By Bryan Armen Graham
March 03, 2009

After watching Derrick Rose top the Rookie Rankings for more than three months, we've seen two other headliners in the last two weeks. If you're looking for clarity in the Rookie of the Year race, you've come to the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whereas only Rose and O.J. Mayo could make a legitimate claim for freshman supremacy just weeks ago, the roll of bona fide candidates has now doubled thanks to the emergence of Russell Westbrook and Brook Lopez.

(All stats and records are through Monday.)

NBA Rookie Rankings
1 Russell Westbrook
Last Week: 4
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thinder
Hours after being named Western Conference's Rookie of the Month for February, the point guard got a jump on the March race. With starting forwards Kevin Durant and Jeff Green sidelined by injury, Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 41 minutes in Oklahoma City's 96-87 victory against Dallas on Monday. "Russell did a good job of making guys better," Thunder coach Scott Brooks told The Oklahoman after Westbrook's first career triple-double. "He's learning how to play a position, and he's doing a great job. He's improving month to month. I don't look at Russell game to game. I look at him in bigger chunks. ... He's improved every month, and we all see that."
2 Derrick Rose
Last Week: 2
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Rose's highlight of the week came Saturday when he scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter -- including a decisive 7-footer with 32 seconds left -- to help the Bulls rally from a 17-point deficit in the final six minutes of a 105-102 victory against the Rockets. During the radio broadcast of Saturday's game, general manager John Paxson took issue with coach Vinny Del Negro for benching Rose in crunch time of previous games. "I've talked to Vinny about this," Paxson said. "Our future is Derrick. That's no secret. There are times that I feel -- and Vinny knows this -- that he should be on the floor at the end of games."
3 O.J. Mayo
Last Week: 1
O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies
Mayo's streak of 17 games of double-figure scoring ended in Cleveland when he had seven points (on 3-of-11 shooting from the field). He rebounded to score 21 points in Indiana and 18 more against Oklahoma City, hitting 7-of-17 both times. The 21-year-old guard wound up averaging 19.7 points in 11 games in February, his shooting percentage falling for the third straight month (to 41.2).
4 Brook Lopez
Last Week: 3
Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets
Lopez on Monday became the first player in franchise history to win back-to-back Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards. The 7-footer from Stanford led the conference's rookies last month in scoring (15.9), rebounding (8.5), blocked shots (1.7) and field-goal percentage (61.0). For the season, he ranks sixth in the NBA in blocks (1.9) and 17th in field-goal percentage (51.4).
5 Kevin Love
Last Week: 5
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
The forward-center has put together two impressive, consistent months: After averaging 12.6 points and 10.0 rebounds in January, he produced 12.2 points and 10.0 rebounds in February. Love, however, has not been able to prevent the Timberwolves from floundering without Al Jefferson. Minnesota has lost eight of nine since its leading scorer and rebounder sustained a torn ACL.
6 Marc Gasol
Last Week: 9
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
The Spaniard erupted for game highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds in a 104-99 loss to the Pacers last Wednesday. After averaging 10.3 points (on 56.1 percent shooting) and 8.6 rebounds in February, Gasol was to open March on Tuesday with a third meeting opposite his older brother, Pau. "I think he's playing really well, solid," the Lakers' big man told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "He's playing big minutes and starting. I think he's being pretty consistent and helping out. ... But it's his first year and it's a tough, tough situation. There is a lot of losing, changing the coach. It's a lot to go through in his first year. But he's still performing well and contributing."
7 Michael Beasley
Last Week: 7
Michael Beasley, Miami Heat
Beasley's 23-point performance Friday in Atlanta was two shy of his career high and gave him seven 20-point games off the bench for the season. He's averaging a modest 24.2 minutes, but more and more of his playing time is coming in the fourth quarter -- a testament to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra's growing confidence in him. With Miami in contention for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Heat is on for the second overall pick. "We have to stay focused," Beasley told the Miami Herald. "I never liked the [rookie] excuse. If you're here, you're here. If you're getting paid to do a job, you have to do it."
8 Rudy Fernandez
Last Week: 10
Rudy Fernandez, Portland Trail Blazers
Fernandez contributed a February-high 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting (including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc) in Friday's 102-82 victory at Minnesota. He's made a franchise-rookie-record 116 three-pointers this season and set an NBA mark for first-year players with at least one trey in 33 consecutive games. Like Miami's Beasley and Mario Chalmers, Fernandez finds himself in the middle of a race for home-court advantage with about six weeks left in the regular season.
9 Mario Chalmers
Last Week: 8
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
Chalmers' playing time dropped recently as he struggled with foul trouble, though he did mange to play 40 minutes and finish with 15 points in Monday's 107-100 loss to Cleveland. "I just want to see myself getting better," Chalmers told the Miami Herald. "I still have to keep working on my defense. That's the area of my game that's slacking now." On the other end of the court, Chalmers has raised his three-point total to 81, the most by a rookie in franchise history.
10 Eric Gordon
Last Week: 6
Eric Gordon, L.A. Clippers
Gordon has missed three consecutive games since leaving last week's victory against Boston with a bruised left shoulder. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy told reporters that he expected the starting shooting guard to return Wednesday against Memphis in Los Angeles. The 20-year-old Gordon is averaging 20.3 points since Jan. 1, tops among rookies in that period, and 15.1 points overall in 58 games.
Honorable Mention
Jason Thompson, Kings (8.0 points, 8.0 rebounds in three games); Courtney Lee, Magic (14.0 ppg in four games); Greg Oden, Trail Blazers (missed last seven games with knee injury).

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