The NBA is back and it’s time to overreact. (Part 2!)
Before the season, a lot of us made our award predictions. Who will win MVP? ROTY? DPOY? At that time, we didn’t really have much to go off with. We had training camp and the preseason, but those weren’t too good of indicators to tell how a player was going to do in the season. Now, we have about a week of games worth.
Now last time, we’ve already did our MVP rankings (which you should check out)
For this article, we will be covering the Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year races. Let’s get right into it.
Last year’s Rookie of the Year race was one of the most intense we’ve seen in a couple of seasons. Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum headlined last year’s impressive rookie class, and this year’s isn’t looking to disappoint.
Let’s start with the honorable mentions. Perhaps the best out of the list is Marvin Bagley III, the 2nd overall pick who plays for the Sacramento Kings. Bagley III has been averaging 13.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 1.2 bpg while coming OFF THE BENCH. The Kings need to insert Bagley into the starting lineup ASAP so he will be able to develop and play big minutes, because he’s got one of the highest potential in the whole draft class.
Next up is the 4th overall pick, the Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. He started out the year coming off the bench, but has since moved into the starting lineup. He’s been averaging 14.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.3 bpg, and is an extremely versatile defender. He should be a good fit alongside Marc Gasol and Mike Conley as the Grizzlies look to make a playoff push this year.
Rookie of the Year favorites Collin Sexton and Kevin Knox have been off to decent starts to the season, with Sexton averaging 11 ppg and Knox averaging 9 ppg before missing games due to injury. Both should be looking to bounce back as they eventually get more minutes during the regular season. Now, let’s get to the Top 3 candidates as of right now.
The number one overall pick in this year’s draft has started off this season strong. Ayton has fit in well with Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns, averaging 17.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 4.0 apg and 0.8 bpg while shooting 69.6% from the field and an impressive 84.6% from the charity stripe. While his defense leaves room for improvement, he has the potential to be one of the best players in this league for a very long time.
Rookie Trae Young was one of the most hyped up college players coming into this year, and is considered to be a high-risk, high-reward player. The Hawks decided to take the risk of an undersized, erratic guard in hopes of drafting a great shooter and playmaker. So far, he has been averaging a rookie-leading 19.8 ppg and 6.8 apg, along with 3.4 rpg on a below average 39/32/78 shooting splits. He’s already scored 35 points against the Cavs, and has incredible potential as a gifted scorer and playmaker as he becomes the Hawks’ franchise player.
The last rookie we have here is the third overall pick, Luka Doncic of the Mavericks. Doncic was traded for Young and a draft pick on draft night, so this should be a fun rivalry for years to come. This Euroleague sensation was considered to be one of the most NBA-ready prospects of all-time, and has been showing it so far. He’s been averaging 19.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 3.8 apg on 43.6% FG, 35% 3PT and 68% FT. He’s an excellent playmaker and offensive player, despite the low assist totals and the higher turnover rate, with 3.4 topg. Him and Dennis Smith Jr. should make the Dallas Mavericks a very exciting team to watch with their dynamic backcourt.
There you have it! The ROTY Front-Runners have so far been the 2018 Draft’s Top 5 picks! Now we have left names off such as the Timberwolves’ Josh Okogie, the Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Hornets’ Miles Bridges and the Knicks’ Allonzo Trier, but those 5 rookies have proven themselves worthy of being selected so high.
Tune in next time for the DPOY front-runners so far!