The Rookie Report: EJ and Al

Note:  I promoted this excellent post by citizen Redmosa to the front page.  It's timely, well written, well researched and contains lots of great links and background: nice work citizen.

EJ just moved up to numero quatro.

At about the time last year, Al was teetering on the number ten spot. I believe it's a testament of how good Eric Gordon really is.

Frankly I'm not surprised. However, I am rather shocked at Sir David Thorpe's rankings. I mean, I knew that Thorpe and the entire analyst crew at ESPN are biased against the Clippers (Ex: Al only hitting #8 in Thorpes final '07-'08 rankings, Philly making the better trade and us failing by getting Davis1, our best-case scenario being 30 wins at most, etc etc...), but honestly, give credit when it's deserved. But this isn't a bash ESPN post. I'm talking about our past two draft picks Al Thornton and Eric Gordon.

(You all might already know my standing towards Al, and some of you have expressed frustration and even more frustrations toward our sophomore forward, and indeed he has a long way to go in terms of technique, finesse, and basketball IQ.)

As were many of you, I was heartbroken to see our number six pick bumped to number seven when the Bulls were undeservingly handed the number one pick. At the time I was a pretty big fan of Jerryd Bayless, and seeing him still undrafted by our turn shocked me seeing as he could go as high as the number three pick. What shocked me even more was that Russell Westbrook, the unproven UCLA guard who had shown only glimpses of brilliance was picked at number four. When our turn came to pick from either Gordon or Bayless, I thought the choice was obvious... Why would we pick the guy who seemed undersized, like he could only play the 2, and often seemed prone to injuries? Well, we picked EJ and life moved on.

Now, I wasn't a believer in EJ (As I wasn't with Thornton), but watching him in Summer League was impressive to say the least. His shots weren't falling, but they looked amazing anyway; and when his shots didn't go in, he took it to the rim. The kid has a nose for scoring and knows how to score when one option isn't working. Hell, why not? I jumped on the EJ bandwagon as I did with Al and supported the rookie. The funny thing is, the two are following a similar pathway starting their careers off:


- Benchwarmer for the beginning of the season.

- Played more minutes when Patterson the vet was waived.

- The bright spot on an injury-plagued team

- Lit it up December onwards.



-Benchwarmer for the beginning of the season

- Played more minutes when Mobley is traded/retired

- The bright spot on an injury-plagued team

- Dominates from December onwards.


The dissappointing facts about Al's rookie season was that he was indeed snubbed from the rookie all-star game because of the forward-heavy draft class he was in (Which could be why the sophomores may lose this year with no big men or strong guards). However, he was able to make the first rookie team.

I have no doubt that EJ will make it to all-star weekend because he's making his strides earlier, more consistently, and in greater commodities (Al made a lot of statement games but not as many as EJ will probably make this year). First-team all-rookie? We'll have to see about that because of the rookies he's competing with.


Will we be seeing our two young Clippers at all-star weekend? Al Thornton vs Eric Gordon would be a huge happening for the Clippers we haven't seen since Elton Brand vs Darius Miles. If Al gets snubbed this year... Well, let's hope it doesn't because there ARE forwards who are playing more efficiently than Al right now. The franchise needs more publicity and I'd love nothing more than to see our past two draft picks playing against each other.

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