Veterans in Rookie Clothing

November 20th, 2009 | by Spencer Hall

Few things put a hop in my step like seeing Jerry Sloan playing two rookies in crunch time of must-win games. Wesley Matthews wasn’t even drafted and now he’s starting for the Jazz and helping them win in San Antonio for the first time in almost 12 years. Eric Maynor made a splash in the NCAA tournament and spent four years at VCU proving the doubters wrong at every turn, but no one outside his immediate family imagined his scoring 24 points on the road against the Cavs and getting dap from a clearly impressed LeBron James after the game.

I get e-mail every day from longtime Maynor and Matthews fans who tell me I shouldn’t be surprised, but even John Stockton and Deron Williams had to watch from the bench early in their first season.

Clearly, there’s something to be said for picking up players who have a proven track record. Both Maynor and Matthews played four years of college ball and got better each year. Shouldn’t we have learned from the case of Paul Millsap? He led the NCAA in rebounding for three years at Louisiana Tech and still slipped to the second round of the draft before the Jazz picked up the future $10 million man.

Take a look at the ages: Maynor is 22, Matthews is 23, and LeBron, who seems to have always been with us, is 24. The boys at FreeDarko have been trying to warn us about the Myth of the NEXT for years. Maybe it’s time we gave Sloan some credit for not being seduced by the call of ridiculous upside and sticking with the qualities that landed him in the Hall of Fame. Read what DraftExpress had to say about Matthews back in May:

“Matthews isn’t a bad athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but he doesn’t play above the rim as consistently as most NBA wings, nor does he have the dynamite first step that will let him get to the rim at the next level with the same frequency that he has at Marquette. What he does have is great functional strength, a good basketball IQ, and a willingness to do the little things.”

Does that sound like a player Sloan might like?

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Originally posted in the Daily Dime at ESPN.com. Read the other nine drops here.

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at KSL.com
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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