By Joe Kaiser
Thursday, December 12th, 2002
A month and a half into the NBA season, statistics indicate that it will
be a six-man race for the Rookie of the Year award, barring any huge surprises.
The cast of candidates includes the following: Houston center Yao
Ming, Memphis forward Drew Gooden, Chicago guard
Jay Williams, Denver forward Nene Hilario,
Phoenix center Amare Stoudemire, and Miami forward
The ROY is an award unlike many others in sports. Winning, or being on a
winning team, doesn't really matter. In fact, most of the best rookies play
for horrid teams who had high picks in the NBA draft prior to the season.
Let's take a look at the candidates, one by one, and determine who has the
early lead for the award a quarter through the season.
First off is Yao, a player who looked to be on his way to a subpar season
in the first two weeks of the regular season. Since then, the lights have
went on and his confidence has soared. His teammates love having a 7-6 target
in the post who has soft touch anywhere around the basket. Currently, the
Chinese sensation is shooting over 60% from the field, an absolutely
mind-boggling figure. His upside is higher than anyone else in the class.
Next up is Drew Gooden, the fourth pick of the draft from Kansas who
has immediately made a name for himself with the Memphis Grizzlies. He is
a high-percentage shooter and absolutely tenacious on the glass. Playing
with Pau Gasol, Shane Battier, and Stromile Swift,
Memphis' future in the front court looks brighter than the sun on hot summer
day. Gooden runs the floor well and is a solid defender who figures to be
a fixture with the Grizzlies for years to come.
The third candidate is Jay Williams, the second pick of the draft who appears
to be fitting right in to the role of starting point guard on the Chicago
Bulls. Williams is tireless on the court and has the ability to make other
around him better. He is the best of all the youngsters on the Bulls roster,
and has shown it early in his professional career. Williams is solid in most
every facet of the game except for one -- free throw shooting. But that will
come with time.
Next up is Caron Butler, the small forward for the Miami Heat out of
Connecticut. Many experts projected Butler as the player in this class
"most ready" for the NBA. He's proven them right so far, settling right in
to Pat Riley's team with a well balanced game. Butler needs to improve
his shooting, but is solid in nearly everything he does on the court. The
Heat found a gem in this kid from U-Conn.
Two more youngsters complete this list, the first being Amare Stoudemire,
who is just six months removed from his high school days in Florida. This
younster has taken the NBA by storm with his amazing ability to fit right
in at such a young age. His transition in the early going has been much faster
than any other player who's made the jump from high school to the NBA. Stoudemire
plays tall around the basket and has the potential to be the game's best
rebounder. His athleticism and talent have the Suns drooling, and it's only
going to get better in the years to come.
Last is Nene Hilario, who came to the states from Brazil and is one of the
bright young stars on the Nuggets. Nene is a very versatile player with a
well-rounded game. He can score, rebound, dish, and is active on the defensive
end of the court, as well. His skills are still quite raw, but his future
is undeniably bright. On a Nuggets team filled with baby-faced players, this
one just might be the best.
In order to compare each rookie, what I did was take each of the five categories
and number where each player ranked in each one. Then I totaled up the numbers,
and the player with the smallest number came out to be the winner. Who is
he? Continue reading.
Here is the breakdown:
Points per game:
Rebounds per game:
Assists per game:
Steals per game:
1) Williams (tie)
1) Hilario (tie)
Blocks per game:
Here are the totals for each player:
1) Butler (14)
2) Yao (17)
3) Gooden (17)
4) Williams (18)
5) Stoudemire (19)
6) Hilario (19)
So there you have it, the rookie roundup. The statistics show that Miami's
Caron Butler is the most well-rounded rookie, and through one-fourth of the
NBA season, he has my vote as Rookie of the Year.