Monday, January 10, 2011

Follow-Up

This is sort of a follow-up to my "Inexact Science?" article.

There is so much to say on the matter that it couldn't all be covered in one sitting.

The draft is the where franchises are born, so the topic of why one player succeeds and another doesn't can never be talked about enough.


EVAN ALMIGHTY

Of all the rookies who I picked to do well this year, Evan Turner is the one who gave me the most concern thanks to his slow start to the season.

It wasn't a great deal of concern, but there was a slight amount of worry about how good Evan Turner would be and how long it might take him to get there.

But it looks like the kid is going to be alright.

He had his breakout performance in a win at Phoenix, scoring a career-high 23 points on 9-12 shooting.

I saw his next game at the Lakers, and he looked like a completely different player than he did early in the season.

He had learned more of the offense, so he was fully involved in plays instead of just camping out in a corner and watching things happen.

He was more comfortable making moves and more assertive taking shots, not to mention the high basketball IQ.

And he showed better passing skills, like he has adjusted to his teammates, the playbook and the speed of the game.

On the other end of the court, Turner is showing himself to be an outstanding defensive player.

From what I saw (might have missed a play or two channel surfing), Turner wasn't beaten off the dribble one time by anyone he defended in his 35 minutes on the court.

And he guarded players from Shannon Brown and Steve Blake to Kobe Bryant.

He did allow Bryant to hit about four clutch shots on him in the final minutes to close out the game with a win for Los Angeles, but all were mid-range jumpers where Turner could have done a much better job of jumping to contest Bryant's shot.

To go with his 12 points, Turner had six rebounds, four assists and three steals; and Philadelphia barely lost the game.

All things considered, it was a pretty good performance against Bryant and the Lakers.

Andre Iguodala didn't play in the game, continuing a worrisome trend where Turner plays best when Iguodala isn't on the court.


LATE BLOOMERS

In honor of Evan Turner and all of the other rookies who have started slowly this season, I decided to put together a short list of people who had or are having great careers which didn't exactly get off to sizzling starts.

More than anything, this is to provide some perspective and stop fans from freaking out fewer than 20 games into a rookie's career.

Although we all remember John Stockton as the man who led Utah to the Finals against Chicago in 1997 and 1998 and as the all-time assist leader, he didn't become a full-time starter until his fourth year in the league.

He did average 8.2 assists and 2.2 steals in 22.7 minutes in year three but only 7.9 points, a career high at that time.

Speaking of 7.9 points, that is exactly what Scottie Pippen averaged in his rookie season.

He didn't start a single game and shot .174 from three-point range. Pippen was the No. 5 pick in the 1987 draft.

Gary Payton was talked about in the "Inexact Science?" article. The fans were probably ready to run him out of town after his first two years.

I think he turned out alright.

Dirk Nowitzki started half of the time during his rookie season and averaged a measly 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game and shot .206 on three-pointers.

He played 20.4 minutes per game.

Nowitzki didn't crack the 20-point barrier until his third year and didn't average 25 points until his fifth season.

After his first year in the league, I'm sure someone who will never admit it was calling him a bust.

And Dwight Howard didn't light up the sky as a rookie either.

Fans in Orlando probably didn't set off any fireworks when he lost out to Emeka Okafor for Rookie of the Year.

Howard averaged 6.5 defensive rebounds per game as a rookie and .9 assists.

And it wasn't until his fourth season that he reached 20 points per game and became the player we know today.

While it is nice and comforting to have rookies who come in and dominate right away, it is not time to panic when they don't.

Everyone can't be like Mike.

And just because a player isn't Mike doesn't necessarily mean that he is Sam.

It could just be that he is Scottie.

Comment or e-mail: thenbaoutsider@yahoo.com

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