Top 10 Rookie Watch: Room to improve.
#1) Blake Griffin, Clippers
More than a better and more consistent jumper, Griffin needs to develop a thick skin when it comes to playing with fire despite his team's record. It's easy now because he's excited just to be playing and because the season is only 5 weeks old. But the Clippers likely will be favored in only one game for all of December (home versus the Kings), and they have only a few wins to this point.
It's hard to stay super hungry when playing on a bad team, but the Clippers are the rare bad team that has a bright future without having to do much restructuring. They just need to age well together.
Griffin is the heartbeat of the team and the franchise. If he can stay motivated and continue to play with an edge, the Clips can be a vastly improved team after the All-Star break, in no small part because he will force his fellow rookies and some of the veterans to do the same.
#5) Al-Farouq Aminu, Clippers
Let's begin with this: His 3-point shooting has been a revelation. From Nov. 20-28, he made 7-of-13 3s; on the season, he is shooting 54 percent on 3s (after Sunday's game). Wow. But his PER is below 13, which is surprising because of just how good a shooter he's been.
Why so low?
He does not earn free throws. (He's also a turnover machine, but we'll touch on that another time.) In that same five-game span, he took a total of five free throws. He is making just about one per game this season. Part of the problem is his willingness to settle into a Rasual Butler-type of clone -- floating outside and looking for the jumper. But that game suits Butler, who also was not a top-10 pick.
I'd like to see Aminu play with more fire, make stronger basket cuts, loiter around in the paint longer on offense, and find ways to use his length and shooting ability to create free shots from the line. He has it in him, without question.
#7) Eric Bledsoe, Clippers
I'm still impressed with Bledsoe's progress overall. And it's hard for a rookie point guard to focus on himself in an effort to get better, because it often comes at the expense of running his team (unless his focus is to move the ball better). For a point guard more than any other player, the game is about we, not me.
But, there is an area that I think Bledsoe can make a much bigger impact in, without hurting his ability to run the show. It's on defense, and specifically, it's about creating a lot more havoc.
His length, power and quickness can be a nightmare for opponents. Too often, that doesn't happen. Opposing point guards are killing the Clippers. In fact, no position is hurting them more than this one. Bledsoe has played in nine games where he's gotten major minutes and produced only one steal at best. He has the talent to do a lot more on this end.
— David Thorpe, ESPN Insider