Durant Has the Hype, but Horford is Doing Work in the PaintWith Greg Oden sidelined for the season, Kevin Durant has received by far the most coverage of any NBA rookie. He has scored the most points--and missed the most shots. Here are the rookie leaders in several statistical categories:
1) Kevin Durant, SEA 19.0 (.374 FG%)
2) Jianlian Yi, MIL 9.9 (.432 FG%)
3) Jeff Green, SEA 9.8 (.453 FG%)
4) Daequan Cook, MIA 9.0 (.465 FG%)
5) Sean Williams, NJN 8.9 (.628 FG%)
1) Al Horford, ATL 10.1
2) Jamario Moon, TOR 6.5
3) Jianlian Yi, MIL 6.1
4) Jeff Green, SEA 5.4
5) Sean Williams, NJN 4.6
1) Mike Conley, MEM 4.2
2) Acie Law, ATL 3.0
3) Kevin Durant, SEA 1.8
4) Juan Carlos Navarro, MEM 1.6
5) Al Horford, ATL 1.3
1) Kevin Durant, SEA 33.8
2) Al Horford, ATL 32.5
3) Jamario Moon, TOR 27.4
4) Jianlian Yi, MIL 25.5
5) Jeff Green, SEA 22.2
NBA Efficiency Rating
1) Al Horford, ATL 15.3
2) Jamario Moon, TOR 12.1
3) Kevin Durant, SEA 11.8
4) Jianlian Yi, MIL 11.5
5) Sean Williams, NJN 11.3
Durant continues to receive the most hype but by any objective measure he is not the best rookie. Don't be deceived by his scoring average; Durant is the only rookie who has a green light to shoot at any time from any spot on the floor--and his field goal percentage and his team's record (2-10) show that neither he nor his Seattle Supersonics are profiting from Coach P.J. Carlesimo's decision to turn Durant into "Agent 35, Licensed to Shoot."
Horford ranks in the top 20 in the league in both rebounding and blocked shots. He is averaging 8.7 ppg while shooting .481 from the field. It may be impossible to win the Rookie of the Year award while averaging less than 10 ppg but there is no doubt that he is a more effective player than Durant at both ends of the court.
Yi's shooting percentage is not great but it is better than Durant's; Yi also grabs more rebounds and blocks more shots than Durant.
Sean Williams ranks sixth in the NBA in blocked shots (2.5 bpg) and is shooting well over .600 while nearly averaging 10 ppg. That kind of production in the paint at both ends of the court is more valuable than the one-dimensional game that Durant has right now.
The NBA Efficiency Rating is hardly the definitive word on player evaluation but it is a semi-useful "quick and dirty" tool to make general comparisons. Kevin Garnett has the best NBA Efficiency Rating (31.8). Horford's rating is slightly worse than Udonis Haslem's rating. Moon's rating is virtually identical with Mehmet Okur's rating. Durant, Yi and Sean Williams are keeping company with veterans like J.R. Smith, Jordan Farmar and Kenyon Martin. The bottom line is that none of this year's rookies--including Durant--are even close to playing at an All-Star level.
As a sidenote, it is interesting to look at what has happened so far with the three Ohio State players who were drafted in the first round. With Oden out and Mike Conley struggling before he too was sidelined by injury, Miami's Daequan Cook is putting up the best numbers among Buckeye rookies. This is no doubt a major surprise to his hometown newspaper, the Dayton Daily News, which for some inexplicable reason published a story at the start of the season that suggested that Cook would be sent to the NBA Development League, a bizarre assertion that looked even more foolish after his performance in his very first game. Cook will no doubt have his ups and downs like most rookies, but he has already displayed enough athleticism, shooting ability and confidence to become a rotation player for the Heat.
Note: All statistics are from NBA.com
posted by David Friedman @ 1:12 AM