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Rookie Challenge - Quick Thoughts

The Rookie Challenge Rosters were announced today.



Jonny Flynn, T-Wolves

Russell Westbrook, Thunder

Brandon Jennings, Bucks

Derrick Rose, Bulls

Tyreke Evans, Kings

Eric Gordon, Clippers

Stephen Curry, Warriors

O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies

James Harden, Thunder

Michael Beasley, Heat

Omri Casspi, Kings

Danilo Gallinari, Knicks

Jonas Jerebko, Pistons

Kevin Love, T-Wolves

Taj Gibson, Bulls

Brook Lopez, Nets

DeJuan Blair, Spurs

Marc Gasol, Grizzlies

It's no surprise that Eric Gordon is on the team.  In fact, there are no surprises on the Sophomore team at all.  The nine second year players going to Dallas are the nine leading scorers in their class.  There are only a handful of other sophomores who are starting for their teams this season - Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts in New Jersey, Jason Thompson in Sacramento, Roy Hibbert in Indiana, Luc-Richard Mbah-a-Moute, sometimes Marreese Speights in Philly - but it would be difficult to make a case for any of those guys to be in the game.  Had Oden not gotten hurt, it still would not have been particularly tough.  He would have been there instead of Gallinari.

On the Rookie side, it's a lot trickier.  The problem, as it usually is, is the positional distinctions.  In this game, the assistant coaches are instructed to choose four smalls, four bigs, and one wild card.  Well, in today's NBA smalls tend to have more of an impact as rookies, and that's particularly true this season.  It didn't help that Blake Griffin is missing the season or that Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill are stiffs, but other than Casspi, none of the bigs on this Rookie team were drafted in the lottery - Blair and Jerebko were second rounders! 

Obviously San Antonio found another gem in the second round with Blair, but Jerebko (and Gibson for that matter) seems to be there by default.  His PER is under 12, which if you buy into PER means he's well below average as an NBA player.  Meanwhile, a quality small like Ty Lawson (second best PER among rookies at 17.2) are missing the game because of the numbers requirements.

Eric Gordon's Dunk-in opponent, DeMar DeRozan, did not make the squad either (not that he deserved to).  So Eric will go from the bench to the competition, while DeRozan will come out of the stands - aw-kward.  Were they trying to pick two guys who would be in the game?  It's hard to say, but DeRozan didn't really have that great a chance.  Meanwhile, Gordon remains a strange choice as well.  Although he's a freakishly good leaper (his vertical was measured at 40 inches at the pre-draft combine, better than Wussell Restbwook, equal to Derrick Rose, better than DeRozan), he's not really a dunker.  Either you're a dunker or you're not, and EJ is not.  For one thing, his hands are smallish, and that's a major disadvantage in a dunk contest.  So one wonders why the organizers didn't go with a mathcup of, say, Restbwook (insane athlete, loves to dunk) versus Jonny Flynn (40 inch vertical, gets the little guy vote like Nate).

Maybe EJ will surprise us.  It's nice that he'll get some national exposure at any rate.