The NBA rookies and second-year players will play their exhibition Feb. 12 as the Friday night kickoff to All-Star weekend in Dallas. The challenge with the rookies will be to fit all the deserving point guards on a nine-player roster.
The three leading rookie scorers are point guards: Sacramento's Tyreke Evans at 20.3 points, Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings at 19.0 and the Timberwolves' Jonny Flynn at 14.2.
There are two other point guards who definitely will belong in the rookie game: Golden State's Stephen Curry, averaging 12.3 points, and Denver's Ty Lawson, at 9.5.
And that's not all. Eric Maynor was traded by Utah to Oklahoma City as a cost-saver for the Jazz, and the Thunder couldn't be happier. New Orleans also has found minutes for Darren Collison as the backup to Chris Paul.
The seven rookies are each averaging more than three assists per game: Jennings (5.9), Evans (5.0), Curry (4.5), Flynn (4.0), Lawson (3.9), Collison (3.3) and Maynor (3.1).
NBA coaches have complained regularly in recent times over the difficulty of finding point guards, and now one rookie class has seven with a chance to be regulars for most of this decade.
On Wednesday night, Flynn was matched against Curry, the Davidson jump shooter the Timberwolves passed on in order to take back-to-back point guards: Ricky Rubio, in Spain for two more seasons, at No. 5 and Flynn at No. 6. The safe move for basketball boss David Kahn was to take Flynn and Curry, a combo that would have made the Wolves a much more impressive group at this moment, and perhaps down the road.
Curry made his college reputation as a shooter who spent much of his time running off screens to get open. Wolves coach Kurt Rambis was asked about Curry before Wednesday's game and mentioned the pre-draft skepticism over the Davidson star's ability to play point guard.
Golden State coach Don Nelson had an answer: Curry and Monta Ellis play together in the backcourt and split the ballhandling. Rambis described Curry's point guard play as "very impressive," and that was before watching him Wednesday.
The real NBA aficionados in the sparse crowd figured to have an interest in the matchup of the two rookies. If so, the first 24 minutes were beyond disconcerting for the hometowners.
Curry was smooth in the open court, in the half-court and with his famous shooting stroke. Flynn was so ineffective that Rambis hooked him with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter and kept him on the bench for the next 10 minutes.
Curry opened the game by picking up a loose ball, driving toward Flynn and then feeding Ellis for a layup. Soon, he was popping a pull-up jumper and then hitting Corey Maggette for a layup -- two quick baskets for a 12-8 Warriors lead.
Ellis had four steals in the first quarter, two on passes directly from Kevin Love, and another such pass from Flynn. Curry finished with 12 points, three assists and no turnovers in the first half. Flynn's numbers were two points, two assists and four turnovers.
Flynn missed two shots in the first three minutes of the second half, then went to the bench for the next 13 minutes. He returned in time to be involved in the game's crucial exchange.
The Wolves were down five and Flynn tried to get to the basket. His runner was blocked, he wound up on the court and Ellis raced to other end for a basket that made it 91-84.
Flynn finished with six points and Curry had 16. That mismatch between rookie point guards was as much the reason as any that the Warriors ended an eight-game road losing streak with a 107-101 victory.
Rambis was generous in his review of Flynn's play in his pregame media session. Four hours later, the rookie had played 25 ineffective minutes. A reporter's question about the point guard came in the form of a comment:
"Jonny couldn't get anything going all night, it seemed."
Rambis nodded and said: "It looked that way to you, too, huh? I think guys -- Jonny wasn't the only one -- were trying to manufacture things, rather than read the defense and take what's there."
Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. • firstname.lastname@example.org