first edition of the Rookie Watch. This one focused on his t..."/> first edition of the Rookie Watch. This one focused on his t..."/> first edition of the Rookie Watch. This one focused on his t..."/>

Thorpe on the rookies…

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David Thorpe, the rookie guru over at ESPN came with his first edition of the Rookie Watch. This one focused on his top 20 rookies and what they will need to do to ensure their careers get off to the right start. All three of the Blazers incoming rookies are featured in his top 20. Oden at #1, Rudy at #5 and Bayless at #12. Here’s what he had to say about all three.

Oden:

“The best way for Oden to make an impact in November is to be in the game. Period. His size and talent are enough. So, ensuring that his conditioning level is good enough to allow him to run and jump for long periods of time should be his focus. And studying tape of big men in the league who expertly avoid fouls is a must as well.

As a rookie, Shaq was terrific in the transition game, an ability that is rare for a young big. Oden would be wise to watch and be inspired by tape of “The Diesel” as a 21-year-old.”

You know, this might not be a popular opinion but I’m just kind of tired of hearing/talking about Oden. It’s almost like a broken record at this point, I’m just antsy. It’s like being in a long distance relationship and your finally coming home to see your significant other for the first time in a year. You just want to see them. I just want to see him play. It’s been what a year and half now? Thorpe’s assessment is fair enough. He at least gives a different take on what he can work on besides talking about his talent. I’m pretty sure he’ll be in tremendous shape. I’m more worried about that knee holding up to the increased workload than him fouling out. I’m sure he’ll have his fare share of foul trouble, he’s a rookie for pete’s sake.

Rudy:

“The Spanish star seems ready right now based on what we saw in China. But for the first time in years, he may not be getting nearly as many minutes and touches as he is accustomed to. Finding ways to be productive within a limited role is a difficult adjustment for players who are so dependent on being in a rhythm when they play.

Fernandez seems capable of making big contributions right away on defense and in the Blazers’ transition game. Studying the offensive games of his opponents and challenging himself to not get complacent as a role player look like good starting points for him.”

I still can’t believe that Thorpe ranked Marky Marc Gasol over Rudy but that’s for another day. I have to somewhat disagree with Thorpe here. He does have a point (to a certain extent) but I believe Rudy will be able to make the adjustment. Remember in Beijing he dealt with a wacky coach who jerked people around left and right and still found a way to play at a high level with a great deal of consistency. Shooting 40% from behind the arc and averaging 13 in 22 minutes a game is nice. Also consider he was surrounded by very good talent and that should prove that he’ll be ok. If anything we know he’s a team player. I’m also not so sure he’ll be making major league contributions defensively right off the bat. Dave over at BE has already broken down his defensive game and while not completely awful, he has a bit of work to do. We all know it. He’ll have Big Joel and Oden to make his life easier and I’m sure Nate will have a scheme to help bring out his strengths (quickness, athleticism). He can hold is own but we won’t be confusing him for Ime anytime soon. Where we all know he should definitely make an immediate splash is bringing offense to that second unit.

Bayless:

“Bayless has the classic rookie dilemma: He’s a scoring guard on a team that already has savvy scorers who need the ball. Getting used to playing off of other players will be key. So will his ability to be a catch-and-shoot player, rather than one who scores off of his own bounce. His development time should call for many reps of shooting off of kick-out passes and drive-and-kicks.”

If Bayless can consistently hit the catch-and-shoot three, look out. I’m anxious to see how Bayless will play with the big timers after being forced to carry the offensive load in Vegas. I don’t imagine it to be that big of a problem but you never know. His ability to catch and shoot will determine how great of a contribution he brings to the table this season. We know he can penetrate at will, we know he can create his own offense and we know he’ll be able to kick it out. But if he can stick that catch and shoot jumper (not off the dribble) than that would give Travis more room to penetrate in that second unit and also would earn Bayless more PT with the starters. Blake’s edge over him right now is his selflessness, experience and proven ability to nail open shots. Bayless has the tools but it’s just about seeing it, remember in Vegas he shot (and made) a lot of college threes and some of those were off the dribble. He didn’t get a lot of opportunities to just sit there and let it rain.