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Opportunity knocks

Conley, Brewer among those making most of minutes

Posted: Monday November 12, 2007 1:03PM; Updated: Monday November 12, 2007 10:04PM
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For rookies, it's all about minutes.

If you get them, you better take advantage. Take two new additions to this week's Rookie Rankings -- Mike Conley and Corey Brewer, whom I expected to have big years but who started the season slowly.

Conley, No. 3 in the Grizzlies' point-guard rotation behind starter Damon Stoudamire and Kyle Lowry, didn't see action the first two games, but since then he's cracked the lineup and started to make a case for more playing time.

Same goes for Brewer, whose defense may keep him in the Timberwolves' rotation. Brewer saw 21 minutes per game this past week, and turned out two solid scoring games.

"I'm learning to play the NBA game," Brewer said after Saturday's 100-93 loss in Sacramento. "It's coming slowly, but it's coming."

Getting minutes should help speed along that process.

You can send comments, complaints, or hype for your favorite rookie to Drew Packham at drew.packham@turner.com.

NBA Rookie Rankings
Rank LW Player
1 1
Kevin Durant, Seattle SuperSonics
A few things we learned about Durant in a great piece in Sports Illustrated by Jack McCallum: Durant is still a wide-eyed kid, surprised that Steve Nash knew his name; he's getting A LOT of attention, from both the media and -- we can assume from mom's comments -- the fairer sex; and he's already counting down the games left in the season. I guess it's easy to keep track when you lose every one.
2 3
Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Horford continue his run of strong board work, averaging 9.7 rebounds in four games last week, including a 15-rebound performance in Atlanta's home victory against the Suns. The Hawks, yes Hawks, have now taken down two Western powers, the Suns and the Mavericks, thanks in part to Horford's play as the starting center. If they could only figure out the East.
3 2
Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee Bucks
Yi held his own in his first head-to-head meeting with countryman Yao Ming. He finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in the loss, but earned the respect of the Rockets. Yao, who had 28 points, said after the game that he thinks Yi will be better than him one day, and Tracy McGrady, who guarded Yi, left impressed: "He has a tremendous upside in this league." This kid's for real.
4 6
Jeff Green, Seattle SuperSonics
Sure, the Sonics are off to the worst start in franchise history, but they do have a promising rookie tandem. The Sonics nearly got a win against Utah, and Green played a big role, scoring a personal-best 19 points while attacking the basket, something Durant is slowly learning to do more often.
5 5
Acie Law IV, Atlanta Hawks
Law has taken over as the starting point guard, but he'll need to provide some scoring if he hopes to keep the job from Tyronn Lue. Law was held scoreless in Sunday's loss to the Wizards, but he's had back-to-back five-assist games with only two turnovers in that span. I'm going to go out on a limb to say Law will only improve with more playing time as the season rolls on.
6 --
Jamario Moon, Toronto Raptors
Moon, a veteran of the U.S. minor leagues, said he's just trying to "work [his] way in" the Raptors' lineup. He's doing a good job of it. After a nine-point, eight-rebound night, coach Sam Mitchell gave the 27-year-old a surprise start against the Bulls (to help defend Luol Deng). Moon had 12 points, six rebounds and three steals, and had teammates raving. Nice "roll of the dice," as Mitchell called it.
7 --
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
After those two DNP-CDs to start the season, we caught a glimpse of the Conley we expected to see. Conley capped his week with a 10-point, nine-assist, 23-minute game in a blowout loss to the Jazz. Production like that will make it even more difficult for coach Marc Iavaroni to juggle minutes among his three point guards.
8 4
Luis Scola, Houston Rockets
The Argentine power forward saw a drastic reduction in run, playing just an average of 11 minutes in three games. Even less impressive were his numbers: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 0 steals, 0 blocks in the three games combined for the Rockets, who continue to start Chuck Hayes at power forward.
9 --
Corey Brewer, Minnesota Timberwolves
When given the PT, Brewer is responding. Twice last week he scored in double digits, with a 10-point, six-rebound night and a 15-point, eight-rebound performance. Of course, those two games sandwiched a scoreless night in which he played just seven minutes in a loss to the Lakers. Ah, the life of a rookie.
10 9
Al Thornton, Los Angeles Clippers
He just barely hung on to the final spot in the rankings. Thornton was only 8-for-31 from the field for the week in his role off the Clippers' bench. He did have 13 points and seven rebounds in a victory at Indiana, but made only 3-of-13 shots.
Honorable mention: Jared Dudley, Bobcats (16 points, 11 rebounds in 32-point loss to Phoenix); Joakim Noah, Bulls (3 G, 16.6 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg); Glen Davis, Celtics (six points, eight rebounds in 19 minutes in a victory at New Jersey).

Drew Packham can be reached at drew.packham@turner.com.