Season In Review: The Rookies
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 06/07/2011 2:58 PM

    During 2011, The Rookies...
    Exceeded Expectations (1)
    Met Expectations (8)
    Failed To Meet Expectations (37)

    We're going to start something new this offseason and review each player's season, how they performed, whether they met expectations or not and if you'd like to see them in uniform for the Blazers to start the 2011-12 season. Up next is our rookie class of 2010, Luke Babbitt, Armon Johnson, and Elliot Williams.

    Not unlike any other recent draft, the Trail Blazers were extremely active on June 24th, 2010, adding three rookies to a 50 win team. In a bevvy of moves, the Trail Blazers sent away the second-longest tenured Blazer, Martell Webster to Minnesota for the draft rights to the No. 16 overall pick, Luke Babbitt. The 6'9" small forward, dubbed "the best shooter in the draft" by most left the University of Nevada after just two seasons. Just six picks later, Portland added a 6'4" combo guard out of the University of Memphis, Elliot Williams who was regarded as one of the top athletes of the class of 2010. A few days prior to the draft, Portland wheeled and dealed their way up to No. 34 from No. 44 in a deal with the Golden State Warriors. With the high 2nd round pick, it was Armon Johnson, Luke's teammate and point guard from Nevada who got the call to be apart of Rip City.

    Unfortunately for Blazer Nation, Elliot's ridiculous hops would have to wait until training camp to be put on display. After he reportedly suffered a minor injury in a pre-draft workout with the Spurs, the Trail Blazers decided to play it safe with Williams, especially given the team's current knee history, and held him out of the Las Vegas Summer League. E-Will was cleared in time to start training camp and he seemed on track for a successful rookie debut. During the annual Wells Fargo Fan Fest, he wowed the crowd during the pre-game warm-ups with a display of high-flying, acrobatic slams unparalleled by others in this league. Sadly, outside of a couple of baskets during the first three pre-season games, that was his one shining moment during 2011.  On November 3rd, Williams suffered an injury to his knee during on-court conditioning drills, causing him to miss the rest of his rookie campaign.

    Luke, the most highly touted of the three prospects, got his Trail Blazers career off to a solid start in Vegas, leading the squad with 14.2 ppg despite not showing his trademark three-point marksmanship. Babbitt used a nice handle to get to the rack where he attempted 21 free throws in five games, the most attempted by any other Blazer. With the ball in his hands, he made the right pass and knew when to take the ball all the way to the rack or stop on a dime for a pull-up jump shot. But with wing position loaded in Rip City, Babbitt only found his way into 24 regular season games, scoring a grand total of 36 points and connecting on only 3 triples. With the bight lights of the NBA shining, Luke looked hesitant at times and unsure of his capabilities.

    Although his rookie year didn't go as planned, he found time to improve his game when the NBDL came calling. During his stint with the Idaho Stampede, Luke averaged 20.1 ppg, on .513 field goal shooting and .375 from 3, and 7.4 rpg in 29 minutes. In 14 games, Luke hit double-digits in every game but one and scored over 20 seven times, including the his final performance where he was en fuego, scoring 34 points in only 30 minutes of action. While the competition certainly wasn't up to the caliber of the NBA, it's a positive sign to see the young player flourish in the NBDL and see it as a way of getting better instead of a demotion.

    Early on, it appeared the 2nd round pick Johnson would be the one getting the most playing time during the course of the 2011 season. Armon quickly lived up to his reputation as a "Nate guy" by playing suffocating defense during Summer League all the while showing a pass-first mentality. In the five games he played in Vegas, AJ averaged a team-high 33.2 minutes and scored 11.6 points, handed out 4.2 assists, grabbed 2.6 rebounds and got his hands on 2.2 steals a night. Many felt his performance was enough to put him ahead of the returning Mills for the third point guard spot. And in training camp, AJ used his relentless work ethic to even propel himself ahead of the incumbent Jerryd Bayless as the backup lead guard. It was even rumored that Johnson's level of play was the reason the team felt comfortable sending Bayless packing to New Orleans for a draft pick.

    Through the first 17 games, AJ had earned himself the backup role behind Andre Miller, playing approximately a quarter a night. But after teams quickly found out how to scout his left handed approach to the game, he wasn't able to counter and Coach McMillan switched up the roles and gave the backup reigns to Patty Mills who would never relinquish them. Like his college teammate, AJ spent a large chunk of his rookie year in Idaho with the Stampede. During 9 games, Armon averaged 18.2 points, on .592 shooting from the floor, 3.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds. Showing that nothing will deter him from being a great NBA player, Johnson relished his time in the DLeague.

    "I'm just trying to embrace it," Johnson, the 34th pick in the 2010 NBA draft, said after Saturday's shootaround. "I'm doing my best to embrace it and just be positive about it. It's really hard for me just to ... be away from my team, you know?"

    While none of the rookie class of 2010 set the NBA on fire, it's too early to judge them based on one season. How many times has a team given up on a player a couple years into their career only to see them blossom elsewhere? Chauncey Billups was dealt in the middle of his rookie season and twice after before he found his groove with the Pistons. Steve Nash didn't even score more than 10 a night until his fifth season in the league. Who could have imagined the finished product would be a two-time MVP?  Former Trail Blazers Travis Outlaw and Jermaine O'Neal took longer than expected to produce as well. Now, I'm not saying our rookies will turn into Hall of Famers or All-Stars but they all declared for the draft as underclassmen and will take some seasoning before the finished product comes to fruition. Patience is a virtue.

    Rise With Us: The Rookies First Day

    Let all of that information soak in for a moment Rip City. Looking back, can you take anything away from the 2011 season in regards to our crop of rookies? Can Elliot regain his athleticism? Will Armon take the necessary steps to becoming a more well-rounded point guard? While we don't know how far these guys can go, we do know they can "Dougie"..kinda

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  1. abarrer3
    Posts: 271

    Posted 06/07/2011 4:23 PM

    The only reason I voted for failed expectations is because we didn't get to see Elliot play! These injuries........
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  1. Herr
    Posts: 643

    Posted 06/07/2011 4:54 PM

    I don't get it. Is this a serious question?  Obviously they failed.  I didn't have any expectations for them at all, but people kept talking about them, and they were awful.  Has Babbitt made a 3 pointer?  Williams hasn't played at all.  I remember Armon did a great job on Nash, and I love his passion, but if you've got Patty Mills playing before you, something is obviously wrong.
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  1. D_pickett
    Posts: 726

    Posted 06/07/2011 9:58 PM

    I was busy graduating from college last year, and I missed the draft. So I had no expectations of the rookies. Somehow, they still failed to meet my expectations....

    Williams got hurt; he's a non-factor, and it's not fair to judge him. But his situation is painfully reminiscent of Oden's rookie year.

    Some part of me has to wonder about Armon and Luke. Obviously they didn't do anything to impress me during the season--except D-League play. I get that the NBA and the DL can't even be compared, but it just doesn't make sense that Luke could average 20 and 7 and Armon could average 18, 4, and 3 in the DL from what I've seen of them on the court. I honestly think, while we all want to take shots at their talents, there's something else going on.

    We all want to believe that the Blazer's locker room is a Buddhist temple and Nate is the enlightened one. But I'm getting strong suspicions of chemistry, trust, and leadership issues.

    Basically, I didn't see anything that impressed me from the rookies, but I'm not sure the blame lies entirely on them.
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  1. mbmurr1
    Posts: 530

    Posted 06/08/2011 8:40 AM

    Elliott is a rookie this year and I think he will be a solid contributor
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  1. stacksfan2005
    Posts: 363

    Posted 06/08/2011 11:27 AM

    EW for rookie of the year? if stupid blake griffon can get it why not? no but seriously babbit was fail sauce, armon had 1 good quarter the whole season and quickly forgot how to pass the ball. major fail sauce, trade them all for cap space. the only rookie that impressed me was chris johnson, i want him back.
  1. stacksfan2005
    Posts: 363

    Posted 06/08/2011 11:29 AM

    oh but they all met expectations on the dougie, babbit failed but i expected him to.
  1. njankowski
    Posts: 2

    Posted 06/08/2011 11:57 AM

    Let's keep Chris Johnson. He was the only rookie that I actually thought had talent. Though it is kind of tough for him to play center. He needs to gain like... 40 pounds...
    I am a fan of three goggles. Even when the rest of the NBA is hating on them, they're still the best!
  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 06/08/2011 12:44 PM

    Abarrer3, I like your avatar!!!!

    Before being too hard on the rookies, I'd look at how the other draftees of the class of 2010 have looked so far.

    John Wall - 16 & 8
    Good numbers but he didn't make the Wizards any better and he was the #1 pick.

    Evan Turner- 7 & 4
    Looked overmatched as times and didn't really perform up to the #2 pick standards.

     Landry Fields, a 2nd round pick make the All-Rookie first team. Being a 2nd round pick is not a knock on him but they usually don't make 1st team in most years. He was a nice player,  but 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds gets you first team honors?

    So before everyone gets down on our guys, just look around, it wasn't the best year to be a rookie. A lot of players were low on the depth chart, had to cut their teeth in the DLeague, and will take some time to grow.
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  1. blazerfreak97
    Posts: 5

    Posted 06/08/2011 6:09 PM

    Well Elliot was injured so how could he have not met expectation? No one saw him play. I think when Armon got to play he did really well for a rookie, and I thought Luke was supposed be better than what he showed, but overall I knew they werent gonna be amazing. I think they did fine :)
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  1. blazerfreak97
    Posts: 5

    Posted 06/08/2011 6:10 PM

    I think Chris did pretty well too
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  1. D_pickett
    Posts: 726

    Posted 06/08/2011 6:46 PM

    I think the point was reviewing the rookies that we drafted. But I totally agree that CJ was a good pickup, especially for the money.
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  1. Tobyus Sanchezo
    Tobyus Sanchezo
    Posts: 1669

    Posted 06/10/2011 11:05 PM

    We drafted one rookie that was hurt, so we didn't expect much outta him. Then two of the rookies were in and out of the D-League, only because we had to fill the empty roster slots due to injuries. Then in this one game, we had so many hurt Blazers, that Coach Nate had to put Luke Babbitt at Center. THAT WAS AWESOME! I think he got a couple boards and a basket. 
    I am a fan of multiple All-Stars on the Blazers roster this season!
  1. freddead
    Posts: 321

    Posted 06/10/2011 11:56 PM

    meh i dont see how people can judge given the time they had to perform so i said they met expectations cause i didnt expect them to be good but i do think babbits game will be better next year i see some talent there
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