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Tag:Kyrie Irving
Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:12 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 1:42 am
 

Report Card: Grizzlies drop kick Knicks

Posted by Ben Golliver 

grizzlies-knicks

Your nightly report card gives you a big picture look at what happened each night in the NBA. Grades are granted based on team or individual performances, and are graded on a curve for each element. Leave your own grades in the comments. 

Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies have had a turbulent start to their season, losing franchise forward Zach Randolph to injury and shaking up their roster in an attempt to compensate for the loss. Their 4-6 record indicates there have been plenty of struggles but they put on a pretty face for a national television audience on Thursday, drop-kicking the Knicks and leaving no doubt in a 94-83 victory. Rudy Gay led the way with 26 points on 16 shots, and while Memphis didn't shoot the lights out they scored at will when they needed to. Given New York's effort level recently, scrappers like Tony Allen (12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) and Marc Gasol (10 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks) were free to have a field day.

Kyrie Irving

The NBA's best kept secret keeps cranking out hits. If hype was dispensed purely on merit, Irving would eclipse Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio easily. Instead, he toils away for a forgotten Cleveland Cavaliers team that just happens to be at .500 after the first ten games of the season. He's been called mature, efficient and intellignet, but on Thursday he showed he was fearless, too, taking the game to Steve Nash in Phoenix to finish with 26 pointes, 6 assists and 2 steals. His 11-17 shooting helped compensate for the 6 turnovers. Irving is currently off to the best start of any rookie point guard in recent memory.

Dwight Howard

After complaining in Portland on Wednesday that he couldn't find an offensive rhythm this season, Dwight Howard destroyed Golden State's thin front line to the tune of 45 points and 23 rebounds. Howard made it to the free throw line an astonishing 39 times, smashing a 49-year-old NBA record, and added 1 blocks and 4 steals to his absurd stat line. Orlando didn't play nearly as crisply against the Warriors as they did in beating the Blazers the night before, but Howard's monster night ensured Orlando earned its third straight win to start a 4-game road trip, 117-109.

Jon Leuer

Jon Leuer? More like Jon Who-er? Am I right? Milwaukee's 22-year-old rookie forward has hit for double figures in three straight games for the Bucks, capped by a career-high 15 points in a 102-93 win over the Detroit Pistons. No basket was bigger than a late dunk in traffic that helped seal the win. Milwaukee didn't draw many fans on Thursday, but those who were there were on their feet to salute his all-around play. Leuer finished with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. Call this a hearty B+.  

Greg Monroe

He gets docked from an "A" only because it came in a losing effort (Detroit's sixth straight loss), but second-year Pistons center Greg Monroe had arguably the best individual performance of his career, tossing in a career-high 32 points and adding 16 rebounds. Detroit has such an oddly-assembled lineup that it's difficult to know who will be around in a few years if this team ever gets headed back on an upward trajectory, but Monroe's development sticks out as one clear positive indicator. Thursday marked his fourth double-double in 11 games so far this season.

Boris Diaw

Diaw is an easy target, in no small part because he's so big you can't miss him. The Bobcats got drilled by the Atlanta Hawks, 111-81, in the first game that Atlanta played without key big man Al Horford. Hawks coach Larry Drew inserted Zaza Pachulia into his starting lineup and played his starters heavy minutes. Diaw might as well not have shown up, finishing with zero points and 6 rebounds, all defensive, in 26 minutes.

New York Knicks

Name a way the Knicks can fail and you saw it on Thursday against the Grizzlies. Carmelo Anthony was lost to injury. Amar'e Stoudemire never bothered to show up. New York got beaten badly on the boards and couldn't stop Memphis' offense from pouring it on. Rookie point guard Iman Shumpert took 20 shots and his back-up, Toney Douglas, took 13. Combined the two guards shot an atrocious 8-for-33 and tallied 7 assists to 9 turnovers. Thanks to some garbage-time lead-cutting this one wound up as an 11-point loss but it played out more like a 25-point blowout.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:43 am
 
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 9:10 pm
 

Cavaliers use amnesty clause to waive Baron Davis

Posted by Ben Golliverbaron-davis-peace

The man who became the butt of hundreds of "he looks homeless" jokes is now officially without an NBA home, at least for the next few days.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers have elected to waive uber-hipster point guard Baron Davis using their amnesty clause. The decision does not come as a surprise but there was plenty of speculation as to whether Davis would stay or go, given the lack of talent on Cleveland's roster and the fact that this is sure to be a rebuilding year. The paper reports he experienced back pain associated with a "bulging disc" and is "expected to miss at least several weeks."

Davis was on the books for $13.9 million for 2011-2012 and had a player option worth $14.8 million for 2012-2013. The Cavaliers get to remove both of those numbers from their books, meaning they are positioned to be a fairly major player in free agency during the summer of 2012. 

In the meantime, the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 overall draft pick Kyrie Irving should take on a major role. Irving is a polished all-around point guard who is mature beyond his years, and the Cavaliers have Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions to make sure his transition to the pro game is a smooth one.

Newsday reports that Davis might be headed to the Big Apple, as the veteran point guard and the New York Knicks share "mutual interest." For that to happen, Davis must go unclaimed during the blind amnesty bidding auction that is restricted only to teams that are currently under the salary cap. If he makes it through that process without being claimed, he would be an unrestricted free agent and could sign wtih any team. The Knicks, having given up on their pursuit of New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul to sign center Tyson Chandler, are in desperate need of talented backcourt bodies. 

Davis, 32, was traded to the Cavaliers along with the draft pick used to select Irving by the Los Angeles Clippers last season in a deal that sent point guard Mo Williams to L.A. In 58 games for the Clippers and Cavaliers during 2010-2011, Davis averaged 13.1 points and 7.7 assists per game.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2011 7:58 pm
 

Irving still needs three months to be 100 percent

Posted by Royce Young



So maybe THIS is why Dan Gilbert's (reportedly) being so stubborn about a new collective bargaining agreement. He's just trying to hold out to give his No. 1 pick a little time to get completely healthy.

Via the Plain-Dealer, Kyrie Irving is still about three months from being "fully healed" from his broken foot. Don't worry Cavs fans, he's been practicing and conditioning without restriction and even says he's "150 percent."

Irving was still taken No. 1 overall despite only appearing in 11 games at Duke during his freshman season. Why? His talent is pretty much undeniable.

The question is though, what's this mean for the Cavs if the season starts on time Nov. 1? Will Irving trot out as the starter? Will Byron Scott rest him for those couple weeks to get him entirely healthy? Is he eased in? Is Baron Davis the starter and if so, how fat will he be?

Obviously Irving's pretty much fine, but a broken foot isn't something to mess around with. They can alter careers, especially if you have a setback. That's why it's best to take it slow for Irving and make sure that he's completely healed, according to doctors, fans, himself, the janitorial staff -- whoever. You're rebuilding, there's no big rush. It's easy to rag on Baron Davis, but the Cavs do have the luxury of easing Irving into the rotation. They have a proven starter already that can handle the load. Heck, that might be the plan regardless of Irving's health.

So fear not, Cavs fans (and Cavs Dan). Irving probably wouldn't prefer the extra time an extended lockout would give him anyway. I mean, he's only played 11 games over the past year and half. I'm sure he's itching to get on the court again.
Posted on: July 16, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Some teams are probably missing Summer League

Posted by Royce Young



The NBA's annual Vegas Summer League would be wrapping up right about now. Young players would be finishing up a week of gambling, partying and hopefully, at least for their coach, getting better.

Summer League has always been sort of approached by most as nothing more than a perk of July, just something to sort of help bridge the gap. Nobody really pays attention to it except for the hardest of hardcore fans, general managers, scouts and coaches. And bloggers. Summer League basically is blogger paradise, because it's something to write the crap out of for a couple of weeks in mid-July.

Except this summer, because of the you-know-what, there is no Summer League. No rookies to overhype because of a good, random game against a bunch of D-Leaguers. No second-year fringe players to latch onto and get excited about because of a quality week. And no players to completely write off because of a 2-12, five-turnover game. For shame. For damn shame.

And while most just write off what happens in Vegas as unimportant, any time players take the court and compete, there's something of value there for the players, the organization and the coaches. Basketball is about development. It's about getting better. Summer League is a vehicle for new draft picks to get a feel of pro basketball and a feel of playing with a couple of teammates. It's a place for guys to prove themselves a bit. In reality, it's kind of important, even if it's generally ignored by the general basketballing public.

But I can guarantee you a good number of teams were mighty disappointed when Summer League fell through because of the lockout. There's progress to be made, and a week in Vegas is an excellent place to start, especially for rookies. Some teams and players are going to feel the sting of missing out on the opportunity. Here are the ones I see feeling it most.

Minnesota Timberwolves
No team would've benefited more than Minnesota's young roster. First, it would've been the first look at Ricky Rubio on American soil. He would've played against NBA talent and had a chance to run the show for his new team.

It also would've given all of us a chance to rush to snap judgments about his game and, therefore, his career, based on a couple of Summer League games. It would've been great.

But on top of some run for Rubio, Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson and a few other youngsters could've put away a week or so of games. Every second those guys play together, the better they'll get. They need time to develop, and Summer League is a place for that. Instead, it's going to have to happen on some private court without any coaches. Not the ideal situation for young players to learn and improve.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Pretty much the same scenario for the Cavs as it is for the Wolves, or any young team with talent. Kyrie Irving could've used the extra time on the floor, but not just because he could get a feel for offense or learn the pace of the NBA game or anything. For Irving, it's more that he just needs to play, period.

He only played in 13 games for Duke last season and after returning from his foot injury, played a couple of games in the NCAA tournament. He has barely played any competitive basketball at all in the last year. For a 19-year-old, that's not a good thing. The more play you get, the farther you move ahead.

Not to mention the No. 4 overall pick, Tristan Thompson, getting some play, too. Obviously, that would be great, but to me, it's more about Irving. It's his franchise now, and the objective in Cleveland now is moving him along. Something small like Summer League is one of the first steps forward in doing that.

Sacramento Kings
The Kings' inclusion really is more of a selfish reason. Because with Summer League, you know that every game with Jimmer Fredette woudl be a total experience. Vegas is close to BYU, and Jimmer has quite the following in the area. But, really, it could be in Maine and The Jimmer would walk in like a rock star.

The Kings do need him and Tyreke Evans, though, to get some experience playing together. Who's running point? Is it Jimmer? Is Reke going to handle those duties too? Are they going to tag-team it like Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry? These are some of the questions you can sort of at least start to find answers for, if only they were actually playing.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Despite reaching the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder really do have a ton of room to grow. The roster is extremely young with some pieces that need developing. Two of the most important being Cole Aldrich and this year's pick, Reggie Jackson.

With Aldrich, he simply needs to play a little. He spent most of his rookie season in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers, and while that's good for development, Summer League gives him a chance to be a focus in a competitive setting as well as a primer for what he needs to work on heading to fall camp. Aldrich is far from a lost cause, and the Thunder are willing to stay patient. But part of that being patient comes because you think a guy is going to improve. And to do that, he's got to play.

With Jackson, Summer League could've helped signal a little where he might fit in. Is he a point guard? Shooting guard? Combo guard? Is he a scorer the Thunder want to use off the bench next season? Is he someone that even will challenge for minutes? The Thunder clearly liked Jackson enough to promise him a spot in the first round, but without him working out for anyone before the draft, he's still largely an unknown for everybody.

Miami Heat
Yes, seriously, the Heat. No doubt that for the most part, the roster is set. LeBron, Wade and Bosh handle pretty much all of the heavy lifting, and veterans Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem pick up the remaining slack.

But the Heat need to develop young talent. Players like Dexter Pittman need an opportunity to grow a bit. Where the Heat lacked most last season was having cheap, young talent to infuse with LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Instead, Pat Riley went with trying to work in guys like Mike Bibby, Juwan Howard, Eddie House and whoever else was willing to take the veterans minimum to chase a title.

A week in Vegas for Miami's youngsters like Pittman and rookie Norris Cole could go a long way to restructuring the role players on the roster. And on top of that, it's a chance to maybe scout three or four other unsigned guys to take a look at later on. Miami needs some young talent, and the Vegas Summer League is one of the best places to look.

Washington Wizards
John Wall is going to be a star. I don't have any doubt. But he's still raw and still has a whole lot to learn about running a team. I remember how much Summer League did for Russell Westbrook a couple of years ago as he was prepping for his second season. It helped Westbrook learn how to slow down a bit, learn when to look for a shot, when to look to set up and when to push. Wall would've been the best player in Vegas, much like Westbrook was always on another level when he was there. But it taught him how to play under control -- to a degree -- while also being able to run around anyone. That would've been a good lesson for Wall.

Then there's Jan Vesely, who is mostly a mystery as he prepares to maybe step in as Washington's new small forward. We know he can jump and dunk, but can he defend? Can he rotate over and help? Can he shoot? If Wall and Vesely are the offensive attack of the future for the Wizards, having them play together, if even for just a week, would be huge.

Utah Jazz
Even more than Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter hasn't played competitive basketball in a long time. He was forced to sit out all of 2010-11 for Kentucky because of a NCAA violation, and while he's had some workouts and a little five-on-five action here and there, he hasn't been in a real game setting since he moved from Turkey to the United States. The Jazz liked him enough to take him fourth and maybe force a re-shuffling up front, so obviously they're invested in the young big man.

And on top of him, don't forget the Jazz had another lottery pick in wing Alec Burks, who could surprise a lot of people as an NBA-ready scorer. He was terrific at Colorado as he sort of came out of nowhere to climb into the lottery. A little burn for both him and Kanter could've gone a long way for the Jazz, who are committed to the youngsters in life after Deron.
Posted on: July 9, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:39 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Central Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Central Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derrick-rose-dunk

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division and the Atlantic Division. Let's continue this series with the Central Division.  

CHICAGO Bulls


The Bulls won the Central by a preposterous margin in 2010-2011, stacking up a league-high 62 wins and burying their division mates by a ridiculous 25 games, by far the biggest margin of any division winner. Nothing has happened yet this offseason which suggests next year's results will be any different. Even if the Milwaukee Bucks return to full health or the Indiana Pacers make a key free agent addition or the Detroit Pistons finally emerge from their slog or the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully start the Kyrie Irving era, the only thing stopping the Bulls from running away from the competition again is an injury to Derrick Rose. The Bulls are, by far, the most talented and deepest team in the division. They have the reigning MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. They're poised to be championship title contenders for the next five years.

With so much going for them, the Bulls clearly have the most to lose in a lockout. If a season is lost, that's a title chase that evaporates. Perhaps most important, the Bulls would lose that visceral desire for redemption that comes with the ugly end to their season. It was a disappointing, frustrating loss to their new archrivals, the Miami Heat, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The pain of that loss subsides with time. It's ability to serve as unifying inspiration will fade too. The Bulls want revenge and they want rings. The pieces are in place. Besides aging teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, who face the possibility of their championship window closing, the Bulls don't want to sit around and wait. They created some amazing chemistry last season, built strong trust bonds. Losing a season risks all of that.

INDIANA PACERS

The upstart Pacers are up to something: they finally committed to Frank Vogel as their coach, they brought on former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to serve as Director of Player Personnel, they made a solid draft day trade to acquire point guard George Hill and they sit on a mound of cap space ready to make a splash in free agency. The Pacers risk two things if a season is lost. First, a critical development year to see how their young pieces are able to gel together. Second, A feeling of certainty in terms of team expectations.

Indiana has assembled some nice, young talent: Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and Hill are all 25 or younger. Depending on how they use their cap space and whether they decide to move Danny Granger, that has all the makings of a promising core that could reliably make playoff runs for the foreseeable future. But the group needs time to spend together, reps to get things right and an evaluation period to see whether all four belong long-term. They look great on paper but more data -- playing together -- is needed. A lost season risks that and potentially stalls the development of those younger guys.

The real risk is free agency. Indiana has just $36 million committed in salary next season, meaning they have one of the smallest payrolls in the league. They also have an expiring contract in James Posey to move and potentially could move Granter if they were looking to make a major splash. Their combination of flexibility and talent on-hand is near the tops in the league when it comes to rebuilding teams. A delayed season pushes that promise back and while teams with space are definitely sitting in a better position than teams without space, it's unclear what additional rules might be in place that inhibit free agent movement. If you're the Pacers you'd prefer to be able to chase a guy like David West now without any messy collective bargaining negotiations getting in the way. Put simply, the Pacers are a team on the rise, but a lot has to go right for young teams to reach their potential. Even minor things can throw a team off course. The less variables, the better. Unfortunately, the CBA is a major, major variable.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

lockoutThis team is just confusing. The Stephen Jackson trade made a bit of sense, given that the Bucks needed a serviceable alternative to Brandon Jennings at point guard and got one in Beno Udrih, but this group isn't going anywhere meaningful, not even if Jennings and center Andrew Bogut are fully healthy. 

About the only thing lost in a lockout for the Bucks is another year for Jennings to bloom. His sophomore years was sidetracked by injuries and poor outside shooting, and he questioned his teammates' desire to win at the end of the regular season. Other than Jennings, Larry Sanders and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could use more developmental minutes but the rest of the roster is essentially veterans who have reached their potential. 

From a cynical standpoint, Bucks ownership could be cheering a lost season because it would mean cash savings on ugly deals for Jackson and big man Drew Gooden. Is it worth saving the combined $15 million that will go to Jackson and Gooden in 2011-2012 to lose a year of floor leadership training for Jennings? 

DETROIT PISTONS

The Pistons are another confounding mess, but at least it feels like they've turned a corner thanks to the sale of the team, the departure of reviled coach John Kuester and the drafting of point guard Brandon Knight and wing Kyle Singler. Last year was one, long, ugly grind. 2011-2012 figures to be a step in the right direction.

Knight slipped out of the top five of the 2011 NBA Draft because of questions about his position. Is he a pure point guard? Can he run an NBA offense? Will he be able to execute something besides the pick-and-roll game? His future is incredibly bright but as a one-and-done player he absolutely needs as much playing time as possible to get a feel for the NBA style and to get comfortable with the ball in his hands and a team of professionals that look to him first. There's no other way to learn the point guard position than by on-the-job training, and recent success stories like Rose and Russell Westbrook only reinforce that idea. A year away from the game at this stage would be a critical loss for Knight and the Pistons, and that's a major risk.

The same is true, to a lesser degree, for big man Greg Monroe, who came on strong in the second half of his rookie season and appears to be a potential core piece going forward. 2011-2012 is all about letting Knight and Monroe build up a chemistry together 

A lost season would certainly be welcomed by ownership here too because Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva all failed to live up to their big-dollar contract figures last season. Hamilton and Villanueva, in particular, seem like lost causes. Weighing the savings from these deals versus the lost development of Knight, the Pistons should probably be pretty close to indifferent when it comes to losing a season. They need work, they know they need work and the rebuild can only come as these big contracts get closer to their conclusion and become more tradeable. Still, it would seem to be better to continue that journey with Knight getting more familiar and comfortable day-by-day, month-by-month than it would having him workout solo in a gym somewhere. If you've committed to a rebuild, start it immediately.
 
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Last but not least, we have the Cavaliers, the NBA's second-worst team from last season, who endured an embarrasing 26 game losing streak to set an NBA record for consecutive futility. There's significant light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavaliers, as they have an owner committed to spending money to win, the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson, who was taken No. 4 overall. 

Cleveland is in much the same position as the Pistons: the biggest risk from losing a season is the lost reps that Irving won't get running the show. There are always some bumps and bruises for a young point guard transitioning from college to the NBA, and the potential for struggles is even more pronounced in Irving's case because he missed much of last season, his freshman year at Duke University, with a foot injury. Time away from the game is not good. The shorter, the better. Irving was clearly the most NBA-ready point guard in this year's draft crop and the Cavaliers would be smart to turn the keys over to him from Day 1, even with veterans Baron Davis, Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions on the roster as well. 

That raises a secondary risk of the lockout season for the Cavaliers: losing positional clarity. Cleveland clearly needs to move one, if not two, of their point guards to clear the deck for Irving and surround him with some solid complementary pieces. A lost season just delays that process. Saving the money from Davis' contract is tempting, but it's a non-factor for owner Dan Gilbert who would just as soon pay that tax to watch his young team start the rebuild. Along those same lines, an entire season lost could mean the Cavaliers aren't able to move Antawn Jamison's $15 million expiring contract, a nice trade asset that could potentially bring a rotation player in return.

Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:04 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Kyrie Irving files police report against stalker

Kyrie Irving has filed a police report seeking a restraining order against a Twitter stalker. Posted by Ben Golliver. kyrie-irving

Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, hasn't yet signed his rookie deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers because of the lockout, but he's already taken a major step on the road to becoming a professional athlete.

Over the weekend, WOIO.com reported that Irving filed a police report seeking a restraining order against a woman who had been stalking him over Twitter.
The woman is identified as Jessica Jackson also known as Miss Hawaii.

According to the West Orange Police report, Irving says he met Jackson once in person in front of a hotel in Charleston, S.C., for two minutes. The two had a short conversation and then went their separate ways.

Irving says Jackson then posted some videos on YouTube blasting him and allegedly threatened to stab him via his Twitter account.
A Montclair Patch report clarified that the meeting between Irving and Jackson occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina.
 
In a post appropriate for those 18 years and older, BlackSportsOnline.com reports that the woman has a criminal background and a history of sordid behavior. 

Irving is a sharp guy who told reporters the day before the draft that he plans to return to Duke University to continue work on his degree if the lockout extends into the fall. The lesson here, probably, is that if Irving can find himself mixed up in a situation like this then any NBA player can.

Hopefully this will be the last we hear of it.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:16 pm
 

Derrick Williams is Rookie of the Year favorite

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is the odds-on favorite to win 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derrick-williams-large

Derrick Williams might have been the No. 2 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, but he's sitting in the pole positon to win the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year award. 

Bodog.com
has released its early odds for which member of the Draft Class of 2011 will take home the Rookie of the Year award. Williams, a dynamic combo forward out of Arizona, leapfrogged one-and-done Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers, to claim the No. 1 spot. The No. 10 selection, BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, selected by the Sacramento Kings, also finished ahead of Irving.

Here's a look at the top 10. Strictly for entertainment purposes only.

Why does Irving slide? Two reasons. To win Rookie of the Year, you must be as NBA-ready as possible and have the opportunity to play boatloads of minutes so that you can accumulate stats.

In Irving's case, he missed a good chunk of his rookie season at Duke, raising questions about how ready he is to be an impact player in the NBA from Day One. Second, the Cavaliers have a muddled point guard position with Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions and Boobie Gibson hanging around. That will likely get sorted out before next season rolls around, but it will be difficult to trade Davis, who is sure to get some serious burn.

Williams, on the other hand, is arguably the best physical specimen in this year's class. The Timberwolves have nothing to lose and, while Michael Beasley is on the roster and has a similar game, Minnesota has every incentive to turn Williams loose. With Rubio in the fold, look for the Timberwolves to continue to play an up-tempo game, with Williams given the green light to shoot and attack as often as he likes. One possible area of concern: Williams and Rubio, by virtue of playing on the same team, could cancel each other out.

Fredette represents the dumb money on this list. With no limit on his shot attempts in college, he compiled absurd scoring numbers. While he enters Sacramento figuring to get plenty of minutes, Tyreke Evans will command a very large chunk of the team's possessions, as will emerging big man DeMarcus Cousins. If Fredette doesn't defer, he will be marginalized. Ownership might be infatuated with him, but winning over his teammates is far more important.

Kanter appears to be more NBA-ready than most, but he enters a very crowded frontcourt in Utah. Surely he will carve out a solid role. But will it be enough to put up real numbers?

One solid dark-horse candidate: Kemba Walker. While he might not start from Day One because of D.J. Augustin, Walker will find plenty of available minutes in Charlotte's torn-down backcourt. The Bobcats are entering Year One of a major rebuild and thus will have Walker's development as a top -- perhaps the top -- priority. He enters the NBA after three years in college, and he proved that he was a star on that level. 

Ultimately, I would expect this to boil down to a three-man race between Williams, Irving and Walker. Williams is a worthy early favorite.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com