Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

December 14, 2009
NBA Plus-plus: Talking Tyreke and the ROY race

So I barely squeezed in the old 'East-Coast bias' angle in Sunday's NBA page, with the lead discussing the fact that some folks still inaccurately think that Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings is running away with the Rookie of the Year award.

There is still some truth to that, but far less than there was about a week ago. The top-notch play of Kings rookie guard Tyreke Evans is officially being noticed, and there's no better indicator than the fact that he sits atop the rookie rankings for ESPN (ESPN Insider only), Sports Illustrated (which had the headline 'Jennings clear No. 1...' the week prior) and NBA.com.

There is still a long ways to go for all involved, and that includes the Clippers' Blake Griffin. The first overall draft pick out of Oklahoma continues to work his way back from a stress fracture in his left knee that has kept him out all season but still has a ways to go before his return.

But Grant Hill's advice applies at anytime, and to anyone. The 14-year forward who won the 1994-95 Rookie of the Year award dispensed some of his veteran wisdom when we chatted in Phoenix last week. His main point is that we are fast approaching Phase Two for all these rookies, who may have surprised at the start but who may have a tougher time doing so from here on out.

"One thing with rookies is that when you come in, you have about a 20-game grace period (with opponents)," Hill said. "It takes a little while, especially if you're good, for teams to figure you out; to figure out what your tendencies are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and then it becomes more difficult. The thing I'd encourage both of them (Evans and Jennings) to do is to continue to work on their games, and not get complacent, because it gets harder as the season wears on."

Unless you're DeMar DeRozan. The Toronto rookie out of USC took quite some time to get it going, but his recent stretch of four games in which he averaged 15.8 points and shot a combined 19 of 39 (48.7 percent) flashed his potential.

Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo would love to see even more, as he took DeRozan ninth overall because he believed in his dynamic abilities as an athletic wing. While the Raptors are in the books as the last team on the board not to draft Jennings (10th overall), Colangelo said he and his staff were focused on finding an off-guard so long as they had point guard Jose Calderon on board.

"(DeRozan) hasn't had the same start Brandon has, but he's definitely coming into his own here very quickly," Colangelo said last week. "In these last couple of weeks, we're starting to see a player that feels a lot more comfortable with what he's doing.
"He's been even keeled. Right now, he has realized that settling for jumpshots is not the way he's going to be most effective. Being a slashing, athletic wing and attacking basket is going to be something where he can impact the game and with us find more minutes on the floor...He's quietly emerging as an impact player for us and earning more time."

DeRozan has fallen off in the last three games, and ups and downs like that are to be expected when it comes to the youngsters. The most steady contributor, however, will likely be the one winding up with the ROY prize.

NBA LINKS

* In case you missed it in Sunday's paper, peek at the company Jennings is keeping after his 55-point game earlier this season.

And in case you missed the performance (which is still on my DVR with the very real possibility that I will watch it again for sheer fun), then check out this highlight reel of his amazing night.

* So how long do you think it has been since two top stories on SI.com were Kings-related? I'm guessing six. Yet that's the case at the moment, as Arash Markazi's rookie rankings sit next to Paul Forrester's NBA notes in which the lead item discusses the Kings' start.

* The must-read for the week goes to the tireless Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who got his hands on league-wide revenue information that is predictably grim as it pertains to the Kings. The story has ticket revenue sliding 7.4 percent overall this season and the Kings down 36.2 percent in average gate receipts. - Sam Amick

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