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Al Thornton and the Rookie Game

If you're looking forward to seeing Al Thornton in the Rookie-Sophomore game on All-Star weekend my advice is not to hold your breath, despite what Damon Andrews might say during KTLA telecasts.  He's certainly not a 'shoo-in'.  

Ralph and Mike and the Clipper organization are trying to make the case by pointing to the fact that Al is 8th among rookies in scoring.  But they only pick 9 for the game, and among the rookies who score less than him, Luis Scola and Sean Williams are 9 and 10 in scoring and they both start on playoff contenders.  Meanwhile, Glen 'Big Baby' Davis is going to get some consideration for contributing for the Celtics.  And Mike Conley may get in enough games between now and the vote to grab a spot.

As always, Al's candidacy is going to be negatively impacted by the Clippers' struggles.  Of course this matters much less in the Rookie game than in the big show, since rookies are so much more likely to be on bad teams.  But Scola and Williams and Moon are locks for playing well on decent teams, and Big Baby will get noticed for playing at all on a great team.

It's totally a mistake to focus on points per game.  Both Scola and Williams really are shoo-ins, leaving Al to battle with Daequan Cook and Davis and maybe Conley for the final spot.  Cook scores more than Al (although Al may catch him soon), so scoring is not the argument to use.

The best argument is to point to his steady improvement.  He's averaging 12 points per game on better than 50% shooting in January.  Cook, on the other hand, had a great November, but has shot less than 40% since then.  If Al has a few more games like he did against New Jersey between now and when the assistant coaches vote, then I think he'll squeeze in.  But as of now, he may be the odd man out.  I think it comes down to Al or Big Baby.