Rookie of the Year Candidates
*Photo via USA Today
The NBA is full of young talent waiting to break out into superstardom, and this years' rookies are getting their first crack at achieving that goal. Let's look at the various candidates for Rookie of The Year this season.
First up, in no particular order, is Elfrid Payton of the Orlando Magic. Payton is having a pretty solid rookie year, as the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft. He's averaging 8.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game. Not that impressive, but he's had some great individual games. On March 18, he recorded his first ever triple double, posting incredible numbers of 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Two days later, he had another triple double putting up 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists; becoming the first rookie since Antoine Walker in 1997 to do so. He was the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January. Elfrid Payton is a great player and has a bright future with the Orlando Magic.
Another rookie that's playing at a high level is the 2014 number one overall pick, Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wiggins is averaging 15.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Wiggins, like most rookies, got off to a slow start, struggling the first month of the season. But since December 23, he's averaging 18.7 points per game, according to rollingstone.com. He's playing at a high level, and his defense has improved as well. He's had some great games as well, particularly against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he scored 33 points against them in January. He seems to be the best rookie in the West, as he won every Rookie of the Month award for the Western Conference so far. Wiggins has tremendous upside and could very well win Rookie of the Year.
Another rookie that is playing well and is actually on a playoff team, is Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic was drafted and traded to the Chicago Bulls in 2011, but since he was playing overseas, did not suit up until this year. At 6'10, Mirotic is a versatile forward, who can knock down the three and play in the paint. He's averaging 9.7 points and 5 rebounds, and is the only rookie in this article whose team is in the playoffs. He scored 28 points and grabbed 8 rebounds on March 23, and is proving to be a key piece for the Chicago Bulls. He was the Rookie of the Month in the Eastern Conference for the month of December, and can very well win it again this month as he is averaging 20.8 points per game and 8.2 rebounds. Nikola may not win Rookie of the Year, but he will definitely help the Chicago Bulls advance in the playoffs.
The final rookie deserving Rookie of the Year consideration is Philadelphia 76ers, power forward, Nerlens Noel. Noel, drafted in 2013, is having a good season after sitting out the 2013-2014 seasons with an injury. Noel is putting up pretty good numbers as he is averaging 9.5 ppg and 7.9 rpg. Noel is the best defensive rookie at his position. He is in the top 10 in the NBA in steals and top 5 in blocked shots. He's first in both categories among rookies as well as rebounds. According to hoopshabit.com, Nerlens is avg. 12.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game since the All Star break. The 76ers have a potential All Star in Noel.
These are some of the greatest rookies this year, but only one can win Rookie of the Year and as the season comes to an end, the race is only getting closer.