- Will top pick Deandre Ayton take home Rookie of the Year?
- Luka Doncic could transfer his EuroLeague success immediately to the NBA
- Is there a rookie gem lurking like Donovan Mitchell last year?
The only thing certain about the NBA Draft is that there’s no certainty how things will play out.
Prospective teams can have the best scouts, watch the most film, talk to the most in-the-know people, and own the most lucky charms on the planet and still land on a bust.
Do that enough times in the lottery, and you set your franchise back years. I’m looking at you, SacTo. And don’t think you can hide either, Orlando. And where do you think you’re going, Knicks?
Any one of these franchises could have accelerated their respective rebuilds last year, when they and a dozen other teams passed on Donovan Mitchell, who fell into the Jazz’s lap at number 13.
If not for a Ben Simmons injury that stalled his debut season back to this year, Mitchell would be a ROTY lock, and it wouldn’t be close – even factoring in a field with mega-talent Jayson Tatum and ready-now rookies like Dennis Smith Jr., Lauri Markkanen, OG Annunoby, and Kyle Kuzma.
And we’re not even considering the guys who can still potentially be great, like Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, De’Aron Fox and (don’t laugh) first overall pick Markelle Fultz.
So with that in mind, let’s take an early stab at what rookie could claim the coveted NBA Rookie of the Year honours, and get their franchise headed down the path out of the lottery.
Odds to Win NBA Rookie of the Year
|Luka Doncic||Dallas Mavericks||7/3|
|Deandre Ayton||Phoenix Suns||3/1|
|Trae Young||Atlanta Hawks||22/3|
|Marvin Bagley III||Sacramento Kings||9/1|
|Michael Porter Jr.||Denver Nuggets||19/1|
|Kevin Knox||New York Knicks||24/1|
|Collin Sexton||Cleveland Cavaliers||97/3|
|Mikal Bridges||Phoenix Suns||99/1|
|Mo Bamba||Orlando Magic||99/1|
Bovada’s early odds list Ayton as the favorite, but there’s not exactly a direct correlation to the top pick and ROTY. Since the 1998-99 season (not including this past year, as we await the winner), there have been just six no. 1’s to take home the trophy: Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, LeBron James, and Elton Brand.
That’s not to say that Ayton won’t be great or won’t be an immediate contributor – the dude poured in 20 and 11 in his one year at Arizona, while also showing an ability to extend his range to beyond the arc (shot 34.2%) – I just feel there’s a potential generational superstar on the board.
Doncic’s body of work as he just turned 19 is overwhelmingly dominant, which is why it’s stunning that:
a) He wasn’t the first pick
b) Any team that drafted him was eager to deal him
He’s been doing it as a kid in what is considered the next best league in the world next to the NBA, and owning it. He scored 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game for Real Madrid in the EuroLeague, taking home league MVP, leading his team to the title, and winning Final Four MVP in the process. He’s been compared as a cross between Hedo Turkoglu and Toni Kukoc, only they didn’t find that much success at such a young age, and, while they were smart and sometimes flashy players, neither possessed Doncic’s transcendent vision and basketball IQ.
There’s not exactly a direct correlation to being the top pick and being Rookie of the Year. Since the 1998-99 season, there have been just six no. 1’s to take home the trophy.
Trae Young moves up my board because his shooting flair – particularly from long distance – is pleasing to basketball fans, who’ve grown ultra-appreciative of the long ball in the Steph Curry era. If Young displays that ability from the beginning (and he’ll get every chance to in Atlanta), he could be on the radar. While Bagley definitely has the talent and will put up points, it’s hard to see him making an impact on a Kings franchise with a glut of big bodies, but more importantly, no direction or vision of what they want to be.
When we talk the rest of the field, it doesn’t look like there’s another Mitchell in the group, but if you are looking for some long shots, “the field” to me, comes down to these studs:
- Donte DiVincenzo (Bucks) – wildly brash scorer that can contribute immediately
- Lonnie Walker (Spurs) – the Spurs take their time developing players, but could speed up the pace with a possible Kawhi exit
- Zhaire Smith (76ers) – an athletic freak that could make a big impact in Philly
Over/Under points per game
- Marvin Bagley III (Kings): 17.5
- DeAndre Ayton (Suns): 15.0
- Luka Doncic (Mavericks): 14.5
Over/Under rebounds per game
- DeAndre Ayton (Suns): 9.5
- Marvin Bagley III (Kings): 8.5
- Mohamed Bamba (Magic): 5.5
Over/Under assists per game
- Luka Doncic (Mavericks): 6.8
- Trae Young (Hawks): 4.9
- Collin Sexton (Cavaliers): 4.5
Over/Under blocks per game
- Mohamed Bamba (Magic): 2.2
- DeAndre Ayton (Suns): 1.5
- Robert Williams (Celtics): 1.0
Over/Under 3pt shooting percentage, season
- Trae Young (Hawks): 38.5%
- Luka Doncic (Mavericks): 33%
- Mikal Bridges (Suns): 32.5%
Over/Under field goal shooting percentage, season
- DeAndre Ayton (Suns): 56%
- Marvin Bagley III (Kings): 49.9%
- Michael Porter Jr (Nuggets): 44.5%