Which NBA rookie has been the biggest surprise?

November 15, 2010

Asik on the radar

K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

Time to break out the homer hat.

Omer Asik has been the biggest rookie surprise mostly because he had been shrouded in such mystery since the Bulls burned three second-round picks to acquire his draft rights on draft night in 2008.

"Eventual lottery talent," is what one scout said then. But then came a blown-out knee. And then a fractured collarbone. And then questions about his skill level even as he helped host country Turkey take the silver medal at this summer's world championships.

Asik is still raw. He can't shoot free throws. And he'll have his games of foul trouble. But he's also a legitimate 7-footer with a high motor who runs the floor well and is completely unfazed by the physical nature of the NBA. That's rare for a rookie. He's not afraid to rebound in traffic. And he's finally no longer a mystery.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Bledsoe rising fast

Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel

How much of an afterthought was Eric Bledsoe on draft night? The draft slot utilized to select the point guard out of Kentucky initially was dealt by the Heat to the Thunder. The Thunder, in turn, dealt Bledsoe's rights to the Clippers.

That positioned Bledsoe to be little more than a postscript to the selection process, locked into a future behind Baron Davis, effectively the Clippers' "other" rookie behind Blake Griffin.

Now? With Davis pulling his all too familiar indifference act, Bledsoe sets up as coach Vinny Del Negro's wing man, if you will, a player who may have as much to do with the direction of the franchise as anyone on the roster this side of Griffin, the rare No. 18 pick who matters, matters a lot.

iwinderman@tribune.com

Cousins has the game

Zach McCann

Orlando Sentinel

What's not surprising is that Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has already been fined for clashing with his coaches. The knock on Cousins, the fifth overall pick in the draft, was always immaturity.

But outside of his erratic behavior, Cousins has displayed remarkable polish in his game for a 20-year-old. He's averaging 10.9 points and six rebounds per game and had a double-double Oct. 30 against the Cavaliers.

Generally, young big men are labeled "projects" because their skills aren't up to par with their bodies. For Cousins, his head isn't up to par with his skill.

If he can learn to get along with his coaches and come together with his teammates, Cousins' first few weeks have shown that his skills are refined enough to make him one of the best big men in the NBA.

zmccann@tribune.com

Rate Wall at No. 1

Baxter Holmes

Los Angeles Times

The Great Wall is greater than we thought.

A triple-double six games into his career. Leading the league in steals (3.2). Ranking fourth in assists (10.4).

Sure, being drafted No. 1 overall necessitates heavy expectations.

But John Wall's transition at basketball's most complex position seems as simple as his self-titled dance, which requires only a biceps flex and a rotation of the adjoining wrist.

What Wall has done through just a few games — make the Wizards a threat on any night, throw himself into All-Star discussions, make Gilbert Arenas seem expendable — is unheard of.

Will he hit the so-called Rookie Wall? Probably. But right now he's setting the standard.

bholmes@tribune.com

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