ROUNDTABLE: Rookie of the Year
Eight of OTG's finest give you their pick for Rookie of the Year
Dennis Smith Jr.
Even if he hadn’t been truly magnificent in summer league, I simply love his fit and opportunity in Dallas. He’s an attacking downhill guard who can finish near the rim and distribute from the paint. Nerlens Noel is an elite rim runner and lob finisher, and he and Smith will offer a nuclear athletic pick and roll pairing. Noel ranked in the 83rd percentile in roll man offensive efficiency last season, per Synergy Sports.
The Mavs were 5th in three pointers per game last season and there isn’t a better floor spacing big than Dirk Nowitzki. Throw in dangerous floor spacers like Wes Matthews, Harrison Barnes, and Seth Curry, and Smith should rack up plenty of drive and kick assists. With all of the added spacing, Smith can use his supreme burst to get to the cup at will.
Smith will undoubtedly land in Carlisle’s doghouse on a few occasions, but the Mavs know that Devin Harris and JJ Barea are nothing more than role players at this point. Carlisle has done a remarkable job cobbling together passable point guard play since Jason Kidd departed. But Smith is a unique foundational piece, and the Dallas officials haven’t been bashful about inflating expectations for their rookie guard. Smith has all of the ingredients for a masterful rookie season.
Lonzo was made-in-Los Angeles, made-for-Los Angeles. He’s got a huge opportunity to reignite the city of angels. For one, Lonzo loves to pass, and he’s being mentored by one of the best point guards ever in Magic Johnson. Secondly, Lonzo is GREAT at passing, and it’s not only because he’s got the skill to collect assists numbers. He truly believes in the winning culture in making other teammates better, and knows he is the floor general that will generate his team’s offense. Lastly, Lonzo isn’t afraid of the pressure and the entire Laker organization has groomed the kid to be the next mega star. The Lakers found the perfect prototypical point guard to try and reinvent Show Time. Magic has emphasized that the Lakers will run a fast-paced offense, which Lonzo can do. Ball will have plenty of hungry scorers to feed, with guys like Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram. He will struggle at times with turnovers and the league will test if his body and jump shot are ready for the NBA. However, the dazzle and the Laker’s improvement in their win total will be enough for him to win ROY honors. My projection on Lonzo Ball: 14.8 PPG 4.9 RPG 8.7 APG 1.4 STL 0.6 BLK 42% FG 70% FT 3.1 TO
I feel Ben just has too great of situation to not win this year. He’ll be surrounded by an elite talent in Embiid to take pressure off him, high level shooters in Fultz, Redick and Covington and defenders in Covington and Embiid to make up for his mistakes on that end of the floor. Also, Ben has been a part of the league for the year and has a better understanding of how to be a pro. Finally, I think Ben will experience a year with noticeably good counting stats on a good team. He will be a starter receiving high minutes loads and will have the ball in his hands more than any other player on the team. Ben will be doing this for a team that will be competing for a playoff spot, something most other rookies will not have the opportunity to do.
Tatum, who looked incredible in summer league, is a definite threat to win the ROY title based on a couple things. Playing alongside Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward paired with what should be an exponential year of growth for Jaylen Brown, Tatum is in a position to develop his game at his own pace. He won’t be the first, second, or even third scoring option but Tatum will get plenty of looks at the rim due to his size and strength alone. The pressure that may be on some of the other rookies this year to immediately produce (i.e. Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Markelle Fultz), will not be a factor for Tatum with the supporting class around him. The Celtics will look at him to naturally progress without having to press or stress, basically let the game come to him, leading to a solid campaign in his first year in the Association. He has a chance to be effective and productive without having to mentally extend himself with a workload he can handle and thrive with all whilst turning heads with his excellent athleticism.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith and Josh Jackson all have a real chance of winning rookie of the year. Also, don’t forget about last year's number one pick Ben Simmons.
This year with so much talent it’s hard to pick. It will come down to more than talent. Opportunity, system, coaching, and teammates will all play a factor. The team's record is also a factor. Considering all of that, I am picking Dennis Smith, point guard for the Dallas Mavericks.
Smith fell to ninth in the draft due to an ACL injury and playing on a weak NC State team last year. When healthy, this guy is explosive as it gets. He set the combine record, with a 48-inch vertical. At 6’3 195, Smith can easily get to the rim and finish in traffic. Combine that with a sweet jumper, a good handle, and solid vision, and you have a playmaker for years to come.
More importantly, he will get the keys to the car in Dallas. He is already penciled in as the starting point guard, and for a team desperate for playmaking, Smith will inject new life. Expect him to play heavy minutes, as the Mavs are building for the future. Head coach Rick Carlisle will let him play through his mistakes, and his system should fit Smith perfectly.
In the summer league in just 25 minutes a game, Smith averaged 17 points, on 45% shooting, with 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. Now imagine those numbers with better teammates and more minutes. Granted the competition will be better, but Smith will be ready. Smith has the combination of talent, good coaching, perfect system and opportunity. That’s why my money is on Smith. This kid can average 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Don’t forget he will also have some memorable dunks and plays and that will surely impact voters.
I feel that the third pick Jayson Tatum has the best chance to win the Rookie of the Year award because he will be playing for a team that is actually playing for a championship and he stands to be a big part of the rotation. The Celtics kept Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown from last year’s team meaning there are no veterans set up in the rotation that will take away his opportunities. Tatum is going to get an opportunity to play right away. The Celtics have an equal opportunity offense and Tatum’s scoring ability should allow him to be a good 6th man for the Celtics. He will benefit from playing with passers like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward and at the same time enjoy the attention that is given to Kyrie Irving, giving him a chance to put up some numbers. In addition to that, any player that is getting Paul Pierce comparisons is bound to score the ball and scoring seems to be what helps you win Rookie of the Year. Add that to the fact that he will play minutes for a contending team and the award should be his.
Dennis Smith Jr.
The Rookie of the Year award generally goes to the player who plays a heap of games in his first season while filling up the box score. You also take into account how much impact they are likely to have on their new team too. Taking all that into account I’m NOT picking Lonzo Ball to win the award (come at me Lavar) but instead Mavs point guard, Dennis Smith Jr. Both players are likely to put up nice numbers in their first season and have a profound impact running their teams at the point. The reason I go with Smith is purely due to the fact he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He was overlooked by plenty of teams in the draft (see the Knicks) so he’s got a point to prove. The comparison I automatically think of when comparing the Mavs rookie is that to Damian Lillard. Lillard had an outstanding first season leading him to the ROY in 2013 and he was also snubbed by plenty of teams after being taken sixth overall in the 2012 draft. Lillard put up some lofty stats in that season: 19 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.1 RPG, 38.6 MPG. Smith is unlikely to put up such numbers in a surprisingly deep Mavs backcourt but he’s definitely got the talent to have the same influence.
Albert Roman/ @Al_Roman87
Philadelphia 76ers fans will finally see “The Process” begin to take shape. During their rebuild, the Sixers have been missing a top caliber point guard, who can score in many different ways. Fultz averaged 23.2 PPG in his lone season in Washington. He is a capable scorer and will have so many options on offense with Joel Embid, Dario Saric, and last year’s number 1 pick Ben Simmons. If the number 1 overall pick in this year’s draft can remain healthy, as well as the entire team, they will be able to clinch their first playoff berth since the 2011-12 season. This is especially true due to the lack of competition in the Eastern Conference. Fultz also gets bonus points for being apart of one of the best nicknames in the league. Watch out for the F.E.D.S. This team will be extremely fun to watch…….if healthy!