From Chris to Arnau:
I was thinking randomly about a Rookie of the Year team from the last 20 years… A starting 5 and possibly a 6th man… We can do two teams… 1st team .. 2nd team. And write a paragraph per selection… would be cool to look at our back and forth on who deserves to be where.
From A to C:
Well, that’s as good a starting point as any other. I’ll start by giving you my take on the subject and giving you my 1st Team. Here’s the complete list from 1989-90 to last season. I’ve taken into account three main considerations: the actual ROY season itself, the follow-up and the medium and long-term performance.
1989-90: David Robinson
1990-91: Derrick Coleman
1991-92: Larry Johnson
1992-93: Shaquille O’Neal
1993-94: Chris Webber
1994-95: Jason Kidd, Grant Hill
1995-96. Damon Stoudamire
1996-97: Allen Iverson
1997-98: Tim Duncan
1998-99: Vince Carter
1999-00: Elton Brand, Steve Francis
2000-01: Mike Miller
2001-02: Pau Gasol
2002-03: Amar’e Stoudemire
2003-04: LeBron James
2004-05: Emeka Okafor
2005-06: Chris Paul
2006-07: Brandon Roy
2007-08: Kevin Durant
2008-09: Derrick Rose
As you are undoubtedly thinking now you could make a mean 15-man roster out of that list, and that’s precisely the number I’m cutting down to in the following paragraphs. I’ve eliminated the following guys from serious consideration before picking the Top 10.
- Mike Miller: 12 and 4 per his rookie season, 15 and 4 as a sophomore, 14 and 5 for his career spell nothing more than good journeyman.
- Damon Stoudamire: a 19-pt, 9-asst PG his first three seasons, an 11-pt, 5-asst gunner the next 12 years.
- Emeka Okafor: hasn’t topped his rookie season’s scoring average, never a franchise player, has yet to sniff the playoffs.
- Derrick Coleman: a 20 and 10 for his first five years, a me-first second banana on mediocre teams the following ten.
- Larry Johnson: lasted less than a decade, injury-prone, only posted excellent numbers during the watered down expansion era, best remembered for playing a granny in a sneaker commercial, signing a ridiculous contract and making a controversial four-point play.
- Steve Francis: played only 5 playoff games, played 70-plus games only 5 times, averaged 5 FGA for every 2 dimes he dished despite being a PG, fell off the face of the Earth after being split from Cat Mobley.
- Grant Hill: put up unreal numbers on the court his first six seasons before putting up unreal numbers on the operating table, never won a playoff series. Excellent character, great comeback, but you expect more than six above-average seasons from a ROY.
- Derrick Rose: good but not great rookie season, good but not great follow-up, not enough data to base any claims off. I do admit if we wrote this a decade from now he’d probably be the undisputed 1st Team PG, but I’m writing this in accordance to what has already happened.
Now that we have to eliminate another 10 guys, I’ll break the list down by position.
PG’s: Jason Kidd, Chris Paul
SG’s: Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Brandon Roy
SF’s: LeBron James, Kevin Durant
PF’s: Tim Duncan, Chris Webber, Elton Brand, Pau Gasol
C’s: Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Amar’e Stoudemire
I’ll address the positional gripes while I’m here: Amar’e played center his first year for most of the time despite being listed as a PF because the next options for Coach Johnson were Jake Tsakalidis and Jake Voskuhl (who went to high school with Chris Craft), and Pau Gasol played PF full-time before filling up his frame. Brandon Roy handled the ball most of the time despite being a SG because of Portland’s stagnant system, not because he was a point guard. Replace “Brandon Roy” with ”Allen Iverson” and “Portland” with “Philly” and the sentence stands. LeBron was a point forward with an emphasis on “forward”, thanks to the presence of superstar floor generals Jeff McInnis and Kevin Ollie along with perennial COY candidate Paul Silas. So that’s that. Now on to the All-ROY 1st Team of the past 20 years.
PG- Jason Kidd
His rookie stats were average thanks to being placed in a team loaded with gunners and me-first types like Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn. Still, he managed a 12, 5 and 8 and put up 4 triple-doubles. He followed it up by averaging 17, 7 and 10 as a sophomore. Is the active leader in career assists and steals, led the NBA in assists per game 5 times, has never finished off the Top 5 in APG since his rookie season and is the 7th active player in the career rebounds department while playing point guard. He has more career triple doubles than anyone not named Oscar or Magic. Kidd brought the fastbreak back to the Eastern Conference and led a pitiful Nets squad to consecutive NBA Finals appearances. He is widely regarded as the best defensive point guard of his era.
SG- Allen Iverson
I’ll give myself a shameless plug and simply quote myself. Here’s what I wrote about The Answer back in November:
“All AI did was average 29.9 ppg for a six-year stretch. He kept Philadelphia teams featuring such luminaries as Eric Snow, an over-the-hill Derrick Coleman, a disgruntled Glenn Robinson or a crippled Chris Webber as his main co-stars in contention for a top spot in the East. He won the 2000-2001 regular season MVP Award and led his team to 56 wins despite being the only Sixer who managed 12+ points per game. Once in the playoffs, with teams focused solely on stopping him, his scoring and assists numbers actually rose. He averaged 31 points and 8 assists per game in 2004-05, a season in which his highest-scoring teammate shot 39% from the field, and followed that up with a 31-10 line for the playoffs.
For 13 years, he has taken his pedestrian physique to battle against Herculean opposition without batting an eye. He’s chucked up as many shots as he’s taken crushing hits. He has played through injury, tragedy and franchise disarray and performed at peak levels. Despite David Stern’s concerns that The Answer’s persona would drive away the paying customer, AI did the exact opposite. He humanized the game, brought it closer to the everyday man. I don’t know any 7-footers, but I know a lot of skinny 5-10 kids who saw Allen Iverson as living, trash-talking, high-scoring proof that the sky’s the limit.”
SF- LeBron James
One of three people to average a 20-5-5 as a rookie, the other two being known simply as The Big O and MJ. His career numbers, 28, 7 and 7, compare favorably to Larry Bird’s and Michael Jordan’s. Made the NBA Finals in his fourth season, 2009 regular season MVP and two-time ASG MVP by the age of 24. James has turned a cursed franchise into a perennial contender. Put up a triple-double in his playoff debut, then had two more in the next series. He provided us with the defining moment of the past decade, scoring 25 straight and 29 out his team’s last 30 points in a road win over the defending Conference champion in Game 6 of the 2007 ECF. Nobody would be surprised if he won regular season MVP, DPOY and led the league in scoring in the same season. If that isn’t a strong argument I don’t know what is.
PF- Tim Duncan
I’ll let the numbers tell the story in this one. Rookie season: 21 and 12. Follow-up: 22 and 11, Finals MVP, NBA Champion. Career: 21 and 12. Four rings in eight years. His team has never failed to make the playoffs or registered less than 53 regular season wins*. Put up 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocks as the Spurs clinched the 2003 Finals in Game 6, averaging a 24-17-5-5 for the series. Add it all up, and you have the greatest power forward ever.
C- Shaquille O’Neal
The Big Aristotle redefined what a dominant player is supposed to be. In an era of high-flying sleek scorers, Shaq simply planted his big wide behind in the low post every trip down the court, backed his man (and occasionally one or two more) down, quickly spun and before you knew it had left the backboard shaking with a thunderous dunk. For the better part of two decades the most surefire path to a score was to dump it to Shaq and let him go to work. When he wasn’t dunking on your center, Shaq was kicking it out for open threes and clearing slashers’ way to the bucket. Despite being one of the worst free-throw shooters ever, dogging it through a large number of games and never actually developing a sophisticated go-to move, he is a Top-5 scorer in NBA history. He’s been a huge target for criticism, and sometimes rightly so, but at the end of the day he’s won 4 rings and is working on a 5th. When voting for a ROY, that’s certainly more than anyone can ask for.
*The Spurs obviously didn’t win 53 games in the lockout season, but their 37-13 record becomes a 60-22 record when stretched out to 82 games.
Chris, the ball’s on your court with the Second Team.
From C to A:
Okay Arnau… You’ve skimmed the cream from the top of the list, so now I’m left with scrubs. I joke, I kid. There will undoubtedly be some wise guy that will email us asking, “What about Kobe?” and I’ll tell the person that reading is fundamental. The Second Team features young stars who will most likely make up the First Team of the ’99 – ‘19 NBA All-ROY teams.
PG- Chris Paul (by default… but no slight)
16.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 7.8 and 2.2 steals from a six foot rookie (with shoes on) screams instant impact. His career numbers of 19.5, 4.8, 10, and 2 steals over the first five years of his career are more impressive than Jason Kidd’s 12.2, 5.5, 8.9, and 2.1 steals over his first five years. Throw in the fact that Paul shoots for a better percentage than Kidd and that he made Tyson Chandler slightly relevant offensively and you have a nice debate. Our First Team is comprised of more veterans with a longer history of success, but that shouldn’t stop us from realizing that CP3 is and will be the best point guard in the game for many years to come. He doesn’t have the playoff success of some his peers but he also doesn’t have much help around him. Let’s face it… David West is an one-dimensional player.
SG- Brandon Roy
He’s the quiet warrior that stealthily does his work in the often forgotten upper left corner of our country. He doesn’t care though because he plays for the right reason and deserves his Second Team All-ROY selection. His last name says so. He introduced himself professionally with rookie averages of 16.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, and 4 apg. His numbers haven’t fallen off one bit since his debut. In fact his scoring and super instincts continue to improve. There’s only one thing missing, and that’s learning to win in the post season… soon come.
SF- Kevin Durant (by default… but deserves to be here)
No one is talking about his infamous bench press fail anymore. At 6’ 9” with a 7’ 4” wingspan, this wiry wonder of an athlete is bringing a skill set and body type combination reminiscent of Tracy McGrady (with less baggage). Durant’s numbers are absolutely scary. The jumps in each statistical category prove that this fellow is on his way to many top ten Greatest of All Time lists. When comparing his inaugural ’07 – ’08 season to the current season, his scoring average has increased by 9.4 points per game, his rebounds (something that some pundits said would be his biggest career weakness by his rookie numbers) have increased by 3.1 per game, his field goal percentage by 5.5 percentage points, and his three-point percentage by 10 percentage points. He’s in a tough Western Conference owned by Kobe and Co.; but once Kobe rides off into the sunset, the West will belong to KD – an appropriate fate for the Texas-Ex.
PF- Pau Gasol
This is the only international player on either team if you don’t count Tim Duncan. Pau’s career and prestige was instantly boosted by the Grizzlies-Lakers trade (or robbery). He’s now a bona fide Hall of Famer, has two Finals appearances, and some bling to validate his belonging amongst the elite PFs of recent NBA history. Unlike some of his European big men predecessors, the young Pau brought a fiery energy and emotion to the NBA. His aggressive attacking style, playmaking skills, and shooting ability keeps his opponent off balance at all times. His game is a beautiful painting with several moods and themes on one canvas. A big myth is that Pau is soft. Because many of the American players at the “bigs” are strictly bruisers (save Rashard Lewis at PF, etc.), anything from the norm is often mislabeled. 18.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg, and 3.2 apg over a 10-year career with maybe one more ring to come is a resume to envy.
C- David Robinson
Everyone loves the Admiral, and it’s for good reason. His rookie season numbers of 24.3 ppg, 12 rpg, and 3.89 blocks are only rivaled by Shaq’s rookie numbers of 23-14-3.5 for the most dominant rookie center season of the modern era. His career included two NBA championships (’99 and ’03), a game in which he had a quadruple double, and a 71 point effort. His basketball talent was highly appreciated but his commitment to his country is the thing that ultimately won the nation over. The Spurs front office has a knack for finding the most wholesome yet dominating talent in the rookie draft, and it’s looking like the trend has continued with DeJuan Blair in 2009. With Duncan and Robinson, the Spurs stand alone as the only franchise that drafted two players represented on our All-ROY Teams.
That’s it folks. Let’s recap:
First Team NBA All-ROY (’89 – ’09)
PG: Jason Kidd
SG: Allen Iverson
SF: LeBron James
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Shaquille O’Neal
Second Team NBA All-ROY (’89 – ’09)
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Brandon Roy
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Pau Gasol
C: David Robinson