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NBA: Rookie/Sophmore Lineups

NBA: Rookie/Sophmore Lineups

Rookie Team Roster

Michael Beasley (Heat)

Rudy Fernandez (Trail Blazers)

Marc Gasol (Grizzlies)

Eric Gordon (Clippers)

Brook Lopez (Nets)

O.J. Mayo (Grizzlies)

Greg Oden (Trail Blazers)

Derrick Rose (Bulls)

Russell Westbrook (Thunder)

Sophomore Team Roster

Aaron Brooks (Rockets)

Wilson Chandler (Knicks)

Kevin Durant (Thunder)

Jeff Green (Thunder)

Al Horford (Hawks)

Luis Scola (Rockets)

Al Thornton (Clippers)

Rodney Stuckey (Pistons)

Thaddeus Young (Sixers)

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Re: NBA: Rookie/Sophmore Lineups

Betting the Rookie-Sophomore game

The Rookies vs. Sophomores Challenge has been a completely one sided affair in recent years. The results don't lie:

2008 Sophomores 136-109

2007 Sophomores 155-114

2006 Sophomores 106-96

2005 Sophomores 133-106

2004 Sophomores 142-118

2003 Sophomores 132-112

That’s six straight wins, all by double-digit margins. Five of the wins have come by 20 points or more. The last two sophomore victories have come by a combined margin of 68 points. Clearly, the NBA rookies have not fared well against their second-year counterparts.

So why did the pointspread open at -6 this year and subsequently get bet down? You can currently bet this game at -5 here in Vegas; -5.5 at reduced juice offshore. Either this pointspread is way off or the betting marketplace sees some unique circumstances on tap for tonight’s Rookie vs. Sophomores Challenge. Let’s take a closer look at the last two years – the two games played since the rosters were shortened from eleven players per team to nine players.

Remember, the rookies getting pounded one year become the sophomores doing the pounding the next. The ’07 rookie roster was Andrea Bargnani, Jordan Farmar, Randy Foye, Jorge Garbajosa, Rudy Gay, Paul Millsap, Adam Morrison, Brandon Roy and Marcus Williams. The ’08 sophomores had only five of those nine players getting back into the game (Bargnani, Farmar, Gay, Millsap and Roy) joined by LaMarcus Aldridge, Boobie Gibson, Rajon Rondo and Ronnie Brewer.

In ’06, the rookies were Andrew Bogut, Channing Frye, Danny Granger, Luther Head, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Chris Paul, Nate Robinson, Charlie Villanueva and Deron Williams. In ’07, we say Granger, Bogut, Paul, Head and Williams make the squad, joined by Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis, Raymond Felton and David Lee.

As we can see, there is a fair bit of turnover from one year to the next in terms of the rosters. Last year, the rookie team consisted of Mike Conley Jr., Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Al Horford, Jamario Moon, Juan Carlos Navarro, Luis Scola, Sean Williams and Yi Jianlian. As sophomores this year, only Durant, Green, Horford and Scola return, joined by Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey, Al Thornton, Thaddeus Young and Wilson Chandler.

On paper, there are two noticeable weaknesses on that roster. First is at point guard. Stuckey seems to have hit a wall in recent weeks, seeing his production rapidly decline here in February. At 205 pounds, playing nearly twice as many minutes as he did last year since becoming the starting point guard for the Pistons, he’s really looked out of gas for the last couple of weeks. Aaron Brooks is lightning quick but he’s not the equivalent of the point guards we’ve seen on the sophomore squads in recent years.

Those two will have to match up against Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Rudy Fernandez. Rose is a star already. Westbrook might be better suited for the 2-guard spot but he’s having one heck of a rookie year in Oklahoma City and Fernandez is a seasoned veteran from his days winning championships with the Spanish national team, including their near upset of Team USA in the Gold Medal game of the Olympics last summer. Advantage: Rookies.

Then we have the low post matchups. The rookies have a trio of seven footers. Greg Oden played last night and might not be a big factor here, especially considering the up-tempo pace this game is likely to be played at. Marc Gasol is another seasoned veteran from the Spanish national team. And Brook Lopez has been a low post force for the Nets this year, a big part of New Jersey’s surprising competitiveness in ’08-’09.

The sophomores have Al Horford and Luis Scola in the low post. Both are wide bodies. Neither is a dominant rebounder or shot blocker. I’ll give the edge in the paint to the rookies as well.

The sophomores clearly have the advantage on the wing and the style of this up-tempo affair tends to favor the shooters as opposed to the low post players or the point guards. The posted total is sitting around 250, although the early money has come in on the under. The sophomores have Durant, Green, Thornton, Young and Chandler matching up against Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon and OJ Mayo. Advantage: Sophomores.

I’m not willing to bet against the dominant trend supporting the players who have been here before – my lean has to be towards the favorite in this one. Yet the rookies are not starry eyed youngsters, not with the Fernandez-Gasol duo likely to be on the floor during crunch time. And I’m especially concerned with the matchup edge favoring the rookies at point guard. Derrick Rose just ate Stuckey for breakfast in the fourth quarter three nights ago. That’ll keep me on the sidelines for tonight’s affair which is a fun game to watch but a tough game to bet on

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