NBA Roundtable: One star stands out from 2009-10 rookie class
Of the three Rookie of the Year leaders, Tyreke Evans has the most potential
Six teams in the East are on pace for 52 losses, but some give hope for the future
Other topics: Don Nelson's looming coaching milestone, Allen Iverson's future
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats and records are through March 8.)
Ian Thomsen: All will be good, but Evans is the one most capable of dominating with his size and reach. Now that Kevin Martin is gone from Sacramento, I wonder how the Kings will add talent around him. What types of scorers will complement him, and is he going to develop into a point guard who thrives on elevating the performances of his teammates? I look forward to seeing how he and the Kings answer those questions, because Evans, Jennings and Curry will be judged ultimately by their leadership and their impact on winning. But there is no doubting that Evans has the most potential among the rookies who have played this year (given the absence of Blake Griffin).
Jack McCallum: Evans is the best player among them now, and I see no reason for him not to improve. Stronger than Curry and Jennings, he seems able to get his shot, and he has court awareness, too: Witness his 5.4 assists per game to go with his 20.3 scoring average. Now, that is no slight on the other two. There will always be a place for a pure shooter like Curry (whose baby face belies his toughness) and a point guard like Jennings. I just see Evans becoming a superstar soon.
Frank Hughes: This question is difficult because it takes so many unknown intangibles into account. Will Evans have the desire to improve his outside shot? Will he learn to be more of a distributor than scorer? Will he get the proper guidance? Right now, Curry has everything in place to be successful, in large part because his father helped him prepare for this opportunity. But Evans has the best physical skills. He has a monster body and is only going to get better. I'm going with Evans because his room for improvement is far greater than the others. But he can't coast.
Chris Mannix: I can see all of the top three rookies (plus Ricky Rubio) becoming All-Stars, but Evans has the potential to redefine the point guard position much the same way Magic Johnson and (to a lesser extent) Penny Hardaway did in the '80s and '90s. Evans is so dynamic. He is a 6-6, 220-pound powerhouse who can post up like a power forward and get to the rim like a two guard. He's virtually impossible to contain one-on-one and once his jump shot improves -- and it will improve -- he's going to dominate.
2. There are six teams in the East -- Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, New York, Indiana and New Jersey -- on pace to lose 52 or more games. If you had to buy stock in the future of one of these teams, which would it be?
Thomsen: I'd put money in New Jersey, as ridiculous as that sounds. In five years that franchise won't look anything like the sorry team we see today. They'll be playing in a new Brooklyn arena, they'll likely be rebranded as the New York Nets to tap into the biggest of all markets, they'll have one of the league's richest owners in Mikhail Prokhorov and they'll have benefited from their high draft pick and max cap space. No team has more upside (but then no team currently has 55 losses, either).
McCallum: All things considered, I'd rather bury my money in my mattress. But since you asked ... I'll cast a reluctant vote for the Knicks. As bad as they have been, they are, seemingly, on plan. At the end of this season, the cap money will be there, several players they don't want (Nate Robinson, Larry Hughes) are already gone, and it looks like they have a solid piece in David Lee, provided they can re-sign him. As for the other teams, I don't see much of a plan.
Hughes: I have to go with the Pistons because they have been there before. I'm not sure what new ownership is going to mean for New Jersey. Philadelphia seems lost. Washington is forever embroiled in some sort of dysfunction. Indiana can't seem to break out of a middling cycle. But I think Joe Dumars, despite the signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, has the knowledge and the guts to get the Pistons back to where they want to be. Of course, I change my answer to the Knicks if LeBron signs with them.
Mannix: I'm sticking with New Jersey. You can throw out Philadelphia and Detroit because they are capped out with mediocre talent. New York has the cap space to sign two stars but it gave up its high draft picks over the next few years to supplement them. Indiana has Danny Granger and not much else, while Washington still has the enigma that is Gilbert Arenas. The Nets, believe it or not, are the most promising. Brook Lopez and Devin Harris are solid pieces and they are the odds-on favorite to add John Wall or Evan Turner to the mix next season. Factor in new management and an owner willing to spend (both on the roster and an elite coach next season), and I like the future there.
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