The NBA Rookie of the Month awards were announced today, and they almost got it right. Derrick Rose was picked (again) in the East, and as I said earlier this week, he's the likely pick for Rookie of the Year at this point. In the West, the award was given to Kevin Love, which would have been my second choice after Marc Gasol. Once again, the voters were swayed by volume scoring (Love 15.8 ppg, Gasol 14.4) as compared to efficient scoring (Love 47% shooting, Gasol 56%). Yes Love is a terrific rebounder and led all rookies in that category last month. But Gasol did arguably everything else better. Oh well.
The other interesting development among rookies is the scoring duel between Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook. In mid-February I did some calculations and guessed when Gordon would pass Westbrook in points per game average. At the time, it looked like it would happen about game 58 on the season. In fact, Gordon essentially caught Westbrook a week later after game 55 following a couple of big scoring outings - and they've been neck and neck ever since. EJ probably would have pulled away had he not been injured and suffered through a mini-slump. Westbrook has increased his season average from 15 to 15.7 in the last 6 weeks, while Gordon has added a full point to his. For the last week or so, they've traded places in points per game on a near game by game basis.
Gordon's 25 against New Orleans on Wednesday put him back ahead for the time being: 15.732 points per game, versus 15.689. Westbrook plays tonight against Portland, and he can regain the lead if he scores 19 or more. Then it will be Gordon's turn against Denver.
For what it's worth, if Gordon can average around 24 points per game over the final 7, he can accomplish two things. (1) He can pass Danny Manning and Lamar Odom for the highest points per game average for an LA Clippers rookie (Terry Cummings' 23.7 in San Diego in the early 80s is safe of course). (2) He will likely pass Derrick Rose and be the second highest scoring rookie on per game basis this season. 24 per game over the final 2 weeks is a lot to expect, but a couple of 30 point outbursts in there and it could definitely happen.