John Wall wasn’t the only rookie to hit the hardwood running last night. DeMarcus Cousins, picked four spots after his former Kentucky teammate, also made quite an impression on Hang Time after the first full evening of preseason action.
Get that Rookie of the Year race cranked up.
Cousins bullied his way to 16 points and 16 boards in the Kings’ win over Phoenix. The hype machine is already rolling, as Jason Jones shares in the Sacramento Bee.
The marketing types took a liking to DeMarcus Cousins months before he had played a game at Arco Arena, as evidenced by the poster of the Kings rookie on the side of Arco.
But the hype would mean little if Cousins didn’t have any game to back up the hoopla.
One exhibition game into his NBA career, Cousins justified the excitement.
The reviews were somewhat mixed for a few other rooks. The second and third picks squared off, sort of, as Philadelphia took on New Jersey in Roanoke, Va. The Sixers trotted out No. 2 selection Evan Turner, while the Nets followed with follow-up Derrick Favors.
According to Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
For the Sixers, there were some positives: Rookie Evan Turner scored 12 points, the team finished with 22 fastbreak points, and backups Jodie Meeks and Craig Brackins looked like decent contributors. And there were a few negatives: The offensive execution was occasionally suspect, the discrepancy in three-point shooting was alarming, and the first-half interior defense struggled.
Favors did Evans a basket better, earning praise from the Little General in Ben Couch’s account at Nets.com:
“It was good,” said coach Avery Johnson. “When I took him out of the game in the first half, he thought I took him out for a defensive mistake, but I said, ‘No, you just need a break.’ I liked his enthusiasm. He’s real confident about what he’s doing. The other day, I was sharing with him that he had done something I had never taught him. And he said, ‘Coach, I can do a lot of things that you haven’t taught me.’ I thought, ‘That’s pretty good.’”
Another first-year player of note returned in Portland. Blake Griffin, last year’s No. 1 pick, begins anew after missing an entire year. Mike Tokito of The Oregonian was on the scene:
One of the more anticipated aspects of Tuesday’s game between the Blazers and Clippers was the re-debut of Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin, who missed the entire 2009-10 season.
Griffin started at power forward and played 22 up-and-down minutes. He finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two steals.
“It felt good,” said Griffin, who sat out 2009-10 after having surgery to repair a fractured left patella.