Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chalmers Omitted from Rookie Squad- Understandable, But Unfortunate

Michael Beasley deserves to participate in the Rookie-Sophomore Game, but there’s no way he should be the lone Miami Heat rookie present. He’s arguably not even the top choice among Heat rookies. Given the depth at the point guard position in this year’s rookie class, headed by Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, it’s understandable that another point guard spot wasn’t available for Mario Chalmers- but it’s really unfortunate.

Mario Chalmers has started all but one game this season at the point guard position, averaging just under ten points, five assists and two steals. Adding to the challenge of playing the most difficult position on the floor, Chalmers lines up and plays big minutes alongside a bona fide superstar in the backcourt. As beneficial as it is playing with Dwyane Wade, it cannot be easy, particularly for a rookie point guard. Wade’s a champion, a perennial MVP-candidate, the owner of a Finals MVP award and a gold medal, and coming off an injury-plagued season that saw the Heat win just fifteen games, he’s dying to return to the top of the NBA, so it’s probably safe to assume that he’s not eager to spend several seasons in the midst of a rebuilding process.

Of the NBA’s top three rookie point guards, Chalmers is arguably going to be the most influential this season. While Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder have been near the bottom of the NBA all season, and Rose’s Bulls, while just 2½ game out of a playoff spot, have dropped seven of their last ten games and fallen to thirteenth in the Eastern Conference, the Heat are currently fifth in the East, half a game behind the Atlanta Hawks for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, having won seven of ten games and sport a solid 6-3 division record, highlighted by big back-to-back wins this week over the Hawks and the Orlando Magic. In the midst of “rookie wall” territory, Chalmers playing a significant role, averaging 16 points, 6 assists and two steals in roughly 35 minutes per game.

Again, it’s understandable that Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook were tapped as members of the Rookie squad that will taken on the Sophomores in Phoenix on All-Star Saturday, but it’s not because Mario Chalmers didn’t do enough to warrant the same honor.

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