There is exactly one week left of the regular season, which means our 2009-2010 of the Rookie Watch is almost over. In fact, this is the last week that we’ll be doing this in the regular format. Next week I’m going to rank the top ten rookies with hearty explanations and then take the berating of a lifetime from all the readers who disagree. So dig up your arguing hats; you’ll need them in a week. For now, let’s take a look at who’s finishing up the season strong, and who is sort of falling off the map as things wrap up.
Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets – The Nets finally scraped together enough wins to dig themselves out of history’s statistical basement, and a lot of that has to do with how well Williams has come on the last few weeks of the year. He’s been able to handle the ball a lot and has shown that he can do a lot of creating when it’s in his hands. What really shows his maturity, however, is his increased ability to find better passing lanes to get his teammates more involved. He’s scored double figures in 15 of his last 17 games and even dished out 14 assists in an April 3rd win over the Hornets. This kid might end up being one of the better players from this class before it’s all said and done.
Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets – After showing little glimpses of promise here and there over the course of the year, Budinger has absolutely exploded in the last four games. He scored a career-high 24 points on March 30, and then scored 24 again on April 2. In all, he’s averaging just under 20ppg in his last four contests, and he’s getting tons of minutes in which to do it. It hasn’t always been easy for Chase this season, but it seems like it’s easier now that it has been in 70+ games so far.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – If Curry had been doing this all season long, he’d be the imminent Rookie of the Year instead of Tyreke Evans, but as it stands Evans has had the more complete, consistent season overall and that means he’ll probably take home the award. That said, no rookie has been more solid down the stretch, as Curry put up another monster week, averaging 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 11 assists a game. Yowzah!
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings – To be fair to Tyreke, when I say "rough week," I’m really only talking about one game, but to follow up back-to-back 20/7/13 and 17/7/10 games with a six-point showing at home against the Blazers on April 3rd is a little embarrassing for one of the season’s top rookies. Should anyone be concerned? No way. It was a bad game. But it just so happens that his bad game constitutes a bad week. He’ll get over it.
Darren Collison, New Orleans Hornets – Even with Chris Paul back in the lineup, Collison ha been able to sustain his offensive output the last several weeks, but in his most recent game he failed to score in double digits for the first time since March 10th, and for only the second time since February 3rd. The four-point egg he laid against, of all teams, the New Jersey Nets, was his lowest output since the middle of January, when he was hardly playing at all behind Paul. He’s certainly better than that, and we’ll consider this more an exception than a rule, but that’s a really cruddy game against a really cruddy team.
Rodrigue Beaubois, Dallas Mavericks – Roddy’s minutes just weren’t there last week to do anything of particular value. Having played only 10 and 11 minutes in his last two games, he hasn’t been able do his usual speedy thing. In those two games he’s got a total of 9 points, 1 assist, no steals, and 4 turnovers. Not his best stretch by a longshot.
R.O.Y. Race – Top 5
#1 (1) – Tyreke Evans
#2 (2) – Stephen Curry
#3 (3) – Brandon Jennings
#4 (4) – Taj Gibson
#5 (5) – Darren Collison