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NBA Rookie Of The Year Candidates

Posted by Craig Parsons on 4/7/2013 7:23:39 PM

When people in the legal online sports betting realm make predictions and assessments in any sport, not just NBA basketball, they often talk about the awards that will be handed out at the end of each season. In any sport, be it professional football or baseball or hoops, the rookie of the year always garners a considerable amount of attention, so it’s worth wondering who will snare his first precious piece of professional basketball hardware this spring as a first-year award winner.

In order to appreciate which youngster has held up the best in the NBA season, dealing with the pressure of these hardwood-and-nylon poker games on weeknights amidst a brutal travel grind, a recent article from USA Today offers a really good perspective. On April 2, NBA beat writer Jeff Zillgitt explained why New Orleans big man Anthony Davis has become such a noticeably improved rookie player. Yet, in making that explanation, Zillgitt underscored why Portland point guard Damian Lillard is still the clear favorite for the award, only by a smaller margin in the voting than anyone could have expected two or three months ago.
Here is Zillgitt’s central thesis, expressed in the main body of his article earlier this week on Davis:

“Late in his rookie season, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, is mastering two of the NBA's favorite plays: the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop. It's what NBA teams will see from Davis in future seasons. The Davis opponents see now is not the Davis teams saw earlier in the season. And that is by design.

"’Today's young guys are a bit different,’ Hornets coach Monty Williams said.’I don't think you throw them in the fire right away and put them in situations early where they can fail and lose their confidence. Now he understands what it takes. He still has a ways to go, but we're starting to see more confidence, more of him exploring, more of him taking chances.’"

“Earlier in the season, Davis scored often by running the floor, collecting offensive rebounds and otherwise making opportunities for himself. Now, New Orleans calls plays for him.

"’Just being more aggressive and trying to attack the basket and using my speed and athleticism to my advantage,’ Davis said.

“Since the All-Star break, Davis has averaged more points (15.1) and rebounds (9.3) and shot a better percentage (53%) than he did before the break. His percentage on shots 8-16 feet has also improved from 40.4% before the break to 44.1% after the break, according to NBA.com/stats. Davis was fine with the Hornets' plan to initiate him slowly to the pro game.

"’It's helped me a lot to see the game, explore the game and figure out how I want to play the game,’ Davis said. ‘Monty's done a great job bringing me into this system slowly, and I'm progressing each and every day.’"

Even people interested in football betting more than basketball betting should find it important to understand that Davis, while rounding into a complete player, is not where Lillard is. Davis, as you can see from the article above, has not been overloaded with minutes. He has played roughly 1,700 minutes to this point in the season. Lillard, by contrast, has played over 2,800 minutes, a workhorse by any standard. No other rookie comes remotely close to Lillard in terms of production over a sustained period of time with a high workload. Every reason why Anthony Davis has improved in recent weeks only affirms why Lillard has been the best rookie from day one of the season until now. Davis has been the best player in March, but Lillard’s been the rookie of the year since November.


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