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2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year rankings

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2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year rankings

We came into the 2017-18 NBA season with a rookie class dripping with hype. 

After last year's group, that saw second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon win Rookie of the Year in surprising fashion, most NBA fans were ready to see more of the "instant NBA star" type of rookie this year.

The problem is, they're just that, rookies.

Far too often we forget it takes time for even the most talented players to adjust to life at this level. 

Some early on have shown they have potential to be stars, others, have a lot to learn. 

Then there's the few, who weren't part of the hype train, that have taken the casual NBA fan by surprise so far this season.

Here's our NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings:

 

5. Kyle Kuzma, Lakers

Most expected a different name to be the best rookie on the Lakers in 2017. Kuzma though, has been the one to stand out so far.

Early in player's careers, shooting can be a major issue (*as you immediately think of Lonzo Ball*). 

Kuzma is shooting 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from three, on over four attempts per game. 

He's also leading the Lakers in scoring, and competing with his teammate Ball as to who's better with the media.

 

4. Lauri Markkanen, Bulls

The early production from Markkanen can certainly help ease the pain of the Jimmy Butler trade this offseason.

The 7-footer out of Arizona, naturally, draws comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki  and Kristaps Porzinigis, with his size and ability to stretch the floor. 

Markkanen has shown an early knack for rebounding, along with an ability to put the ball on the floor. 

Yes the Bulls are terrible, but at least they seem to have one player they can build a future around.

 

3. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

During the draft, there was a sort of cult-following for Mitchell, mainly because of his ability to get you to click on every YouTube dunk video with his name on it. 

So far though, Mitchell has proven to be vital to the post-Gordon Hayward Jazz. 

More than just a high-flying 3-and-D guy, Mitchell is second in scoring for Utah, and is showing the rest of the league how deep this draft class just might end up being.

 

RELATED: THE GOOD AND BAD OF THE WIZARDS SO FAR

 

2. Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Tatum has a chance to end up being the most complete player in this draft down the road. 

The biggest thing about him is the amount of improvement we've seen since his one year at Duke. 

He's shooting nearly 50 percent overall, and 48 percent from three, which is a massive improvement from college.

Add that to the fact that he can get you 14 points a game on just nine shots, far and away the fewest attempts out of any player on this list. 

Just think, the Celtics traded DOWN to get this kid. 

 

1. Ben Simmons, Sixers

The amazing part about Simmons has been that he's made himself such a threat offensively without making a single three-pointer yet this year.

In fact, he doesn't even try. Almost 73 percent of his shot attempts are inside 10 feet. 

He's the size of a center, playing point guard, and is a triple-double threat almost every night. 

You do wonder though, how teams will use his lack of outside shooting against him as time goes on.

For now though, it's more fun to just sit back and watch him make the Sixers worth our attention again. 

 

"Guys to keep an eye on" tier: Dennis Smith Jr., De'Aaron Fox, John Collins, Frank Ntilikina, Mike James

The "where have they been?" tier: Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Markelle Fultz 

 

RELATED: MORRIS SEES SIMMONS AND EMBIID AS NEXT SHAQ AND PENNY

 

 

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Marcin Gortat loses the Mohawk, much to the approval of his teammates and coach

Marcin Gortat loses the Mohawk, much to the approval of his teammates and coach

WASHINGTON — After the Washington Wizards fell behind to a 0-2 hole in their series with the Toronto Raptors, there were a lot places where people jumped to criticism. Marcin Gortat was right in the middle of that discussion after his Game 2 performance.

Heading into Game 3 though, Gortat made a change. Not only on the court, but in his appearance.

Yep, he shaved the Mohawk.

“There were a lot of people insisting,” Gortat said. “Keef [Markieff Morris] was bringing, for the past week, he was bringing clippers to the practice to try to shave me after practice, but I was always dipping.”

“I pulled a Houdini trick, I was disappearing right at the end of the practice. So I finally said 'You know what I'm done' fixing, you know it takes a lot of time to maintain that so I decided to shave it. And I'm glad because I was smoother out there.”

Smooth is right, and to the tune of 16 points, 8-of-10 shooting in nearly 26 minutes of action, Gortat had his best scoring output since March 17. He was one of five Wizards to reach double figures on the evening.

“That was the key,” John Wall said.

Often times in sport it superstitious to shave anything during the postseason. After all, the Mohawk has been a staple for the 6-11 center for the entire 2017-18 season. Now he is back to his polished look, one that helps identify the ‘Polish Hammer.’

“We needed the old Marc back, we need the hammer back. I felt like we got him back,” Morris said. “I'd cut his head. He's too cute with that Mohawk.”

A small sample size, but Morris’ point is valid. Time will tell if the post-mohawk era for Gortat will favor the Wizards past one game.

“I think he got an age-appropriate haircut,” head coach Scott Brooks said.

He has a point too… Gortat is 34-years-old.

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Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Perhaps Toronto and their fans would disagree, but through two games the first round playoff series between the Wizards and Raptors had been relatively uneventful, maybe even boring to the casual observer. For those who have watched the Wizards in recent years, something just seemed off with them.

Not only were Bradley Beal and Otto Porter struggling to score, but the energy and grit we're used to from the Wizards in the postseason just wasn't there. Three minutes into Game 3 on Friday night, that all changed.

Wizards forward Markieff Morris got tangled with Raptors rookie OG Anunoby and fell to the ground. He rose up, shoved Anunoby and gave Serge Ibaka a push for good measure. It cost Morris a technical, but he wasn't ejected. From there, the tone was set.

This was to be a physical game and the Wizards were going to make sure of it. That's how they prefer to play and that nastiness had been missing thus far in this series.

"I think OG [Anunoby] did not know the scouting report because he did not know that Keef is one of the people you do not mess with in this world," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He will learn.”

The fireworks didn't end there. Beal and Jonas Valanciunas got into it and so did John Wall and Anunoby, and then Wall and Ibaka.

The Wizards made a name for themselves in the 2016-17 season when they won 49 games and were one win away from the conference finals as a team that would instigate contact and talk trash. They prided themselves on being old school in that regard and were praised for it by former NBA tough guys like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson.

This season, they just haven't been able to do it as often.

"We have been there at spurts throughout the year, we just have not been there consistently," Oubre said. "Now it is do or die. We just need to bring that Death Row mentality.”

Oubre also joked that rapper Drake started it all by sitting courtside in Toronto and talking trash. Truthfully, their backs were against the wall and they had no choice but to punch back.

The Wizards entered Friday's game down 0-2 to the Raptors with Game 2 a dispirited blowout. If they went down 0-3, they would essentially have been dead in the water. No team has come back from that deficit in NBA history.

This time, they weren't going to go down without a fight.

"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]," center Marcin Gortat said. "If you see your teammate fighting, I'm going to fight with him. That's the bottom-line."

"We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves," Beal said. "Keef is a bully... we are physical team." 

As for Morris, the enforcer himself, he let his actions speak for themselves. He didn't take the bait on most questions, but did wear a 'Death Row D.C.' shirt during his media availability. Morris came up with that nickname last season to convey the toughness he wants the Wizards to play with.

"We need some physicality," Morris said. "I feel like when we were in Toronto, they were doing everything too freely. This kind of set the tone for the whole series... we need to keep our same mean mentality. If they wanna fight, we will fight."

The Wizards fought the Hawks and Celtics last year tooth-and-nail and often used physical play to their advantage. It worked in Game 3 against the Raptors. Now the Wizards will have to counter however Toronto chooses to respond.

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