Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Straight From The Rook #4

Mat MacDonald AKA The Rook

The Rook is currently enrolled in Human Kinetics at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. A frequent contributor to all NBA and Raptors debates along with other sports. Witty, quick and never afraid of a challenge, Mat's here to talk hoops with you and dish out his two cents whenever!

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Do The John Wall!

If you didnʼt enjoy Tuesday nightʼs performance from start to finish by John Wall then yup, you guessed it, “You donʼt like NBA basketball!”

John Wall did more than amaze his fans with his pre-game antics in the introductions as he continued to flash his moves on the hardwood. Coming back from a dreadful start to the game the Wizards took over and won a hard-fought game in overtime.

Wallʼs stats for the night? 29 points, 13 assists, nine steals and one mean Dougie.

Itʼs obvious that the fans of Washington feel a lot better about this yearʼs team compared to the terror-squad they were dubbed with last year. The addition of Wall does a lot for not only Washington but the league as well. In a year where the NBA is facing a possible lock-out at the end of the season, the up-tempo, exciting Wall may in fact save the NBA in the DC area with his flashy play and style that hasnʼt been seen in that area since before Gilbert Arenas pulled out the pistols.

With Wall in Wizardsʼ colors the franchise looks like it may be able to make a solid push towards the playoffs again, regardless of their 1-2 record early in the season. Accompanying Wall in the backcourt are guards Nick Young and Kirk Hinrich, both of whom can shoot and distribute the ball very well. Young exploded last night scoring 20 points off the bench, including some big shots down the stretch for the Wiz.

The one underlying question for the Wizards is what will they do with a healthy Gilbert Arenas? Sure, last year was bad. Very bad. There were times when people wondered if anyone would even want to show up at a Wizards game anymore after what had transpired in the locker-room. The answer hopefully will be; Win. The Wizards and Gilbert Arenas need to win to try and take light off of last yearʼs incidents which saw Arenas lose basically all of his 2009/10 season to suspension.

Would a healthy Arenas help the Wizards?

Maybe. For now, we donʼt know because we really havenʼt seen them play a lot. If youʼre a fan who buys what Arenas did in the pre-season faking an injury to see another player get the start, then you probably donʼt care. But if youʼre a fan who remembers what Gilbert Arenas was capable of before his injury, before his antics, then youʼre probably as intrigued as half of the league is to see if he comes back with that same fire and passion.

One thingʼs for sure, John Wall isnʼt going anywhere...for a long time. And if youʼre worried about his turnovers - the eight last night - then donʼt worry for much longer. With the team that surrounds Wall right now, itʼs not surprising thereʼs some dropped passes and bad decisions being made. I mean just ask the former Agent Zero and Javaris Crittenton and theyʼll tell you,

ʻNo oneʼs perfect!ʼ

So is Wall the only rookie thatʼs going to make a difference to the NBA this year, or is the NBA finally welcoming another class like the 2003 class which saw the likes of a King, a Flash and a Butler emerge as NBA stars? (If you didnʼt catch the fact that Chris Bosh is Alfred the Butler in Miamiʼs team then, guessed it, “You donʼt like NBA basketball!”)

Looking at the rest of the rookies we see that there are some rookies that are going to mean a great deal to their team, even if it doesnʼt result in wins: Blake Griffin - Wow. That should be enough right there to describe the high-flying game of BG, but that would be so, so wrong and short. The power-forward who some are already saying is the next to evolve the position has done nothing but turn heads throughout the NBA. People are talking, tweeting and fainting at the athleticism displayed every night by number 35. 16 points and 10 rebounds per game is a nice start for the rookie who missed last season due to injury.

Does this mean that the Clippers are going to be any better this season? Well letʼs see. When you have a starting point guard who at one time couldʼve been seen as one of the best in the game on your team, and he doesnʼt train all summer and comes into training camp and into the season, ʻout of shapeʼ then no, you have no chance to change your fortune from the previous seasons. The rest of the pieces are easy to build around but there isnʼt much hope if the Clippers canʼt turn things around at the point-guard position.

Derrick Favors - “Do the Derrick Favors, do the Derrick Favors!” Ok, so it wasnʼt as catchy as the John Wall, but seriously could the rest of the rookies try and do the Derrick Favors?

Through the pre-season Favors was terrible. Maybe it was the excitement of being in the league or maybe it was just the adjustment from eating somewhere else except meal-hall. Whatever it was, it shook Favors. But come opening night, Favors has become one of the most productive power-forwards in the game for rebounding.

Heʼs racking up double-doubles like he works at Tim Hortons and heʼs doing it for the Nets who are actually WINNING games! From my perspective, this is a huge win for the Nets and a huge win for this yearʼs rookie class. On Sunday against the Heat Favors had 13 rebounds. The kicker? 10 of them were offensive.

That means one thing - box out Chris Bosh! Itʼs the production of Favors in the 20 or so minutes per game heʼs getting that makes him a gem. Great job, Nets. Wes Johnson - I wonʼt lie. I wasnʼt huge on my knowledge of Johnson before he entered the league. All I knew is that he could shoot the ball at times and jump over people if he wanted.

But after a few games, two things have become devastatingly clear: Johnson is the real deal, and the Wolves arenʼt. Unfortunately he was thrown into a mix of players whose names you couldnʼt spell with all the pieces in a Scrabble set, and on top of that they canʼt win. Johnsonʼs done his thing trying to help out Kevin Love, but letʼs face it, Johnson or not things arenʼt going to get any brighter for the T-Wolves until they recover from the Garnett era - not the Jefferson era.

DeMarcus Cousins - Without a doubt Cousins could have been a top three draft pick.
There was no reason for him to drop like he did, but of course attitude is always a factor - just ask Randy Moss. Cousins has been solid early in the year and thatʼs a good sign for the Kings who are off to a great 3-1 start including a come-from-behind win over the Toronto Raptors. Cousins will continue to give the Kings strength in the post and most importantly if he wants he may be able to draw a spark out of his teammates in practice by flashing that attitude that heʼs become so famous for.

For the Kings itʼs a very solid pick. For Cousins itʼs a great fit. The Maloof brothers now have something to drink about! Just make sure this time they donʼt go out driving afterwards. All in all thereʼs a lot of great story lines for this yearʼs NBA rookie class. Without covering every single player itʼs already evident that these few are going to make a big impact on the image of the league. And one day if they all decide to come together and make another super-human team weʼll all change our views on them and pass our doubts. But for now, letʼs just smile and say thanks to yet another wonderful class of NBA talent.


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