An Insurmountable Challenge: Notes on the infamous Rookie Challenge

We’ll be posting All-Star related musings over the weekend, but the first topic to tackle, since it’s the first big competition of the weekend, is tonight’s Rookie Challenge. The game is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, but its official title is apt since the rookies rarely have a chance in hell of winning it, and everyone expects them to fail. They’ve won 2 of the 10 games staged in the current format (and one of those was in overtime). In the past 3 years, they’ve lost by an average of a tad less than 25 points. It’s just not fair. The benefits of a year of coaching, practice, and learning that Gummy Bears are not an appropriate breakfast create too much of a competitive imbalance. Remember the 2004 rookie class? One of the greatest of all-time, with four Beijing medal winners in LeBron, Wade, Carmelo, and Bosh. They lost by 24. To a team that started Marko Jaric. Wouldn’t it make sense to take the best 1st- and 2nd-year players and split them up, East vs. West? Here’s what that might look like this year (9-man rosters, as per custom for the event):

East:
SF Danilo Gallinari (Knicks)
PF Michael Beasley (Heat)
C Brook Lopez (Nets)
SG Courtney Lee (Nets)
PG Brandon Jennings (Bucks)
Bench: Ryan Anderson (Magic), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Nets), Roy Hibbert (Pacers), Jonas Jerebko (Pistons)

West:
SF OJ Mayo (Grizzlies)
PF Kevin Love (Timberwolves)
C Marc Gasol (Grizzlies)
SG Tyreke Evans (Kings)
PG Russell Westbrook (Thunder)
Bench: DeJuan Blair (Spurs), Stephen Curry (Warriors), Eric Gordon (Clippers), Jason Thompson (Kings)

The West lineup looks better on paper, and is certainly deeper, but doesn’t match up well with the East’s long shooters. I think the West, aided by Derrick Rose’s absence, wins this. But probably not by 25.

Fond of the Rookie Challenge? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook.

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2 Responses to An Insurmountable Challenge: Notes on the infamous Rookie Challenge

  1. thecornerthree says:

    Rookies rock! As a believer in APBRmetrics, I am happy Dejaun Blair proved ihs worth. Rebounding monster. I expect him to continue to be the man.

    • slickmilicic says:

      Blair is a beast, but the rookies were just way too fast. Love/Lopez/Gasol are non-factors in a track-meet type of game. Durant exploited that brilliantly. I wish he was player-coaching the Wizards.

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