Aug. 22, 2016
Way Too Early NBA Predictions: Rookie of the Year
Last season, we saw the emergence of one of the strongest first overall picks in a while. Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves showed the league that he deserved the number one selection by averaging 18.3 points per game, 10.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.7 blocks while playing in all 82 games in his first season in the association. The next Tim Duncan? Maybe, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The real question is, who's the next rookie of the year?
3: Joel Embiid
Wait what?! Yes, Joel Embiid is technically beginning his rookie season next year even though he was drafted 2 summers ago. The 76ers are now loaded with young talent up front. Joel Embiid, a 3rd overall pick, Nerlens Noel, a 6th overall pick who Philly wants to trade, Jahlil Okafor, the 2nd overall pick last season who was in the running for rookie of the year, and now Ben Simmons, a college power forward that will likely assume the role of point forward next season for the 76ers. If I'm Philly, I slide Okafor to the power forward position and let Embiid become the starter next season at center. Embiid was mainly drafted so high for his defensive abilities, but he could be a major aerial threat as well. He's been putting in the work this offseason, and I truly believe that if he gets played enough, he could be in the running for ROY.
2: Kris Dunn
If you didn't get a chance to watch this kid work in the Summer League, you missed out. I believe the Wolves got a complete steal at number five with Kris Dunn. Minnesota is doing their best to dump Ricky Rubio, but even if they don't and Dunn comes off the bench, he would be a deadly 6th man. With the young guys Tim Thibodeau has to work with up there in Minneapolis, the Wolves could honestly be the next super team, especially if Dunn emerges into what I believe he can. With Wiggins averaging 20+, and Towns putting up 18 and 10, I think Dunn could put up a double-double nearly every night somewhere in the 15 and 10 range, the 10 obviously coming from assists, not rebounds. He's also an incredible defender, something that is often over-looked in ROY candidates. Dunn could be that last piece that the Wolves needed to thrust themselves into the Western playoff picture.
1: Ben Simmons
Two 76ers on one GOOD list? No way, right? Well, Ben Simmons is in a perfect position to run away with this rookie of the year award. He's been deemed the next LeBron James for the past 5 years, but he plays a bit more like a Magic Johnson. The kid is a triple-double threat at any level of basketball, and now, running the show in Philly, he'll be the main attraction for years to come. He has a lot to live up to and he still needs has room to grow when it comes to his jump shot, but the kid is going to be special. Will he put Philly in the playoff hunt next year? No, but he puts them in the right direction for sure. With a "Big 3" of Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Nerlens Noel on the outside looking in, Philly is finally seeing the process coming to fruition.