Rookies Making a Difference in the 2010-2011 Playoffs

           Everyone knows that the current race for Rookie of the Year was not really a contest. Blake Griffin dominated the race the whole year and will walk away with the hardware to prove it. While Griffin is considered a rookie even though he was not drafted this past year, John Wall was drafted in this year's draft class. John Wall dealt with injuries and had a subpar season. If Griffin was not considered a rookie, wall probably would have won the award. Now let's look at other rookies who have made a difference to get their team to the playoffs or who have helped their team in the playoffs.

        We will start with the Bulls vs. Pacers playoff series. For the Bulls, they have a 24 year old rookie from Turkey, Omer Asik. His numbers do not blow you away but consider this; at the trade deadline the Bulls refused to deal him away even for Carmelo Anthony! He will continue to get better and earn more playing time as he is a legit 7- footer who can play defense and rebound. The Pacers drafted Paul George with the 10th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and it has certainly paid off. George is a lengthy forward who may be the best defender in the rookie class. He is making his defensive presence known in the first round playoff matchup with the Bulls.

        In the New York Knicks series vs. the Boston Celtics, really only one rookie stands out. That rookie is Landry Fields. During the regular season, Fields disappeared at times but showed flashes of brilliance. He has not had a good playoff series so far and either have the Knicks, but he is gaining valuable experience. If the Knicks keep him, Fields will be a key player for years to come. He can score from behind the arc as well as dish the rock. In his first year he averaged over 30 minutes a game and played in all 82 regular season games. This may be the very reason that Fields was inconsistent.

        The Spurs have two key rookies this season that helped their "big 3" to achieve one of the best records in the regular season. Tiago Splitter's debut has been talked about for years, but this year was the year! This is a 25 year old Rookie from Brazil who was much hyped over the past few years while he was playing overseas. He has yet to record a minute in the playoffs but the Spurs still think that the sky is the limit for this Rookie. The Spurs other rookie who flew under the radar in the draft, and during the regular season is Gary Neal. Neal is a rookie from Towson University who failed to get drafted in the 2007 NBA Draft, and ended up playing overseas until this year. Neal is another older rookie making his debut in the NBA this year. Neal has been a nice addition to the veteran Spurs roster as a backup Guard to give their veterans some rest.

        Evan Turner was the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. There was some debate whether or not he should have been taken #1 over John Wall, much like the Derrick Rose/Michael Beasley debate. Turner had a disappointing season even know his team reached the playoffs. The Miami Heat had a 3-0 lead in the series over the 76ers but Evan Turner helped lead Philadelphia to their first win of the series and avoided being swept. In his 4 games so far during the playoffs, he has had two games where he scored 2 points and played under 10 minutes. In the other two games including his team's first win of the playoffs, he scored 15, and 17 points respectively. The two games where he scored in double digits, he also played 26 and 27 minutes. Turner could be a key to this team's future success.

By Steven Spector - 4-25-11