Saturday, February 19, 2011

2011 NBA All Star Game Rookie Challenge

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I love the Rookie Game during all-star weekend. 9 of the league's best rookies pitted against 9 of the best 2nd year players (sophomores) in a high scoring fun-filled exhibition game. Following the 1998-1999 season which saw the 1999 All-Star game canceled, the Rookie Game was revamped from East vs West to the format that it has now. I remember the first rookie-sophomore game back in 2000 at UC-Davis with my dormmates on my buddy Mox's computer/tv and I still remember this play by Jason Williams that had everyone talking:

The Elbow Pass (ignore the music)

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The game has continued to be popular over the past decade showcasing the talents of stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Paul and many others. The sophomores have a sizeable edge in the series winning 8 of the first 11 games. Only 10 players had won the game as both rookies and sophomores: Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, Tony Parker, Jamaal Tinsley and Andrei Kirilenko in 2002 and 2003, and Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Lamar Odom, Wally Szczerbiak and Andre Miller in 2000 and 2001. With the rookies having won last year, 5 more players had a chance to join that list: Taj Gibson, DeJuan Blair, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and James Harden who made this year's team as an injury replacement for the reigning MVP, Tyreke Evans. It wasn't to be though as for the 2nd year in a row the rookies came out firing knocking off the sophomores 148-140. The rookies 3 former Kentucky Wildcats and two of them really stole the show. DeMarcus Cousins led all scorers with 33 points and had a team high 14 rebounds and John Wall, who would win the MVP, had 12 points and a record 22 assists. Blair had 28 points and 15 rebounds while Harden had a team high 30 off the bench for the sophs in a losing effort.

Check out some of the game's highlights - (the video you want is All-Star Friday's Top 10)

Personally I think plays #7, #3 and #2 were the most memorable, but I'm not the one setting the order.

Speaking of order, here's where the players in this year's Rookie Challenge were drafted:


2010 #1 - John Wall - Wizards
2010 #3 - Derrick Favors - Nets
2010 #4 - Wesley Johnson - Wolves
2010 #5 - DeMarcus Cousins - Kings
2010 #7 - Greg Monroe - Pistons
2010 #18 - Eric Bledsoe - Thunder (traded to Clippers)
2010 #39 - Landry Fields - Knicks
2009 #1 - Blake Griffin - Clippers
Undrafted - Gary Neal - Spurs


2009 #3 - James Harden - Thunder (injury replacement)
2009 #4 - Tyreke Evans - Kings (injured)
2009 #7 - Stephen Curry - Warriors
2009 #9 - Demar DeRozan - Raptors
2009 #10 - Brandon Jennings - Bucks
2009 #17 - Jrue Holiday - 76ers
2009 #26 - Taj Gibson - Bulls
2009 #37 - DeJuan Blair - Spurs
Undrafted - Wesley Matthews - Jazz (now with Portland)

On a semi-related note, how good is the Spurs scouting department? Neal and Blair in the past two years. Impressive.

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