While everyone, myself included to a lesser degree, has been following the amazing start of Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings, another rookie has been even better.
After his 55-point effort in just his seventh NBA game, many “experts” including ESPN’s Jalen Rose, proclaimed that Jennings had already locked up the Rookie of the Year Award. But upon further review and a much more realistic viewpoint that understands the season is 82 games not seven, Jennings has been one of the league’s top rookie just not the best.
I’m not going to say he’s locked up the award just yet, but Sacremento Kings rookie Tyreke Evans is my pick to win ROY honors. The 6-6 rookie is listed as a point guard but has displayed the versatility you love in a backcourt player and will only continue to develop his already impressive 20-year-old frame leading to more matchup options.
Evans is averaging 19.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals thus far and has helped the Kings to a 9-8 start. This is a Kings team that was woefully bad last year. Jennings on the other hand has been equally impressive, averaging 21.5 points, 5.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Both of the first-year players have the goods to become future NBA All-Stars and both could one day battle for league scoring honors but at 6-1, 169 pounds, I just don’t see Jennings being able to withstand the rigors of the NBA on a daily basis and it might be showing already.
One of the most amazing factors in Jennings incredible start was that he was averaging nearly 25 games per contest and was doing it while connecting on nearly 50 percent of his shots. Since his 55-point game, Jennings has eclipsed the 20-point mark just twice while shooting at a 36-percent clip.
Those are the type of numbers we expected from the talented rookie and those will be the type of numbers he will likely end the season with. Evans’ numbers have actually been getting better as the season has continued and I fully expect he’ll be able to sustain, if not build on his early season success. Jennings is a talented player and will likely have a great NBA career when all is said and done, but I’ll take Evans right now and I’ll take Evans five years from now, too.
In the sports memorabilia industry, one of the biggest keys is latching on to a player and his collectibles before he becomes a superstar. Because he hasn’t yet posted a double nickel and because he plays in Sacramento, Evans is still somewhat under the radar, but he won’t be for much longer.
I saw both players at the McDonald’s All-American game in Milwaukee a couple years back and left thinking the 2009 roookie class could be a very special one. But despite the fact that other players came in with more acclaim, I left the Bradley Center thinking that Evans was one of those truly special players that don’t come along very often and so far, he’s been exactly that.
For those of you who feel I’m hooking up my trailer to the wrong horse, consider the fact that I live in Wisconsin and have been a Bucks fan dating back to the days Kareem was Lou and the Bucks were a yearly contender for the title. I love the Bucks and love Jennings, too, and would love nothing more than Jennings to keep up his early pace. But Evans is simply the better player.