Tuesday, September 21, 2010
NBA rooks like Devin Ebanks, Kobe Bryant and... Renaldo Balkman?
By Andy Kamenetzky
Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks aren't rookies attracting much hoopla at the moment. Both slipped to the second round, and fans and media tend to fixate their eyeballs on the lottery cats. Respective 58 and 43 picks typically remain under the radar until proving worthy of a little noise (or get arrested, in the case of Lance Stephenson). But that doesn't mean the Laker frosh are going entirely unappreciated. After acquitting themselves nicely during the Summer Pro League in Vegas, their peers -- often considered the most meaningful source for professional compliments -- have taken notice. In particular, Ebanks grabbed the attention of his contemporaries.
NBA.com conducted an August survey among 40 NBA rooks, and the Trevor Ariza doppelganger managed to garner a decent amount of love. Third place (7.7 percent ) for "which rookie is being most overlooked," plus votes received for "most athletic" and "best defender." Not bad, considering some of these guys did their summer internships in Orlando and may not have seen Ebanks up close and personal. Perhaps word of mouth is positive and spreading.
In related news, the kids were asked to name their favorite player in the league, and the winner was none other than Kobe Bean Bryant. And by quite the honkin' margin: 38.2 percent. The top 5 rounded out with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade. No real surprises there, and for the most part, those receiving votes (including Pau Gasol) also raised no eyebrows... except for a pair of names I would respectively classify as "that's kinda random" and "what the whuuuuuhhhhhh??!!"
Ramon Sessions and Renaldo Balkman.
Okay, Sessions I sort of get. Well, not really, but at least his breakout-ish 2009 featured double digit scoring, and youngsters like them some scoring. Add in nearly six dimes per contest and I guess it's believable (if still pretty surprising) Sessions endeared himself so mightily to at least one teenage baller. But Renaldo Balkman? Seriously? A guy best known for being one of the more bizarre first round picks in recent memory and arguably the NBA's pointiest player? (Sharp nose. Sharp elbows. Even the end of his braids are pointy. The guy is strikingly angular.)
Look, I love me an energy guy as much as the next guy, and have a decided tendency to develop soft spots for fringe players. (Both quirks explain why I'm likely the only person on the planet besides Jake Voskuhl who wouldn't mind seeing Jake Voskuhlback in the league.) But even I have my limits when it comes to narrowing down my favorite players. Unless the voter -- or voters, I guess, since we've already entered fairly strange territory -- grew up a Gamecock fan, I'm scratching my head at this selection.