With the NBA season just around the corner and summer league games in the rear view mirror, here's my best guess at the top 5 NBA rookies. My Fav Five, if you will.
1. Greg Oden - C - Portland Trailblazers - Oden is massive. Not just 7-1 massive, but 290 massive. Oden very well could start all season for a team that was 41-41 last year. From a numbers standpoint, Oden should at the very least lead all rookies in two major categories; blocks and rebounds. Oden is immediately one of the best defensive bigs in the game and will defend the likes of Duncan, Ming, and the rest of the West's bigs night in and night out. So, his learning curve will/must be fast. Couple that with a playoff birth in the ultra competitive Western Conference and you have your rookie of the year. "But he may get hurt." The last ROY to play all 82? Amare Stoudamire in 2002. Of course, there is concern about his overall ability to stay off the IR. I'm optimistic. If he stays relatively healthy during 08-09 he should run away with the award.
2. Michael Beasely - PF/SF - Miami Heat - The 2009 ROY runner up will be Michael Beasely. Beasely will be coming into a fantastic situation in which he should be starting from day 1. If Miami is going to be competitive next year they will need to do a couple things. 1, find some way to keep Dwayne Wade's off the deck and 2, average more then their league worst 91.4 points per game. By adding the NCAA's leading scorer last year to the Big 12/Eastern Conference Miami should be okay and Beasely should be able to play his game. AND if/when Wade needs to be life flighted from American Airlines Arena for tendinitis in his elbow he will be taking/making a ton of shots.
3. Derrick Rose - PG - Chicago Bulls - I get the feeling that Chicago will wait to dump Kirk Hinrich until around the trade deadline next year (Blazers, don't do it) . This means Rose will be coming off the bench. Why? Because if Chicago is going to somehow dump Kirk and his $36.5 million over 4 years left on his deal they better upgrade his value just a tad. With that said, Rose will be all over ESPNs top 10's in his rookie year. His quickness and athleticism are hard to match even at the next level which will get him votes.
4. Russell Westbrook - SG/PG - Oklahoma City Thunder - He should be able to put up solid numbers (Including TOs) next year in OKC's "lets run for the sake of running" offense. Westbrook is regarded as a lock down defender and if you have watched pac-10 ball in the last year or the NCAA's you understand Russell can flat out play. Kind of a "tweener" but that shouldn't be too much of a problem in that offense. TOs will happen, but in this competition it doesn't necessarily matter. See last years ROY with an assist to turnover ratio less than 1.
5. Marc Gasol - C - Memphis Grizzles - If Chris Wallace doesn't trade brother Gasol for pennies on the dollar, Marc should work his way into the starting lineup before the All-Star break. After seeing his mammoth body in the Olympics I have very little doubt that the 7-1 Gasol can play at the next level. He looks like a non-sissified version of his brother. Unfortunately for Marc, that includes his finesse. On another note, how good does Memphis's future suddenly look? I can't believe it. Conley, Mayo, Gay, Warrick (your job is in question with newly acquired Darrell Arthur waiting for you to screw up), and Gasol have some real long term potential.