The NBA recently announced the players that will be competing in the NBA 2011 Rookie Challenge. This season’s rookies are highlighted with first overall draft picks Blake Griffin and John Wall, while the sophomore roster filled with skilled point guards Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, and Brandon Jennings.
Since 2000 the Rookies have only taken three games, 2000, 2002, and the 2010 challenge. Even the rookie group of James, Wade, Bosh, and Anthony couldn’t take down the sophomore’s in their rookie year. Clearly experience plays a huge role in the high scoring game.
This year there is one big reason why the rookies might win the game for the second straight year; size. The rookies feature four players over 6’10 including DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, Greg Monroe, and Derrick Favors. The Sophomores, although very talented, only have one 6’10 player in Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They also have forward Taj Gibson from the Bulls who is 6’9, but after that they get quite small. At 6’7 they have DeJuan Blair and DeMar DeRozan, but DeRozan is a shooting guard on the Raptors, not a big man. The team is rounded out by guards, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, and Wesley Matthews. Other than the big four on the rookie side they also have 6’7 Wesley Johnson and Landry Fields. Also they have Eric Bledsoe, Gary Neal, and John Wall who are all very skilled ball handlers.
This year could very well be the first time the rookies take two games in a row over the sophomores. The keys for the rookies to win will be getting the ball inside to the big men, especially Blake Griffin and rebounding. The sophomores will have to try to box out on offense and defence and use their speed and shot to their advantage. Curry, Evans, and Matthews will have to be shooting threes, while Ibaka, Gibson, and Blair will have to play tough interior defence. The game is always high scoring and dunking will be on display with DeRozan, Griffin, and Ibaka in both the Slam Dunk Competition and the Rookie Challenge.