Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Projecting the All-Rookie Team

Memphis had one of the youngest teams in the league last season, the youngest at the end of the season. So naturally it is of interest to Grizzlies fans to see how the All-Rookie voting comes down. If the Grizzlies are planning on rebuilding with youth, then picking the right youth to build your team becomes rather important.

NBA Loud.com posted a mid-season all-rookie list that included two Grizzlies among the starting five (Navarro and Conley). Should that hold true at the end of the year?

In my opinion the 5 best rookies this season, based solely on this year's performance, were Al Horford, Kevin Durant, Luis Scola, Al Thornton and Jamario Moon and if the voting went strictly on performance then I would expect most people would agree with that list. You might notice that not one point guard is on that list and technically not even a true guard since Kevin Durant is more of a small forward. Don't worry that has happened before. After the 2002-03 rookie season the list included Yao Ming, Amare Stoudmaire, Caron Butler, Nene and Drew Gooden. You don't have to have every position represented in the list. The 2nd team should include Mike Conley, Carl Landry, Jeff Green, Joakim Noah and Thaddeus Young. Glen Davis would the odd man out.

Navarro would be mentioned but not included on either list despite nearly setting a rookie record for 3 pt shots made and having appeared in all 82 games. He just wasn't consistent enough to make the list.

However a case can be made that Mike Conley should make the rookie list. Conley plays the most demanding position for rookies. He started over 85% of the games he played. He led the rookies in assists. His shooting percentages from both long range
and the field were surprisingly strong and he finished the season on fire. Since injury claimed a large part of the early season for Conley it should be factored into his performance. Wouldn't 14.3 ppg, 4.4 apg and 4.3 rpg deserve some notice for not only the all-rookie team but rookie of the year? That is what Conley averaged the last month of the season.

The problem for Mike is that he did miss all of those games with injuries. Missing 29 games makes it difficult to give him the nod ahead of the other candidates, all of whom played at least 73 games. The other problem for Mike is that he didn't pick up his play until after most people had made up their minds about his season. How many people really paid attention to the Grizzlies the last month of the season?

I hope I am wrong and Mike Conley makes 1st team and Navarro second. I just don't believe I am. So instead of the Grizzlies placing two players in the top 5 it looks like they will be shut out. Just another disappointment in a disappointing season for the Grizzlies.

UPDATE: I was close but not perfect with my predictions. Mike Conley didn't make the 2nd team but JCN did. I got the number of players correct but not the names!

Dave Berri has written an interesting blog about the productivity of the 1st and 2nd teams. He thinks the 2nd team would beat the first and I have to agree with him to a point. Durant wasn't that special and Green was a shock to make 1st team but who on the second team could stop Horford?

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