
Irving finished the season averaging 18.5 points, 5.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game while Rubio managed to average 10.6 points and a rookie-best 8.2 assists per game before a torn ACL cut his season short.
Other members of the First Team include Denver’s Kenneth Faried (46 points), Golden State’s Klay Thompson (43 points), New York’s Iman Shumpert (40 points), San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (40 points) and Detroit’s Brandon Knight (40 points).
As good as Irving was this season, he finished second in Player Efficiency Rating among rookies because Faried posted a 19.8 rebounding rate and a true shooting percentage of 61.8 percent to give himself a rookie-best 21.94 PER.
“It’s a humbling accomplishment,” Faried said in a Nuggets statement. “My teammates and coaches believed in me all along and I was able to perform and help the team when I got the opportunity.”
Knight’s PER was just 26th among rookies (Shumpert’s was 28th) but 13 of 29 coaches apparently felt he had shown enough intangibles to warrant a first-team selection (coaches can’t vote for their own players).
“It’s an honor to make the NBA All-Rookie First Team as there were definitely a lot of good rookies this season who played big roles for their teams,” Knight said in a Pistons statement. “My focus remains on continuing to get better and improve as a player while helping our team win games and reach our goals.”
The Second Team included Houston’s Chandler Parsons (33 points), Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas (27 points), New Jersey’s MarShon Brooks (18 points), Minnesota’s Derrick Williams (16 points) and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson (16 points).
Phoenix’s Markieff Morris (seven overall points) received a first-team vote, but ultimately didn’t make either team. Other players receiving votes include Charlotte’s Kemba Walker (seven points) and Bismack Biyombo (two points), Utah’s Alec Burks (two points) and Enes Kanter (one point), Boston’s Greg Stiemsma (one—see below), New Orleans’ Gustavo Ayon (one) and Philadelphia’s Nikola Vucevic (one).
Ayon, who finished with the fourth-highest PER of any rookie may have been overlooked, as was 76ers power forward Lavoy Allen, who provided a solid defensive presence for Doug Collins’ team, but ultimately didn’t receive a single vote.
Celtics Finding Answers at Center
NBA front office executives need bargains, particularly once their rosters become bloated with eight-figure deals.
The San Antonio Spurs have buoyed their success since 1999 by finding inexpensive solutions to specific problems, and now the Boston Celtics are having some similar success.
It isn’t anything new for president Danny Ainge, but the addition of former D-Leaguer Greg Stiemsma has given the Celtics some much-needed depth this season.
“It’s been great,” Stiemsma told HOOPSWORLD. “Everybody’s been nothing but supportive since I’ve been here. They just want to win. They want to see the guys succeed. So if you’re willing to work, they’re willing to teach which has been great.”
Stiemsma was impressive on offense for the Celtics in Monday’s Game 5 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, hitting all five field goal attempts to finish with 10 points. He also grabbed two rebounds and blocked three shots in just 14 minutes, which isn’t a surprise seeing as how he finished second in the NBA in blocks per minute (5.33) during the regular season.
For a team that’s struggled to find a replacement for Kendrick Perkins, Stiemsma has been part of an inexpensive solution that has also included mid-season pickup Ryan Hollins.
But Ainge isn’t done there. Both Stiemsma and Hollins are free agents this summer, so the Celtics signed former Boston College big man Sean Williams before the playoffs began.
“It’s exciting,” Williams, the 17th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m just focused on this goal right now. Trying to work hard. We have a team goal of winning a championship, that’s all I’m focused on right now. Just helping this team accomplish their goals.”
Obviously, Williams’ efforts are coming in practice as he only appeared in three regular season games for Boston and has yet to dress in the playoffs. But after playing everywhere from China, Puerto Rico and Israel to the D-League, the 25-year-old Williams is eager for any NBA opportunity.
Like Williams, Stiemsma—the 2010 D-League Defensive Player of the Year—has also played in Europe, but he says the D-League has been better for preparing himself for the NBA.
“It’s the same game,” Stiemsma said. “The European game, with no defensive three seconds and different goaltending rules, it’s a whole different style where the D-League, you really get the NBA feel, the speed of the game and then you also get the feel for traveling, the quick, busy schedule. The D-League is a good preparation.”
Seeing Stiemsma succeed with the Celtics has given Williams a sense of just how possible it is to go from the D-League to a contributing role on an elite NBA team. In fact, this has been a big season for D-Leaguers in the NBA. Besides Jeremy Lin and the national media sensation that was Linsanity, former Celtics swingman Gerald Green carved out a sixth-man role with the Nets.
“It’s funny, I watched Greg a lot when I was in Dallas (Williams had a cup of coffee with the Mavericks this season) because I hadn’t seen him play and I played against him in the D-League before and we have (similar games) as far as blocking shots,” Williams said. “I was really just impressed watching how he came in had an impact immediately with the Celtics. It’s just a testament to players working hard, like you were talking about Gerald Green.
“Skilled shot blockers,” Williams continued, comparing himself to Stiemsma. “I think both of us are pretty skilled. People don’t know that Greg has a really soft touch. We’re just young big men developing our games.”
And while Stiemsma and Williams could be competing for the same roster spot in Boston next season, the former Wisconsin Badger said that D-Leaguers can’t help but pull for each other.
“Obviously the D-League, guys keep an eye on each other,” he said. “We wish the best for our guys, but at the same time, you’re competing for spots too. Going through that experience, no one knows what it takes to get here, so it’s always good to see those kind of guys get their opportunities because we know what hard work it is to do it.”
Stiemsma and Williams have taken different roads to get to the Celtics. Williams was a high-flying shot blocker coming out of Boston College, but his maturity was criticized when he was with the Nets and he was eventually released, which is rare for a first-round pick. He clearly still has his athleticism (although he joked that he “lost it all,” adding that he has a 20-inch vertical now. “My hops just left.”); it’s just a matter of proving that he’s learned the game of basketball.
Stiemsma went undrafted out of college before landing on mid-level teams in Turkey and South Korea. Eventually though, Stiemsma caught the eye of the Celtics’ front office and now he’s proving he belongs in the NBA.
And it’s that sort of an ending that Williams would like to put on his journey from the D-League.
“Yeah, it’s a blessing to work hard at your craft and be able to play with the best,” he said.” Players like Gerald and me, we’ve been full circle with the game, playing with the best, playing overseas and stuff, working hard, taking the long road. You just have to appreciate every day and love it and try to make the best out of it.”
Check Out: Pacers vs. Heat
It wasn’t too long ago that Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert was being described as the breakout star of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. The big man’s 19-point, 18-rebounds effort in his team’s Game 3 win over the Miami Heat is already a distant memory, though. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade evened the series at two games apiece on Sunday by scoring the majority of their 70 combined points in the paint—Hibbert’s turf.
The two teams tip-off for Game 5 from Miami at 8 p.m. on TNT.
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