Yesterday, the NBA All-Rookie First Team was finally unveiled, with Blake Griffin securing the only unanimous selection of the group including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Landry Fields and Gary Neal. As for the Clips’ wonder kid, we’ve been dropping highlights of his monster games and dunks all season long. Griffin may have gotten the winner’s share of the media limelight this year, but all five of these guys rose to the occasion on more than a few instances. And to celebrate their inclusion on the All-Rookie First Team, here are our favorite individual highlights of the rooks.
Blake Griffin, “The Play That Should’ve Been”
For whatever reason, this one got lost in the highlight shuffle. It’s a shame because this dunk had the possibility of being Griffin’s best during his rookie season. Playing against the Suns â€“ in a game where the Clips never seemed to find any sort of a rhythm â€“ The Blake Show rose up from a step inside the dotted circle to cram one home on Phoenix’s Marcin Gortat. The real crime though, was that Griffin was called for a charge on the play, his sixth and final foul of the game. So, not only did Blake not technically receive credit for destroying The Polish Hammer, he got sent back to the bench for it.
John Wall, “The Perfect Bounce”
This was a tough one. There was that buzzer beater against Washington, the Dougie dance that introduced the new Wizard to the League and the hundred times he cruised coast-to-coast before the D even knew the ball was live. The kid also dished out some assists, 8.3 a game to be exact, and none were sweeter than the bounce alley-oop to Blake Griffin during All-Star Weekend. The Rookie-Sophomore game might not win any medals for its defensive prowess, but don’t let that discount just how amazing this pass was. From outside of the three-line, Wall delivered an oop on point to a slashing Griffin off the break. Dirty.
Landry Fields, “Rises Up”
Between getting buckets, having his own web show and working at Modell’s, New York rookie Landry Fields was showing up everywhere this season. And the second-round pick out of Stanford definitely made his mark known in the Big Apple. It’s hard to pick a specific moment for the guy because even as a first-year pro, he did so many things well on the court. If I had to go with one, it would have to be from the first half of the season against the Raptors, where Fields exploded for a vicious put-back slam. For such a calm and unassuming guy, he sure as hell let loose on this play.
DeMarcus Cousins, “Double Winner”
Cousins’ first season in the League came complete with a few flare-ups, questionable hand gestures and some promising play from the Kings’ rookie. And during a two-game win streak (tied for the Kings’ second longest streak on the year) on the road against the Lakers and at home with the Hornets, Cousins went off. Against L.A., the big man dropped 27 points and 10 boards, and followed that up with a 25 and 12 outing the following night against New Orleans. Not really a single highlight, but still… alright, here’s a dunk.
Gary Neal, “Dribble, Fire For The Tie”
There wasn’t a whole lot for Spurs Nation to get excited about during their first-round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies to start the playoffs, but Neal provided some good vibes in Game 5. With 1.7 seconds left on the clock, the rook drained a clutch trey at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. San Antonio ended up winning the game, but losing the series. Still, Neal’s presence all season long was nothing short of amazing for the Spurs. Not bad for an undrafted rookie from Towson.
What was your favorite highlight for each of these rookies?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @jensenjack.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.