Summer Predictions: 5 Players in Race for Rookie of the Year

2017 Las Vegas Summer League Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks
Ethan Miller/Getty Images 

 

To continue the Summer Predictions, I chose 5 players who have the highest chance for winning the Rookie of the Year.  I ranked them based on how well I thought they played in college and the summer league, but I gave a bit more importance to their performances in the summer.  I used their performances to evaluate how effective they will be in the NBA after figuring out their strengths and weaknesses.

Comment below if you happen to agree or disagree with the five players I chose, and tell me your top 5 players that you think might win the ROY.  Let’s check out the 5 players in race for Rookie of the Year:

P.S.-  I wrote another post about predicting 5 players to make their First All-Star Appearance for the 2017-18 season.  If interested, click here to read that blog post.

 


5.  Markelle Fultz

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AP Photo/Matt Slocum

 

Fultz is coming off an injury from the Las Vegas Summer League, after only getting to see 3 games from the young rookie.  However, he should be ready to go for the regular season, but he did not fail to disappoint, averaging 16.0 points, 2.3 assists, while shooting 40.9 percent from the field, and 37.5 percent beyond the arc.

The main reason why the No. 1 overall pick is only fifth in my predictions is mostly due to the fact that he will lose stats to his other teammates, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid.  Simmons is rumored bring up the ball alongside Fultz, which might make a decrease in Fultz’s shots and assists average.  The 76ers have not yet claimed who will be the primary ball handler, but either way, Simmons will steal some of his stats.  If Fultz plays off the ball, he possibly will get fewer shots due to playing with other options, such as J.J. Redick’s 3-point jumper, and Joel Embiid’s all-around scoring.

With the ball, Fultz has the ability to create his own offense by being able to make different variety of shots such as fade-aways, pull-ups, and step-backs.  His field goal percentage was not that high during the Summer League, but hopefully he can improve on that during the regular season.  As long as Fultz can figure out how to play with Ben Simmons, he will compete for the Rookie of the Year award.

 


4.  Jayson Tatum

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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 

Tatum is coming from an amazing display in the summer league averaging 18.2 points, and 8.8 rebounds.  What mostly stood out was his consistency, hitting double figures in points each game, and being able to create his own offense.  He showed no problems hitting any type of shot no matter where from 25 feet from the basket, nailing off-balanced fade-aways, pull-ups, etc.  As a 6’8″ wing player, he is very dominant in the glass, which allows him to get easy buckets off the transition in fast break.

With the Celtics adding Gordon Hayward in free agency, his minutes may be limited playing behind Hayward and Jaylen Brown in the rotation, but that should not stop him from playing at the same level.  Tatum may play out of position or come off the bench since Hayward will probably the starting small forward, which may not allow him to produce the best stats.  As long he finds ways to be effective, he should remain in the Rookie of the Year race.

 


3.  Ben Simmons

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Brett Le Blanc/Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

The last time we saw Simmons playing competitive basketball was a year ago in the Summer League, so it is hard to really predict how well he will play this season.  He underwent surgery after injuring his foot last summer, missing the entire 2016-17 season.  If he can still play at the same level that he was at before his injury, then we are in for a show this season.

The 6’10” Australian is rumored to play as a “point-forward” for the 76ers.  Before his injury, Simmons put on an amazing passing performance in the 2016 Summer League with his amazing court vision throwing fancy passes and finding the open teammate.  He can no doubt serve as a playmaker for the 76ers, but it is unclear how he will share the floor with Fultz.

With his 6’10” height, Simmons has a huge advantage against other wings and forward.  He will be able to easily get into the paint and drive to the rim, which is a large part of his game since he struggles from beyond the arc.

If Simmons remains healthy throughout the season, he should have a chance for the ROY award, and maybe even win it.

 


2.  Dennis Smith Jr.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

 

Dennis Smith Jr. has pretty high expectations coming into his rookie season, being voted as the winner of the Rookie of the Year by his fellow peers in the 2017 Class.  He was selected 9th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, and a few teams might be regretting passing him up in the draft in the future if he lives up to his assumptions.

In the Summer League, he impressed many of us with his amazing star talent.  He showed variety of ways to score, by either attacking to the paint and throwing down vicious slams, or shooting mid-range jumpers.  His shot is not that consistent, but has proven that once he finds his rhythm, he make any shot inside the 3-point line with a good percentage.

The Mavs always are looking to contend, so Dennis Smith Jr. may play under limited minutes if they are going to race for a spot in the playoffs, but he should still have a chance to pull in some decent stats and run for a chance at the Rookie of the Year hardware.

 


1.  Lonzo Ball

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Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

 

Ball has gained a lot of fame and enthusiasm over the past year due to his incredible basketball talent playing for UCLA, and because of his dad saying outspoken comments about himself and his younger sons.  Now, Lonzo has to live up to his hype and everyone’s expectations, and seems like he has been so far.

Despite a terrible debut game in the Summer League, he turned it out around to average 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, and 7.7 rebounds.  He ended up winning the MVP of the Summer League, and there was really no surprise to why he received it.  He produced the highest ever assist-per-game average in Summer League, as he showed some high-level playmaking talent.  He always found the open teammate by either having defenders guard him while attacking the basket which leaves others open, or setting up his teammates on the fast break after missed shots.  Ball tends to create a fast-tempo offense off of misses or makes, especially when he gets the rebound, as we saw him nail 70-foot passes to Kyle Kuzma this summer.

As a rookie, Ball will be getting a lot of opportunities playing for the Lakers.  They do not have any intentions to make the playoffs this year, so Ball can use this year to grow as a player while having the ball in his hands most of the time.  Plus, if he stays healthy and can play at the same level, he should be able to easily win this hardware in his first year.

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