In order to be a true Rookie of the Year candidate, you need to be able to accumulate the kind of ‘sexy’ stats like points and rebounds. It also helps if your team improves by double-digit wins.
I don’t think defense-first players can truly win a rookie award, since voters are mostly just looking at the ‘back of the basketball card’ stats.
Will one of the Philadelphia Sixers win the Rookie of the Year award with Ben Simmons due to miss an extended amount of time?
Buddy Hield – New Orleans Pelicans – 7/2
Hield was a late-bloomer at Oklahoma and wasn’t a lights-out shooter the first time he stepped foot on campus. I think he will be the same kind of player in the NBA. I don’t see him winning the Rookie of the Year award, but could be an All-Star a few years into his career. I think his shooting will be streaky his rookie year.
Kris Dunn – Minnesota Timberwolves – 4/1
Dunn is a guy who might be my favorite to win Rookie of the Year. People think he should start at point guard immediately over incumbent Ricky Rubio. He’s a better shooter and could get some nice open looks with Andrew Wiggins on the wing and Karl-Anthony Towns in the paint.
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers – 5/1
Embiid is coming off a career-threatening foot injury and also had back issues in college. I doubt we will see Embiid play in many back-to-back games with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor sharing time in the front-court. The Sixers don’t need to rush Embiid and I don’t expect a huge year from him out of the gate.
Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers – 5/1
At the minimum, Simmons will miss three months of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a Jones fracture of a metatarsal on his right foot. There’s a quiet whisper that his agent may not want him to play at all since Jones fractures are slow to heal. If he does come back by February and no rookie has really done well, I guess it is conceivable he could still win ROY award, but I don’t think he will play much this season.
Brandon Ingram – Los Angeles Lakers – 11/2
Ingram has a chance to be ‘the guy’ in Los Angeles after his teammates have all but labeled D’Angelo Russell a snitch. Ingram needs to gain about 30+ pounds to his thin frame to just be able to survive the long NBA season. I think he needs even more weight to be the kind of player the Lakers need him to be long-term. I don’t see him as a Rookie of the Year candidate.
Dario Saric – Philadelphia 76ers – 16/1
Saric is an interesting candidate. He was a draft & stash player during ‘The Process’. He can play ‘point forward’ and if Simmons was healthy, Saric wouldn’t be used much in that role. He could really take advantage of the playing time while SImmons is out and win the Rookie of the Year.
Thon Maker – Milwaukee Bucks – 20/1
Maker seemed to have come out of nowhere the year before the NBA Draft and he is still pretty much a mystery. Maker was a stud in Summer League, but he hasn’t put up very good numbers this preseason. He is getting double-digit minutes, but he still appears to be getting his footing in the NBA. His rookie year may just be a long transition period.
Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets – 20/1
If Gary Harris struggles with injuries this season, Murray will benefit from the extra playing time. Murray is a great shooter, so he could put up more points than a handful of players higher on this list, but I don’t think he’s more than just an outside darkhorse for the award.
Denzel Valentine – Chicago Bulls – 20/1
Valentine is a good overall player, but he’s already dealing with a nagging ankle injury. I don’t think he excels in the kind of cumulative stats that could win him the ROY award.
Wade Baldwin IV – Memphis Grizzlies – 28/1
Baldwin is a talented player, but Memphis has a backcourt logjam. It would be hard for Baldwin to be considered for a Rookie of the Year award unless Mike Conley goes down with a major injury.
Marquese Chriss – Phoenix Suns – 28/1
Chriss might be my favorite long shot to win Rookie of the Year. The Suns don’t have a stacked frontcourt, so Chriss has succeeded this preseason. Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe are sure to feed him the ball. The more I write about him, the more I think he has a shot.
Kay Felder – Cleveland Cavaliers – 50/1
Felder is fun to watch and he will get a lot of buzz due to more of a national audience watching his games (…because LeBron). Felder is already my pick to win the 2017 NBA Slam Dunk competition. I think he is barely on the radar for Rookie of the Year.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.