NBA Question of the Day: Who will be rookie of the year?
Who will be rookie of the year?
From now until the start of NBA training camps, we'll be asking a question about the league and the upcoming season. Today: Who will be rookie of the year?
BOSTON – Numbers always have a prominent place in the discussion for NBA awards.
But few NBA accolades bear this out more than the league’s Rookie of the Year award, which usually winds up in the hands of the player who scores the most points for their respective team regardless of how it impacts a team’s success.
This year’s rookie class features players with a wide range of talents, with clear and well-defined flaws part of all their games.
And that makes picking the best of the class an inexact science for sure.
But when you look back on how they fared this summer while also factoring in how they will fit in with their respective teams when it comes to playing time, there are a handful of first-year players who are poised to make an immediate impact with their play.
Selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the sixth overall pick, Hield’s greatest strength – shooting – is a skill that teams will tell you they can never have enough of.
A rare four-year college player selected in the lottery (top 14), Hield distinguished himself as the best shooter in college basketball and took home just about every national player of the year award.
As a senior, he averaged 25.0 points while shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 45.7 percent on 3s. What makes the numbers even more impressive was that Hield was a high-volume shooter, taking 601 field goal attempts which was the third-highest total in the nation.
The presence of Anthony Davis will certainly provide Hield with the kind of low-post presence he’s never experienced before. And Hield will certainly use that to his advantage and try to take advantage of what should be cleaner looks at the rim than he had in college.
But the key to his development will be how he’s able to score in other ways besides long jumpers. Hield has the potential to have a really good off-the-dribble game because of his long-range shooting capability and how that opens up more driving lanes or spots to pull up for mid-range jumpers.
Shooting guard is the one position where the Pelicans seem to have a decent amount of depth. Along with the 6-4 Hield, they also have ex-Celtic E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway and Tyreke Evans.
Playing time won’t be given to Hield, but you can bet coach Alvin Gentry will find a way to get Hield decent minutes because Gentry’s plan – to play a faster pace, more uptempo style of game – makes Hield a player that would be a great value in accomplishing that goal.
Philadelphia will likely put Simmons in a point-forward like role, similar to what he had at LSU and, frankly, a role that plays to his greatest strength, which is that of a playmaker.
But the players around him, while young and talented like himself, do not bode well for a player whose success in large part will be predicated on what those around him are capable of doing.
Nerlens Noel is an elite rim-protecting big man who can run the floor extremely well. Look for Simmons to find him a lot in transition. But when the game slows down and becomes more about half court execution, this takes away from what both Simmons and Noel do best.
Of course, they have Jahlil Okafor who is a very good half-court option offensively, but he does have his limitations as a defender and at least as a rookie, wasn’t as willing a passer as many anticipated he would be when he came out of Duke after one season. Plus, he’ll have more competition for minutes in the frontcourt with the addition of Dario Saric and the long-awaited debut of Joel Embiid.
And with the additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez to the backcourt, how much will Simmons really have the ball in his hands? And if he’s playing more off the ball, how effective can he be?
Also, we can’t overlook Embiid finally getting on the floor and his potential impact in what will be his first NBA season. Simmons may not be the best rookie on his team, let alone the best in the league.
Still, Simmons will play and will show flashes of being a really, really good player. But the team’s likely struggles coupled with a roster that’s likely to lead to him playing more without the ball than with it, will all hinder his Rookie of the Year efforts.
Of all the players on this list, no one has a clearer path towards big minutes in a major market than Ingram, an important factor due to the potential exposure to voters.
Lakers coach Luke Walton won’t name Ingram a starter from Day One, it’s clear that Ingram is going to play a lot whether it’s starting or coming off the bench.
The only legitimate competition for minutes will come from Luol Deng, but don’t be surprised if the Lakers put Deng at power forward akin to what the Miami Heat did with Deng last season and allow the 6-9 Ingram to play small forward which is where his 7-3 wingspan can be a huge factor against stronger, more physical wing players.
For Ingram, balancing how to fit in with his new teammates while maintaining a high level of aggression will be challenging.
D’Angelo Russell had a great summer with the Laker’s summer league roster. Returners Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson form a nice young nucleus. Los Angeles also added some serious frontcourt muscle with Timofey Mozgov at center.
The Lakers have lots of pieces that don’t necessarily have a natural fit with one another, and that’s a good thing for Ingram.
It will afford him an opportunity to play his way into a meaningful role without having to adapt his game to a clearly defined system.
The Lakers will win more games this season because they have more talent, more experience and maybe one of the bigger X-factors in their success – Ingram.
The former Providence College guard, selected by Minnesota with the fifth overall pick, was my favorite in the draft to have an amazing career and make an immediate impact wherever he plays.
Dunn has just about all the skills you would want in a point guard coming into the NBA.
He has great size at 6-foot-4 with a wing span that’s on the north side of 6-9.
Dunn comes into the NBA as arguably the best perimeter defender in college basketball, a trait that will make him an instant hit with ex-Celtics assistant and former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who is now the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach as well as President of Basketball Operations.
While he’s not a great shooter, he’s not the least bit afraid about taking big shots.
And he’s an unquestioned leader, one of the most important intangibles of any point guard regardless of the level of play.
But there are a few factors working against him.
As I mentioned earlier, often this award comes down to stats and not necessarily success of the team.
Minnesota is going to be a team in the hunt for a playoff spot this season and Dunn will certainly be one of the factors helping them along that path.
But the driving force behind this team’s success will be the continued development of Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns who by the way, are the past two NBA rookie of the Year award winners.
When they won the award back-to-back for Minnesota, it was the first time since the 1973-1974 Buffalo Braves that the NBA had one franchise deliver league Rookie of the Year award winners in consecutive seasons (Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio).
Dunn must also play well enough to get minutes from Ricky Rubio, who will likely start the season at the point.
Regardless of whether he beats out Rubio or begins the season as a backup, Dunn is going to play and play well enough to where the Timberwolves could potentially do the unthinkable and that’s become the first team in NBA history to have Rookie of the Year award winners in three consecutive seasons.