Which NBA Rookies Will Have the Biggest Impact?

The 2017 NBA Draft was a noisy affair. The loudest news came from none other than LaVar Ball, who proclaimed his son Lonzo would take the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs in his first season. But the news that caused the biggest buzz in the Association came from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who acquired Jimmy Butler (and the no. 16 pick) from the Chicago Bulls for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the no. 7 pick in the draft.

While it’s relatively easy to declare that a three-time All-Star will make a major impact on his new team, it’s a little more difficult to foretell what kind of impact the 60 rookies drafted last night will have on their new squads.

Pundits diagnosed the 2017 draft as a class with a lot of upper-tier talent, especially at PG. But just so long as you aren’t a brand new basketball fan, you’re well aware that not all these projected stars will live up to their sky-high potential. There will be busts and there will be sleepers.

Which players are most likely to live up to their hype? Which ones will make the biggest impact in their first season? Will any ever reach the lofty heights of an All-NBA team? You can find hot-takes elsewhere, but we’ve got the odds right here.

Rookie Accolade Props

Odds to win 2017-18 Rookie of the Year

  • Ben Simmons, 76ers: 5/1
  • Lonzo Ball, Lakers: 6/1
  • Markelle Fultz, 76ers: 13/2
  • De’Aaron Fox, Kings: 8/1
  • Dennis Smith Jr, Mavericks: 8/1
  • Jonathan Isaac, Magic: 10/1
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics: 12/1
  • Josh Jackson, Suns: 12/1
  • FIELD: 9/1

Before we get carried away analyzing the 2017 class, let’s not forget about last year’s first-overall pick, Ben Simmons, whose rookie season was pushed back a year due to an injured foot. Even though he doesn’t possess any professional on-court experience over the 2017 class, he has been in a pro organization for a full calendar year, which could be invaluable.

With Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric already on the roster, the 76ers may not throw too much responsibility at this year’s first-overall pick, Markelle Fultz. And for once, there may be multiple mouths to feed in Philadelphia. This is why Fultz falls behind the man who went behind him in the draft, Lonzo Ball, who will be the catalyst of the Lakers offense right away.

The key to winning Rookie of the Year is not team success, but individual statistics. In fact, the last Rookie of the Year whose team actually made the playoffs was Derrick Rose with the Bulls in 2010. That’s why De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr have shorter odds than players who went before them in the draft. Both PGs will shoulder a heavy offensive load. Whereas Josh Jackson may have a great season for Phoenix, but he’s not going to be asked to be the savior of the Suns on the offensive end. Unfortunately, defensive efforts aren’t really considered.

In spite of being, arguably, the most gifted scorer in the draft, Jayson Tatum slips on this list because he’s joining an established roster and may have to fight for minutes on the wing. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Magic roster is extremely bare; Isaac will be asked to do a lot of the scoring.

Odds on first 2017 rookie to make an All-Star team

  • Ben Simmons, 76ers: 7/3
  • Markelle Fultz, 76ers: 5/2
  • Lonzo Ball, Lakers: 6/1
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics: 11/1
  • Jonathan Isaac, Magic: 12/1
  • FIELD: 7/1

Becoming an All-Star in the Eastern Conference is looking much easier than in the West. Jimmy Butler has already vacated his spot, and there is a strong chance Paul George and Paul Millsap have voided theirs, as well. Add in the potential for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving all possibly switching teams, and there will be plenty of open spots.

As a guard in the West, it’s going to be awfully tough to crack a lineup that already features Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Klay Thompson. The LA market will help Lonzo shine a little brighter, though.

Odds any 2017 draftees make an All-NBA team: 2/3

Rookie Props by Team

76ERS

Over/under PPG for Markelle Fultz: 17.5

Odds the 76ers make the playoffs in 2017-18: 4/5

LAKERS

Over/under PPG for Lonzo Ball: 13.5

Over/under APG for Lonzo Ball: 8.5

Odds the Lakers make the playoffs in 2017-18: 7/3

It’s very conceivable that the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers (sans Paul George), and Chicago Bulls fall out of the playoffs in the East. But I have a hard time making a compelling argument for more than one team falling out of the West, unless the Clippers blow it up, and the Timberwolves have cemented themselves as the primary hunter on the outside after the Butler trade. Not to mention, the New Orleans Pelicans will have a full season of Boogie and the Brow.

Celtics

Over/under PPG for Jayson Tatum: 12.5

Over/under minutes per game for Jayson Tatum: 27.5

Odds Jayson Tatum remains a Celtic all season: 1/2

If the Celtics are going to make a push for Paul George, Indiana will likely be asking for a package that includes Jayson Tatum in return.

Suns

Over/under PPG for Josh Jackson: 12.0

Over/under 3-point attempts per game by Josh Jackson: 3.0

A jump-shot and some range will be the first aspects of Jackson’s game the Phoenix Suns try to develop. But with their uptempo, run-and-gun style of play, the rookie may have to learn on the fly.

Kings

Over/under PPG for De’Aaron Fox: 14.5

Over/under transition points per game for De’Aaron Fox: 5.0

For comparison, LeBron James led the league last season with 6.8 points per game in transition. John Wall, the player Fox has been likened to, averaged 6.3 points per game in transition in 2016-17. Though I expect the Kings to ask Fox to push the tempo, the rookie will have solid options on the perimeter to use in transition.

Over/under games played for Harry Giles in rookie season: 45.5

Magic

Over/under PPG for Jonathan Isaac: 16.0

Bulls

Over/under 3-point percentage for Lauri Markkanen: 38.5-percent

No seven-footer has ever shot a better percentage from behind the arc in college as Markkanen (42.3-percent). But now serving as the only legitimate three-point threat on the Bulls roster, the Finn will likely have to deal with a little less space to get his shot off.

Hornets

Over/under 3-point percentage for Malik Monk: 39.0-percent

At Kentucky, Monk was assigned the duty of hoisting up a bad shot when the clock was winding down. This shows in his 39.7-percent from downtown, as he’s a better marksman than that. Now with the Hornets, Kemba Walker will assume the “bad-shot” responsibility, likely resulting in more efficient shot selection for the Kentucky product.

Heat

Over/under blocks per game for Bam Adebayo: 1.2

Scoring in the paint against Miami is going to be quite the feat.

Knicks

Odds Phil Jackson threatens to trade Frank Ntilikina: 1/1

You have a better chance of flopping a royal flush in Texas Hold’em than predicting what Phil Jackson is going to do next. And his partnership with James Dolan resembles a more literal viewing of Dumb and Dumber. Hopefully Carmelo Anthony can warn Ntilikina about what he’s walking into …

Perry

Perry is a regular contributor to MTS and a die-hard Broncos fan. Yes, he does remember the five Super Bowl losses, but likely remembers all your teams shortcomings, too. Consider yourself warned. Though his love for the Broncos may seem unconditional, Mr. Port never mixes his emotions with gambling.