Do you remember just this past past offseason when there was drama at the NBA Rookie orientation camp? Well, of course you do, as we’re only less than a week into the regular season.
In case you were sleeping, the big news was the discovery by NBA officials of Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur in their room with reportedly, a bunch of ladies and a bunch of weed. Needless to say, David Stern, the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies were not thrilled with this little scenario.
Jumping forward a number of weeks and both Chalmers and Arthur are doing everything in their power to make people forget that incident. They want to be remembered for playing dope, not doing it. As Chalmers said in a recent interview with InsideHoops, he has put the offseason events behind him, “It’s a new day. I’ve dealt with all those issues and I’m ready to play ball. I’ve put all of that behind me.”
Chalmers has come into this season as the starter at point guard for the Heat, a tough position to be in for a rookie in his debut NBA game. Despite this, he and Arthur put up possibly the two best rookie debut performances of the season. Chalmers finished the tight, high-scoring loss to the New York Knicks with 17 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and only one turnover. Dope numbers indeed. More than this, Chalmers played a key role down the stretch, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter after star teammate Dwyane Wade fouled out.
Over in Houston, Arthur made an impact in Memphis’ loss to the Rockets. The 6’9″ forward, whose rights were held by almost every NBA team during the offseason, came off the bench for 11 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks in 27 minutes. Hardly the numbers you would expect from the 27th pick in the draft. In his first game, he fell only three rebounds short of the Grizzlies rookie rebound record (held by Big Country Reeves). He may give that record a push by the end of the season if this performance was anything to go by.
Meanwhile more heralded rookies disappointed somewhat. The fate of Greg Oden in his first game has been well documented. The unfortunate big man was injured, limiting him to 5 rebounds and a block in 13 minutes. Chalmers’ high-profile teammate Michael Beasley, the second pick in the 2008 draft, managed nine points on 4-14 shooting with three turnovers in his 27 minutes. Not terrible numbers for a rookie, but definitely second fiddle to his rookie teammate’s.
High-end picks like Beasley and Oden have a heap of media attention placed on them and this has appeared to put jitters into their games early on, as would be expected for youngsters performing on such a high stage. As Chalmers said of Beasley, “I thought Mike was a little nervous, but I think he played pretty well for his first game. Once he got going, he looked pretty good. He’s only going to get better.”
The reduced amount of pressure on Chalmers and Arthur has allowed them to fly under the radar, play within themselves and seemingly perform better as a result. Or perhaps they found a way to relax that the others didn’t.
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