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Now Josh Richardson has official recognition, the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month announced Tuesday for his March with the Heat that was as impressive as it was unlikely. He’s now only the fourth newcomer to be singled out this season and the first from outside the top 11 selections in the 2015 Draft. (Karl-Anthony Town of the Minnesota Timberwolves won again in the West as excellence continues to be routine.)
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Richardson was a second-round pick who spent a lot of time on the bench and the NBA D-League early in 2015-16 and yet has emerged as a key figure for a Miami team deep in the East playoff race.
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Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has gone from the 2014 second-rounder to a debut season of near-constant production in Denver. T.J. McConnell cheap motels in jersey city nj of the Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys wasn’t drafted at all and is second among rookies in assists while being dependable with the ball (2.57-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) while shooting 47.2 percent.
And the start by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets showed he had a chance to rank among the best first-year players if not for the fractured right ankle that cost him 50 games.
On and on as the annual reminder that while the biggest names from the Draft usually set the pace for Kia Rookie of the Year, it is possible to come from far back in the pack to make an immediate contribution. There could even be a top 10 of the best of the rest, players who stepped up after being selected outside the lottery.
1. Jokic (Pick 41 in 2014).
2. Richardson (40).
3. Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls Jerseys (22): While his role and production has faded, his good play around midseason was especially valuable as Chicago dealt with injuries in the front court.
4. Jonathon Simmons, San Antonio Spurs (undrafted in 2012): With little chance to carve out a spot in the rotation on a team filled with veterans, he has had good moments on defense and shot 49.8 percent, including 42.9 behind the arc, in 14.3 minutes.
5. McConnell (undrafted): Being so efficient with the ball is not piling up numbers on a bad team. There is no downplaying what he has done.
McConnell Spin Cycle
T.J. McConnell spins off the defender and makes the smooth lay-in.
6. Hollis-Jefferson (23): With his defense and solid shooting, he could have stayed among the 10 best rookies, lottery or not, the entire season if not for the ankle injury.
Big Time Block
Dante Cunningham gets out on the break and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson flies back for the block at the rim.
7. Raul Neto, Utah Jazz (47 in 2013): Second among rookies in 3-point shooting, seventh in steals and ninth in assists while starting 53 times for a possible playoff team.
8. Jerian Grant, New York Knicks Jerseys (19): The shooting has been a big problem, but the assist-to-turnover ratio of 2-to-1 shows he can be a dependable backup distributor for years to come.
Grant Tips It In
Jerian Grant drives to the basket and misses the layup but tips in his own shot to beat the buzzer.
9. Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers (27): He was among the 10 best rookies for a while, but the energy, holding his man to about the same shooting percentage as the opponent had against the rest of the league and sound shot selection indicate someone who could beat long odds and last.
10. Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (46): The defense has been pretty good all along, but Powell sneaks on the list thanks almost entirely to a big March and April, on offense as well, while suddenly playing a big role and even starting for the No. 2 team in the East.
Joseph Beats the Clock
Norman Powell gets inside and kicks it out to Cory Joseph who beats the shot clock with a clutch three.
As for the next-to-last Ladder, with players from any part of the Draft board:
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Last week’s ranking: No. 1
Kia Awards: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns is a nominee for the Kia Western Conference Rookie of the Month.
We’re at five in a row and counting for Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors after his March numbers of 21.9 points, 10.5 points and 58.2 percent shooting. Since it may come up: Damian Lillard, in 2012-13, was the last player to sweep the season. Blake Griffin (2010-11), Chris Paul (2005-06) and LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony (2003-04) also did it when the award was handed out for the East and West while Tim Duncan (1997-98), David Robinson (1989-90) and Ralph Sampson (1983-84) similarly dominated when the league recognized one player regardless of conference.
2. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks Jerseys
Last week’s ranking: No. 2
Porzingis Nominated for March Rookie of the Month
Kristaps Porzingis is a nominee for the Kia Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month.
This may take a big lean at the tape to hold on to second place. Porzingis shot just 39.8 percent in March and then missed three games in a row with a strained right shoulder. He is still making an impact on defense, though, with multiple blocks in four of the last six appearances and at least eight rebounds on the defensive side in three of the six. The Knicks have raised the possibility he won’t play again this season, but Porzingis said he hopes to return soon from the shoulder injury.
3. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Last week’s ranking: No. 3
He is averaging 8.7 rebounds the last nine games, an especially encouraging development for the Nuggets because it was not an area of strength early in the season. Not only that, but his average on the boards has come in just 24.3 minutes a game. At 6.8 per outing overall, he needs to keep up the recent pace to catch Jahlil Okafor (7.0) for third in the class. Jokic has also had a good finish in blocked shots, although his defense apart from that statistic has been good all along.
4. Justise Winslow, Miami Heat Jerseys
Last week’s ranking: No. 4
Winslow Does It All
Justise Winslow gets the steal, runs down the court, and drains the and-one layup.
The constant selling point that keeps Winslow in the top five (even without the kind of sparkling numbers that usually generate league-wide support)?: he has done one thing well the entire season, and sometimes very well, a claim few other rookies can make. His ability to defend two positions has been a positive for a playoff team, not to mention the ability to immediately come in and handle fourth-quarter minutes in what would have been his sophomore season at Duke. The question is whether he has done enough on offense — 42.5 percent from the field, 6.5 points — to make first-team All-Rookie.
5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Last week’s ranking: No. 5
Booker Scores 34
Watch the highlights from Devin Booker who scores 34 points in the Suns loss to the Hawks.
The 22.4 points the last 10 outings looks great, except that Booker is shooting 42.3 percent, including 31.0 percent behind the arc, in the same time while his defense has become a topic of jokes. (Interim coach Earl Watson suggested a book to read. Booker replied he did not read books often, to which Watson replied, via Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, “He also said he was a great defender earlier in the year. We know that wasn’t true.”) Booker is up to 13.7 points for the season, fourth in the class, as well as sixth in three-point shooting and fifth in assists.
6. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys
Last week’s ranking: No. 7
Okafor, like Towns, will be the first rookie to average at least 17 points, seven rebounds and one block since Pau Gasol in 2001-02. Okafor will be the first 76er rookie to ever do it.
7. D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers
Last week’s ranking: No. 6
Russell Finds Black
D’Angelo Russell lobs the ball to Tarik Black for the alley-oop dunk.
Why Okafor can climb a spot while injured. Russell continues to regress from the 45.9 percent overall and 46.2 percent on 3-pointers in February with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.22-to-1 to the last 15 games at 36 percent overall, 30.6 percent behind the arc and 1.18-1. The ball handling and distributing has gotten so bad that he has as many or more turnovers than assists in seven of the last nine outings, dropping his season-long assist-to-turnover ratio to just 1.40-1. Russell does remain first in steals among rookies, third in assists, fifth in scoring and fifth in 3-point shooting.
8. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers Jerseys
Last week’s ranking: No. 8
Turner Throws It Down
Rodney Stuckey feeds Myles Turner who throws down the nasty dunk.
He has at least one block in nine consecutive games, a nice run, but has not recorded multiple blocks since March 24 against the New Orleans Pelicans, seven games ago. Turner has a good chance to hold his spot in the top 20 in the league when the regular season ends, as well as third among rookies, and could be in the top 10 in blocks per 48 minutes in the real sign of his impact in that department the second half of the season. His best work lately, while struggling with his shot, has come in averaging 7.7 rebounds in 25.3 minutes the last 10 games.
9. Josh Richardson, Miami Heat Jerseys
Last week’s ranking: No. 9
Richardson should easily finish No. 1 in the class in 3-point percentage, at an astonishing 50 percent (comfortably ahead of the 42.9 percent of second-place of Simmons), but won’t have enough makes behind the arc to qualify among the league leaders. (His 50 percent would lead the entire NBA if he had reached the minimum.) He finished March at an amazing 58.9 percent, as well as 53.2 percent overall and 12 points per game, to continue the amazing second-half ride by winning Rookie of the Month for the East.
10. Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz
Last week’s ranking: No. 10
Lyles With The Alley-Oop Dunk
Trey Lyles goes up for the two-handed jam.
The shooting percentage the last three full months: 47.5, 45.1 and 46.4, and often with range. That’s an impressive finish even with the small February role of 10.2 minutes. Now, the Jazz are giving him the biggest opportunity yet with the playoffs on the line in the ultimate sign of confidence, playing Lyles 23.1 minutes the last six games. No wonder. The power forward is shooting 43.5 from 3-point range during that span.
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