Breakin' Down The 08-09 NBA Rookies

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Breakin' Down The 08-09 NBA Rookies

A Breakin' Down The Game Special

There were few surprises in the 2008 NBA Draft.  2008 marks the first time when the first three picks of the draft were all Freshmen.  The first two picks were just short of obvious; with a few people saying Miami might skip over Beasley and take OJ Majo with the No. 2 pick. 

However, they didn’t, and went with the more sure thing.  Even with the already crowded backcourt in Chicago, the Bulls selected Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick. 

When the Wolves picked up OJ Mayo at No. 3, they traded him for Kevin Love (the  sixth pick) and throw-in Mike Miller (who gives them another 3-point shooter around Al Jefferson). 

After that, most picks were deemed solid picks, with only a few questionable ones including the Knicks selecting Danillo Gallinari, and the Bobcats grabbing DJ Augustine, over the 7-footer Brook Lopez. 

For a full breakdown and grades on each pick, you can revisit Chad Ford’s Team Grades


As expected, the Rookie of the Year talks began right after the draft, with Michael Beasley being the favorite, and Derrick Rose shortly behind. 

Also in the top three choices was last year’s No. 1 pick, Greg Oden. Because he hasn’t played a single game, he is still considered a rookie and therefore eligible to win the award. 

A sleeper pick for the award, is Spain’s Rudy Fernandez, who is best known for this dunk, and a fantastic fourth quarter in the Olympics Gold Medal game against Team USA.  Rudy has looked great early on, having one of the smoothest and fastest shot releases since Ray Allen.

So how are they doing now? 

Derrick Rose is performing as expected, and that’s hard to do.  Expectations were high for this young point guard after taking his NCAA team to the Championship game.  That also comes with the territory when you’re a No. 1 pick. 

It’s looking great for Derrick early on and the chances of him ‘doing a Kwame’ are very low.  His body, size, athleticism are extraordinary, looking very similar to Deron Williams when he first came into the league. 

He’s still adjusting to the game, and still working on his shot, but his court awareness, basketball IQ, and ability to finish around the basket are all looking great. 

A much better bet at this point to ‘do a Kwame,’ is Blazers’ starting center Greg Oden.  This is a sad story for a nice kid.  At the beginning of last season, we thought he had a isolated and random injury, eventually needing the dreaded Microfracture surgery. 

Only a few have come back at full form after this procedure and even when successful, it could take a very long time (see: Stoudamire, Amare).  Now, the story has hit unfortuate, with Greg Oden experiencing another injury in just his first game in the NBA.  He has yet to score a point. 

The best way to describe this was done by Henry Abbott and David Thorpe at ESPN.  Thorpe is a well-known coach who focuses just as much, if not more, on attitude than the X’s and O’s.  Henry Abbott is a Blazer super-fan, so seeing the two of them talking in such a "Glass-Half Empty" way, is very discouraging for Blazer fans.

So far, Michael Beasley is falling short of expectations.  He’s having trouble adjusting to the size of the game, and is seemingly a little small to go up against other teams at the four spot. 

It’s also working against him that he’s not necessarily fast enough to go at a lot of the three’s as well. 

I expect him to get much better, quickly, since his athleticism and basketball IQ are both very mature for his age.  He’s got a great coaching staff, and superstar Dwayne Wade to take off some of the pressure. 

The Heat only won 15 games last season, so they have no where to go, but up.

Every year, there are some sleeprs in the draft.  Either that, or it just so happens that a team picks the right player to mesh into what they were already building. 

I’m a big fan of the Lopez brothers.  I thought the Nets should think twice before extending Josh Boone’s contract, since I would rather focus on building around Brook Lopez at the center spot. 

In Pheonix, Robin Lopez is getting schooled daily by one of the greatest to ever play the game, Shaquille O’Neal.  Lessons from the Big Cactus, and plenty of playing time, since Shaq’s on his last leg, could give this kid exactly what he needs to get going in this league and be successfull.

So far, the rookie who has made the biggest impact with his team is Kevin Love.  While he might not ever be a superstar in this league, he’s one of the best Gel-guys I’ve seen in a very long time. 

He can handle the ball, shoot the three, gets boards on both sides of the court, throws a mean outlet pass, and hustles non-stop.  K-Love didn’t just have an immediate impact on the court, but also with the culture of the Wolves. 

His work ethic, attitude, and hustle are all contagious.  I expect K-Love to get an invite to Team USA next summer, as he is the perfect complimentary player for a Championship caliber team (see: Prince, Tayshawn).

Funny enough, my two favorite rookies are the ones that got swapped during the draft. 

My pick for the 2009 Rookie of the Year goes to OJ Mayo.  OJ has the green light, and I expect him to step on the pedal.  Not only is his shot looking beautiful, but he will learn to get to the rim more frequently and therefore get to the line as well. 

The young trio of Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, and Mayo, will be exciting to watch, and that squad will be out on the court a majority of the time.  Mayo might not get many wins, and might shoot a low percentage, but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from winning the award, and I expect the same for OJ Mayo.

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