Race For Rookie Of The Year Gets Interesting Again

The Hornets are 5-14 and can’t stop the ball, and it’s early enough in the season for a comeback. Yes, this still sets up nicely for Anthony Davis.

He is back tonight and so is the race for Rookie of the Year, no matter how much it seems like Portland’s Damian Lillard has started to lap the field. He does have a lead, probably even a commanding lead, none of which is a surprise considering he began the season as the No. 2 contender behind Davis. But that’s different from insurmountable.

Davis, health willing, is that good. He can close ground on Lillard. Not only that, but after missing 11 games because of an ankle problem, he is in perfect position to create the contrast of the New Orleans Hornets with Davis and New Orleans without.

For now, we know the Hornets are 3-10 sans Davis and 2-4 with the top draft pick on patrol. The schedule sets up, too: his fourth game back, Sunday in Portland, is a matchup that will draw a lot of eyes even though the only way the two best rookies will go head-to-head is when Lillard charges toward the rim.

If Davis has no more significant injury setbacks beyond the usual tweaks every player endures, three-fourths of the season is more than enough showcase. Lillard might even want the competition. Win this way and he won’t have to face questions about whether Rookie of the Year ’13 was tainted by Davis trying to keep up with a hobble.

The strange thing is how easy it can be to overlook that Davis is such a talent. His defense got all the attention at Kentucky and he won Player of the Year awards by the dozen and a national championship. But this is a power forward who absolutely knows what to do with the ball, with a shot or pass. He was rarely on the court in the summer, missing summer league in Las Vegas for the experience of being with Team USA in the London Olympics but getting only 7.6 minutes, the fewest on the squad, there. His eyebrows got more of a spotlight in many cases than his game, even while opening with 16 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.20 blocks before the injury.

The ankle problem, a stress reaction that could have led to a fracture and much longer on the sideline if not addressed, was another moment that made it too easy to forget Davis’ potential impact. But no more. Starting tonight against the Wizards at New Orleans Arena, he is back in the Hornets lineup … and in the Rookie of the Year race.

16 Comments

  1. Jumppong says:

    Where’s BEAL? out there? who led the team in Losing??

  2. tyrone says:

    So far I think the candidates are Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Singler can be a potential candidate, Shved is another potential candidate until Rubio gets back.

  3. CHUCK NORRIS says:

    THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR IS OBVIOUSLY ROYCE WHITE! runner up Harrison Barnes

  4. dredd5150 says:

    Mr. Davis should just play SF. Anderson is a great stretch PF and with Lopez, that would be a dangerous front line.

  5. Bulls says:

    Lillard is the clear leader right now. The guy has been a monster and will be for the rest of this year, and years to come. No one can beat Anthony Davis though if he is playing at full health, and I say that only because he has the whole package. He is a tall slim build and is much quicker than 98% of any PF/C in the NBA right now, but he is very strong for his size. Also he is so athletic that if a bigger guy tries to take advantage of the size difference, he is able to compete just oh sheer athletic ability. He can hit the mid range jumper consistently, and can even stretch out to the 3 point line. He can take most PF/C of the dribble and can jump through the roof. Honestly, Davis is already close to being a better complete player than Blake Griffin. Maybe not yet, but defiantly has the potential to be by mid 2nd year, or start of his third year. He has the advantage of coming into the league already having a jump shot, and plays better team defense. Once he gets rolling, he will be tough to stop. Anyway I still think Lillard has a commanding lead right now, and will be tough to overtake because he is the best rookie PG, and is getting the playing time to keep this level of play up. This is good for the NBA because you can see the amount of talent these young guys have, and the competitiveness they have to win is outstanding. My personal favorite rookie this year is Harrison Barnes, and he could make a late push, but I don’t see anyone overtaking Davis, let alone Lillard.

    Going to be a good year. Go Bulls!

  6. dattebayo says:

    I haven’t seen all the rookies play, but I don’t think anybody can take ROY from Lillard, maybe Shved once Rubio gets back but I am doubtful. Lillard has the starting gig next to 2 allstar caliber players in Batum and Aldridge, that’s a clear advantage no other rookie has. He has a really good jumpshot and in some games he makes you think that he is a veteran because of the versatility in his game. I watched them play the Timberwolves and Lillard just picked on Love every time he could. Love was just back from injury and hadn’t practiced with the team and they had no communication on defense and Lillard and Mathews torched them. It really speaks for you, if you can see holes in the defense and take advantage the way Lillard did there. Also, his stats look better than those of some other starting point guards including Jeremy Lin, George Hill, Greivis Vasquez, Ty Lawson or Kemba Walker.

    • Arky says:

      Lillard plays like he’s been in the league 5 years. Imagine how good he’s going to be in 5 years.

      After a bunch of really disappointing guards drafted in the top 10 for several years, Irving and Lillard both look like perennial All-Stars in the making. Now all we need are some young star 2-guards to take over the mantle from Wade, Kobe and Joe Johnson. Besides James Harden, and Eric Gordon who never plays, who’s the best 2 guard in the league under 30? So many point guards, role players and old guys playing the 2 these days….

  7. javajim says:

    MKG still could pull it off if he gets aggressive

    • dattebayo says:

      He has the dunk of the year, that should be enough :P

      Why did he have to do that to the Wolves though, couldn’t he have done that in Staples?

  8. men says:

    what about dion waiters?