Handel's Rookie Race: Volume 1
We all know about the MVP race, but what about the young guys just trying to make it in this league? They deserve a race too and at OTG we give them one; the Rookie Race. These are the top 5 NBA rookies so far this year. It may look like one candidate is running away with the award, but there is plenty of basketball to be played.
1. Joel Embiid (17.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 24.47 PER)
Embiid has been doing it all this season for the 76ers. He has been in the league for three years, but injuries caused him to delay his rookie debut until this season. You can tell that while he was injured those first two seasons, he wasn’t slacking behind closed doors. He has shown the ability to post up defenders, step out and knock down the mid-range and even the three-point jumper, and has showed us his stunning defensive skills. So far, he is running away with the ROY award and playing on an awful 76ers team helps him get minutes, but there is a lot of basketball left to play. One thing that will be very interesting is when rookie sensation, Ben Simmons, comes back from injury. Simmons was projected to win the ROY award, but he hasn’t played a game due to injury and isn’t expected to play until January. Will Embiid already have the award locked up by the then? Will another rookie step up? Will Simmons come in and play better than all of them? These questions can only be answered with time, but until then Embiid has been the best rookie thus far.
2.Jaylen Brown (7.6 ppg, 1.1 apg, 2.3 rpg, 13.31 PER)
After Embiid, the rest of the guys on the list don’t have star-like numbers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t having a good rookie season so far. Brown, drafted 3rd out of Cal, has shown exactly what the scouts thought he would; toughness, ability to defend, and playing within himself. When you watch him play you can tell he doesn’t try to do too much, he just plays Jaylen Brown’s game. This Celtics team has some pieces already in place, so Brown doesn’t get as much playing time as Embiid, but he makes the most of the time he gets.
3.Malcolm Brogdon (7.4 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.7 rpg, 14.21 PER)
Brogdon is the type player that’s numbers will never stand out to anyone, but everyone knows he does two things; plays hard and knows where to be on every play. He was always a tough player in college at the University of Virginia, and he has carried that style of play to the Milwaukee Bucks’. His most recent game he had 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Solid play from the wing and the Bucks, like the Sixers, can give their rookies more playing time than some of the other better teams in the NBA. Alongside the Greek Freak and Jabari Parker, Brogdon adds more length to an already long Bucks’ team.
4. Kris Dunn (4.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.3 rpg, 10.54 PER)
Dunn has benefited from an injury and that is something that you really don’t hear often. No, he isn’t injured, but the Minnesota T’Wolves starting point guard is. When Ricky Rubio went down with injury, Dunn has seen an increase in minutes and that is sure to speed up his potential. Probably the most underrated rookie in the group, Dunn has shooting and passing ability that is way beyond his young age. His stats are nowhere near crazy, but he has had a couple nice games, one against the Grizzlies where he posted 10, 6, and 4.
5.Domantas Sabonis (7.5 ppg,4.0 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 12.02 PER)
If you were to say the name Domantas Sabonis before the start of the season, nobody would even know who you were talking about. But, almost 10 games into the season and he is excelling on the Thunder. He has shown toughness and an ability to stretch the floor. I predict that over the course of this long NBA season that Sabonis will continue to leave his mark out West. The one thing that the Thunder need is shooting and if you can shoot the ball well, you will get more minutes. Sabonis is exactly what they need; a big man that can knock down jumpers. Be on the lookout for this young man to continue to get better.