FV Rankings: Preseason NBA Rookie of the Year Rankings
If the NBA’s craziest offseason in recent memory wasn’t enough to get you excited for the upcoming season, then what is to be one of the most exhilarating Rookie of the Year races ever might have you jumping out of your seat.
The 2017 draft class was one of the most loaded rookie classes in league history. While some rooks will show they belong among the association’s best from the first whistle, others will blossom with time and opportunity.
Before the season tips off, here’s a look at which fresh faces have the best chance to take home the ROTY crown and join a prestigious group of all-time greats.
5. Josh Jackson SF Phoenix Suns
The number four overall pick out of Kansas has game-breaking potential, and I truly believe that he’ll be the best player to come out of this rookie class in five years. With that said, he’s by no means close to being a finished product. Jackson has the athleticism and defensive IQ to keep up with even the best of NBA scorers, but his shot and offensive arsenal leave much to be desired at this point. He’ll have some good games this year. He’ll also have some really bad ones. Though he’ll have the minutes to do so, I’d be surprised if he threatened our top contenders for ROTY.
4. Markelle Fultz PG Philadephia 76ers
Fultz was clearly the best player in college basketball this past year and he earned the right to be the number one overall pick. However, ROTY doesn’t always go to the best player. More times than not, the award is reserved for the guy whose stat line looks best on paper. Circumstance, not talent will hinder the Philly point guard from taking home the hardware. The man can get buckets, drop dimes and break down the defense. Only problem is, there are just too many hands commanding touches on the Sixers this season for Fultz to have a fighting chance.
3. Ben Simmons PF Philadelphia 76ers
Last year’s top pick Ben Simmons missed his entire freshman campaign with a fracture in his right foot. This season, he’s healthy, stronger, and reportedly two inches taller. Although I expect him to impress us with his rare passing ability and surprising handles for a man of his size, I don’t see him coming out on top of this year’s rookie race. Like Fultz, Simmons’ shortcomings will be a result of his situation. Despite his off the charts potential, with Embiid, Reddick and Fultz to share the rock with, the volume necessary to win ROTY just won’t be there.
2. Lonzo Ball PG Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball is a playmaker in the purest sense. He can thread the needle on any pass regardless of the coverage. He’s been compared to Jason Kidd, and the praise is warranted. Critics of his game cite his terrible shooting mechanics, lack of explosiveness and seeming unwillingness to take over a game as his downfalls. May I remind those critics that Shawn Marion, Tim Duncan and yes, Jason Kidd each had similar flaws. Will Ball be as good as the aforementioned players? Only time will tell. What is clear is that he has the tools and IQ to make an impact right away and challenge for ROTY.
1. Dennis Smith Jr. PG Dallas Mavericks
This may come as surprise especially since Smith was taken ninth, but don’t sleep on him proving draft doubters wrong and winning ROTY. Smith has next level athleticism, an advanced array of scoring moves and has landed in the best position of all our picks to put up the big numbers that award voters love. Coming out of college, basketball experts harped on the point guard for his bad attitude and poor leadership. Despite those complaints, Smith will have plenty of time to learn how to become a leader from one of the league’s legends, Dirk Nowitzki. Watch out NBA, Smith is coming.