2:45am Eastern 

During the aftermath of Toronto’s 89-82 win over the Pistons last night, on the post-game show, I was asked by a listener who I felt was most deserving of the Rookie of the Year award this season. 

Well, Jonesy and I bounced around the question/issue for a couple of minutes and we both came to the same conclusion of the top 3 candidates (in no particular order):  Luis Scola - HOUSTON, Al Horford – ATLANTA, and Jamario Moon – TORONTO.

To many folks’ surprise, neither one of us had Kevin Durant (SEATTLE) in our top 3.  We both had him #4 on our lists.  And both Jonesy and I agreed that while Durant is a future star and an unbelievable talent, he has the misfortune of being a rookie during a season in which 3 other first-year players are providing significant contributions to WINNING and/or PLAYOFF teams. 

Assuming Atlanta makes the post-season, Horford will be right around the double-double mark for the year.  The kid is an absolute stud and a future All Star in my eyes. 

Nobody can deny what Scola has done ALL season … let alone in the last month or so … since the absence of Yao Ming. 

And say what you will about Jamario Moon, but he’s a 27-year-old rookie who has played through thick and thin since early in the season when Sam Mitchell inserted him into the starting line up in Chicago.  While he made his name off thunderous dunks and a brief spotlight in the Slam Dunk competition, he’s known more in Toronto as a guy that doesn’t drive enough; that appears reluctant to put the ball on the floor.  Yet he continues to flirt with the top 50 in the NBA in FG% and his rebounding and shot-blocking abilities have been major assets all season.

Compare these three guys to Durant, and there is no comparison.  Long-term, Durant will probably be the bigger “star” when stacked-up against Horford, Scola, or Moon.  But for this year … Durant’s inflated numbers on a terrible Sonics squad don’t look as impressive as what the other 3 have done in winning environments. 

In fact, if you take a look at the “numbers” … Moon, Scola, and Horford have all averaged less minutes-per-game than Durant, but they all have more rebounds-per-game and they all shoot a higher percentage from the field than Durant.  The only thing KD has going for him is points-per-game.  He has scored at least 10-points-per-game more than any of the three I’ve mentioned.  He’s averaging just under 20 PPG – and that’s DAMN impressive for a rook. 

But if the vote were to go down today, I’d write my ballot like this:  1.  Horford  2.  Scola  3.  Moon

Take a look at their numbers heading into last night’s action:

9.7 points
9.9 rebounds
31:30 minutes
50.0% FG 

9.6 points
5.9 rebounds
23:30 minutes
51.2% FG 

8.5 points
6.4 rebounds
28:18 minutes
47.3% FG 

19.6 points
4.1 rebounds
33:47 minutes
42.1% FG

E. Smith

4 Responses to “The Rookie of the Year Race”
  1. 1.

    I gotta agree with you, though personally I’d put Scola above Horford for the simple reason that the Rockets are contending for #1 in probably the toughest division in certainly the toughest by a long shot conference, after losing Yao. In large part that’s due to Scola stepping up his game for them.

    To run wildly off-topic, have you heard anything about the NBA perhaps addressing the clear parity issues that exist between the East and West? A “16 Best Teams” approach or something along those lines? I know in those circumstances we would be out of the playoffs but to my mind it’s a crime that Toronto, Philadelphia, Atlanta, or possibly Jersey will get in and two of Denver, Dallas, Portland, and Golden State will miss out.

    Either way, I think the league should do something to address the lack of equality between the conferences. Maybe reorganize the conferences into North vs South? I realize that doesn’t address the time zone issues.

    - Shep
  2. 2.

    ALthough the logic behind E’s selection is valid we all know gaudy offensive numbers always win out. If not Bargnani would have been ROY last year because he contributed on a playoff team while Roy put up big offensive numbers on a struggling team. I would have it Horford, Durant, Scola myself but we all know Durant is walking away with this one hands down.

    Side note: Where has this Raps team that beat the Pistons been. Injuries, road trip, and T.J.’s wet 1-ply tissue paper ego aside, there is no excuse why they haven’t played with the same intensity and emotion as last night over the past 10+ games. Is this a sign of a young inexperienced club?

    - Alessio
  3. 3.

    Hey Shep about the best 16 theory, I’m sure the fans would be all for it (we all want to see the best games involving teh best teams), but with playoff teams getting extra moola I can’t see the league adopting this format as many Eastern team would lose out and be quite unhappy. I guess we have to continue to watch mediocrity be rewarded, something very typical in the sports community.

    - Alessio
  4. 4.

    I agree that Horford should win the award. I think with the influx of Euro-league Pro’s the NBA needs to rewrite the rule that a player over the age of 22 can’t win this award. Scola has an international pedigree and 10 years of professional experience, he shouldn’t be rated against teenagers and guys who played 2 years in college.

    As for Durant – it’s funny that he is ripped in the US media for two things: low shooting%/efficiency and lack of rebounding.

    Put it in perspective – he’s 3 years younger than Bargnani, is shooting a higher FG% and rebounds at the same rate (even though he plays the 2-guard and Andrea is a center). So over here we make every excuse in the book for Andrea’s struggles, but south of the border it’s open season on Durant. Interesting.

    The fact that he already gets to the line ~ 6 times a game as a skinny rookie and is shooting over 53% this month (has learned to forget about the 3 pointer till he gets more range) leads me to think Durant is going to be a stud once he gets stronger and gets more “superstar” foul calls. Future scoring champ.

    - Mike
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