Bryan Armen Graham
Tuesday March 24th, 2009

So much for the two-horse race between Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo in the chase for Rookie of the Year honors.

Mayo continues to fizzle while his Grizzlies flounder: They've won just twice in the past 40 days, with Mayo connecting on a scattershot 40.5 percent from the floor over that span. And while Rose appears to have the Bulls on course for the playoffs, first-year classmates Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook have been mounting threats to the crown.

Meanwhile, Portland's Rudy Fernandez and Sacramento's Jason Thompson make their returns to the top 10 this week.

(All stats and records are through Monday.)

NBA Rookie Rankings
1Derrick Rose
Last Week: 2
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Rose averaged 18.3 points, 5.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds in four games over the last week -- highlighted by consecutive 25-point outings -- as the Bulls went 3-1 to improve their postseason prospects. In helping Chicago topple the Thunder last Wednesday, Rose became the first player to shoot 10-for-10 or better in the second half of a game since Dwight Howard on Mar. 14, 2007. Rose and Co. continue their playoff chase this week with home games against Detroit, Miami and Indiana and a road game at Toronto.
2Russell Westbrook
Last Week: 1
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Many were surprised when Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti took Westbrook with the No. 4 pick last June -- but not Westbrook's former UCLA teammate Kevin Love. "They got it right," Love told the Oklahoman. "It was a great pick. People don't realize he's really young and was supposed to be in the '07 high school (senior) class. He's long, athletic. I saw it all last year. I saw it all last summer." The Thunder have won seven of their last 12 games, with the 20-year-old Westbrook averaging 16.3 points, 5.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds over that span.
3Brook Lopez
Last Week: 3
Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets
The Nets' postseason hopes might be fading -- they're 2½ games behind Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East -- but Lopez's individual game continues to prompt rave reviews around the NBA. "From what I've seen he's doing a fantastic job clogging up the middle for them, scoring when they get him the ball, rebounding, being a force in there," Orlando assistant coach Patrick Ewing told The Record. "I know he's a very good player right now, and if he wants to and he works at it he can be an outstanding player."
4Kevin Love
Last Week: 6
Kevin Love, Minneosta Timberwolves
Twelve months since leading UCLA to the Final Four, Love has blossomed into one of the best young power forwards around, ranking tops among rookies in rebounding (9.0 rpg) and double-doubles (23). Over a brutal stretch of five games in the past seven days, Love averaged 17 points and 10.8 rebounds, providing one of the few bright spots in a Timberwolves season that was over long ago.
5O.J. Mayo
Last Week: 5
O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies
One theory behind Mayo's prolonged slump is that the 21-year-old shooting guard is a victim of his own success. "When we play teams, their first thought is to take away O.J.," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "Unfortunately for O.J., he started out so well that people are focusing on him." Mayo did have a strong offensive game Monday, scoring 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting in a loss to Miami.
6Marc Gasol
Last Week: 4
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
After opening the month of March with eight straight double-digit scoring performances, Gasol's offensive numbers took a bit of a dip in the last week, an understandable decline given the string of probable playoff teams the Grizzles were facing. But the 7-footer from Barcelona is still averaging 14.4 points (on 54.8 percent shooting), 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 blocks in 11 games this month, positioning himself nicely for Western Conference Rookie of the Month contention.
7Jason Thompson
Last Week: NR
Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings
Thompson, the lone member of the Kings to have played in every game this year, has suffered from inconsistency since his impressive November debut. But the former Rider star returns to the Rookie Rankings thanks to four double-doubles in his last five games, a stretch in which Thompson has averaged 13.8 points and 11.6 rebounds.
8Rudy Fernandez
Last Week: NR
Rudy Fernandez, Portland Trail Blazers
After missing two games as a result of the chest and hip injuries he suffered on a hard foul by the Lakers' Trevor Ariza on March 9, Fernandez shot an uncharacteristic 26.2 percent from the floor in his first five games back. But fears of a slump were dismissed Monday against the Sixers: Fernandez played through elbow pain and scored 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting (including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc).
9Michael Beasley
Last Week: 8
Michael Beasley, Miami Heat
On most other teams, Beasley's instinct for scoring in bunches might lead to more playing time -- but not on the defense-first Heat. Until the Kansas State product improves his defense (along with his work ethic on the glass), he'll be relegated to the sparkplug-off-the-bench role under the watch of Erik Spoelstra, who has chided Beasley to use his 40-inch vertical as much in games as he has in practice.
10Eric Gordon
Last Week: 7
Eric Gordon, L.A. Clippers
Gordon is shooting just 6-for-22 (27.3 percent) from the floor over the past two games, including 0-for-7 from three-point range. That's a bona fide slump for an offensive dynamo who ranks first among rookies in scoring since New Year's Day (19.4 ppg). His eight-point outing Monday in Boston snapped a streak of eight straight games of scoring in double figures. A date with the defenseless Knicks on Wednesday could lead to a quick recovery.
Honorable Mention
Courtney Lee, Magic (16.8 ppg in four games); Mario Chalmers, Heat (9.8 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.3 rpg in four games); JaVale McGee, Wizards (10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg in five games); Anthony Morrow, Warriors (12.3 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.5 rpg in four games).
Dropped Out
D.J. Augustin, Bobcats.

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