Ranking the NBA Rookie of the Year Candidates

    The NBA Rookie of the Year race won’t be a repeat of last year when it was a brutal call between the trio of Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson

    September 20, 2018

    The NBA Rookie of the Year race won’t be a repeat of last year when it was a brutal call between the trio of Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum. But it should be interesting to see who emerges out of the gate as the NBA’s top rookie.

    As training camps set to open this week, we rank the top candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year.

    1) Marvin Bagley III, 6-11, 235, F, Sacramento Kings

    Bagley is an athletic forward who put up gaudy numbers last season as a freshman at Duke. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him compete for the ROY Award, since the Kings will likely want to develop him and feed him minutes. It’ll be interesting to see how much time he gets with veteran Zach Randolph and fellow rookie Harry Giles III up front. He also has a pass-first point guard in De’Aaron Fox, which will help.

    Drafted: No. 2
    Projected Numbers: 16 PPG, 8 RPG

    2) Deandre Ayton, 7-1, 250, C, Phoenix Suns

    The seven-footer who hails from the Bahamas was the easy No. 1 pick for the Suns, and he’ll get a chance to see extensive time immediately on a young, talented team that already has Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. Ayton is exceptionally talented, and he took a major step forward at Arizona in terms of playing hard on a consistent basis. Booker will be the go-to guy on the offensive end, but Ayton should be able to get points running the court, finishing around the rim, from mid-range and also on offensive putbacks. My only question is whether the Suns have a point guard who can make it easier for him to get easy looks.

    Drafted: No. 1
    Projected Numbers: 14 PPG, 9 RPG

    3) Luka Doncic, 6-6, 220, G, Dallas Mavericks

    He’s only 19 years old, but the versatile Slovenian has such a mature game that he should be able to make an immediate impact in the NBA. This is a kid who was the EuroLeague MVP and also the EuroLeague Final Four MVP and the Mavs drafted him with the hope that he can ultimately be the face of the franchise. The Mavs were led by Harrison Barnes last season, and rookie Dennis Smith Jr., averaged 15 points per contest.

    Drafted: No. 3 by Atlanta, traded to Dallas on draft night
    Projected Numbers: 13 PPG, 4 RPG, 4 APG

    4) Collin Sexton, 6-2, 185, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Sexton is a tremendous athlete and a big-time scorer who should have the ball in his hands plenty as the Cavs enter post-LeBron rebuilding mode. Sexton will need to work on his floor game and decision-making, but the bottom line is that Sexton should get force-fed minutes and put up numbers, especially if the Cavs struggle to win games. Sexton could even wind up as the team’s second-leading scorer behind Kevin Love.

    Drafted: No. 8
    Projected Numbers: 14 PPG, 4 APG

    5) Kevin Knox, 6-9, 210, F, New York Knicks

    The skilled forward out of Kentucky was a big-time producer in the summer league (21.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG), and should get plenty of playing time for a Knicks team that needs someone to become Kristaps Porzingis’ sidekick once Porzingis returns from the torn ACL he suffered last February. Knox has the size and ability to shoot it, and the Knicks are desperate for high-level guys who can be pieces to build around.

    Drafted: No. 9
    Projected Numbers: 13 PPG, 6.5 RPG

    6) Trae Young, 6-2, 180, PG, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks’ investment in Young was clear, not just when they traded for him on draft night, but when they dealt Dennis Schroder to make certain Young will be the guy and won’t be looking over his shoulder. Young will need time to develop physically and also learn what he can get away with on the court, but he has the court vision and deep range to be a factor in the league. It just may take some patience.

    Drafted: No. 5 (traded to Atlanta on draft night)
    Projected Numbers: 12 PPG, 4 APG

    7) Jaren Jackson Jr., 6-11, 245, PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Jackson likely won’t put up eye-popping offensive numbers, but he’s a safe pick for solid production as a rookie. He’ll get to learn from veteran big man Marc Gasol, and will have a pass-first point guard in Mike Conley to make his life easier.

    Drafted: No. 4
    Projected Numbers: 10 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.5 BPG

    8) Wendell Carter Jr., 6-10, 250, PF/C, Chicago Bulls

    If not for Bagley, Carter would have gotten more touches and more notoriety a year ago. Carter is extremely skilled and versatile, especially for his size. He can score in the paint and also step out and make shots from the perimeter. He’s also a big who can pass the ball, so he’ll find a way on the court plenty, especially for an offensive-minded coach like Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls are young with guys like Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Bobby Portis and the addition of Jabari Parker. Carter will definitely fill a role up front, but Chicago has a bunch of young talent.

    Drafted: No. 7
    Projected Numbers: 10 PPG, 6 RPG

    9) Aaron Holiday, 6-1, 185, G, Indiana Pacers

    Holiday has the bloodlines with two older brothers already in the NBA. He played four years in college, and can shoot, distribute and defend. The competition for the point guard spot in Indiana is hardly overwhelming, with another ex-UCLA point guard in Darren Collison and also Cory Joseph. Holiday should get some playing time right away.

    Drafted: No. 2
    Projected Numbers: 9 PPG, 4 APG

    10) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 6-6, 180, PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    He’s long and can defend, so that’ll help Gilgeous-Alexander get on the court. The Clippers have a nice veteran in Milos Teodosic, but the hope is that Gilgeous-Alexander can improve his perimeter shot and become the Clippers’ point guard.

    Drafted: No. 11
    Projected Numbers: 8 PPG, 4 APG


    Michael Porter Jr., 6-10, 215, F, Denver Nuggets

    Porter probably would have been the second overall pick in the NBA Draft if he didn’t have to sit out nearly all of his freshman season at Missouri due to back surgery. Porter had another procedure over the offseason, and my guess is it will take time for him to adjust. But if he gets back to 100 percent, Porter is a multi-dimensional forward who has the length and ability to score in a variety of ways. The pick was well worth the risk for a small-market team like the Nuggets.

    Draft: No. 14
    Projected Numbers: 8 PPG, 4 RPG

    Harry Giles III, 6-10, 240, PF-C, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings drafted Giles with the 20th pick in 2017, and opted to hold him out all of last season in an effort to get him back to 100 percent – both physically and mentally. Giles was considered the best player in his age group prior to a trio of knee injuries. He’s a hard-playing, athletic big man who projected to go number one overall, and if he can get back close to what he once was, Giles will be a significant factor for the Kings.

    Drafted: No. 20 in 2017
    Projected Numbers: 7 PPG, 4 RPG


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