There’s no soft way to put it, but the race for Rookie of the Year for the 2016-2017 NBA season was as underwhelming as the Dunk Contest, with no rookie truly shining at the level of Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Davis in their respective rookie seasons. Rookies such as Brandon Ingram, who was expected to make a huge impact in his first season with the LA Lakers, as underperformed to a horrible extent, to a point where a 16 point game was considered a turning point in the forward’s career, while his teammate D’Angelo Russell put up 40 points against the Cavaliers. This has been the trend for the majority of rookies this season, and even some of the players on the top nominees list don’t truly deserve to be there. With that being said, though, let’s get into it!
3. Buddy Hield
I really like Buddy Hield, I liked him coming into the draft at the beginning of the season, and had really hoped he would go to a team where he could be used to his full potential, but no, he gets drafted to the Pelicans. While in a Pelicans uniform, Buddy averaged 8 PPG, confirming my suspicions that he would be misused, and destroying my dreams of him turning into a future star. But then a wonderful thing happened – Boogie Cousins gets traded to the Pelicans in a 3-player package which included Buddy Hield, so he could finally use his talents on a team that are now lacking a scorer, and since the trade, he’s improved dramatically as he fits in well to a team that have actually been playing some pretty good basketball since trading their superstar away. Since the trade, Buddy has averaged 17 PPG on 48% shooting, which is actually great for a rookie scoring guard. I, for one, am so happy that Buddy got traded, as now we can finally see his true potential as a scoring guard, and, if he can improve his defensive rating, Hield can definitely be an all-star in future years. In other years, however, I understand that Buddy wouldn’t get into the top 3 for ROTY, but I guess he should consider himself lucky to be drafted into such an awfully boring group of players. In any case though, I truly believe that Buddy has a very high ceiling, and I’m praying that whatever god may exist out there, that he’ll transform into a star scorer. Who would’ve thought being involved in a trade for DeMarcus Cousins would release this kid’s potential? Anyway, congratulations to Buddy for cracking the 3rd spot on the ROTY list!
2. Malcolm Brogdon
For those of you who never heard of Malcolm Brogdon, remember that rookie who dunked on LeBron and Kyrie in the same game? Yeah, that was Malcolm Brogdon. I genuinely feel that Brogdon deserves to be a Rookie of the Year, and while he just missed out this season for me, I’m sure there’s plenty of people, probably Bucks fans, who will have him down as their number one. Since the start of 2017, when Brogdon began to receive decent minutes as a guard, he’s brought his points per game up by 2, is shooting 88% from the foul line, and averages 4 APG, so he’s pretty all-rounded in terms of what he does on the court. Nobody had really heard of Brogdon until he put both LeBron and Kyrie on a poster, and since then, he’s been popping up all the time as a true contender for the ROTY award. In March, he brought his FT% up to an incredible 95%, an extremely rare achievement for a rookie. He’s also become more confident as a shooter, averaging a couple of more attempts per game alongside my MIP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Brogdon is, as well as Antetokounmpo, one of the bright spots for the Milwaukee Bucks, and plays better defense than most of the rookies this year. His 10 PPG average is sure to improve as he continues to grow as a player and receive more minutes for the Bucks and, potentially, develop into a star, which could be a scary development when paired with Giannis. And hey, if you dunk on two of the best players in the league in your rookie season, you’re obviously destined for great things in the NBA, right? In any case, congratulations to Malcolm Brogdon on placing 2nd in my ROTY list.
1. Joel Embiid
It’s a testament to the performances of the rest of the rookies in the 2016-2017 season when a rookie who was injured back in February, is still leading the way for Rookie of the Year now in April. A torn meniscus coming at the end of the February meant more surgery for ‘The Process,’ who was drafted back in 2014 but only played his debut game in the NBA this season. Before the injury, Embiid had a truly outstanding season on a truly awful 76ers team, and was the team’s one bright spot considering Ben Simmons’ injury which put him out for the season before he even got to play. Despite only playing 25 minutes per game due to injury concerns and minute restrictions, Embiid averaged 20 PPG, combined with 8 RPG, to lead the way for Rookie of the Year, and, to be quite honest, just throw every other rookie out of his path as he steamrolled to stardom in his first few games. While it took the rest of the season’s newbies a couple of months to settle into the NBA, Embiid took off almost immediately, and was relied on early on by the Sixers to play well down the stretch of close games, despite being a rookie. Embiid is a perfect example of what the league is looking for in centres, with the NBA’s recent transition to a shooting league, as the Sixers big man has the ability to stretch out to the 3-point line in order to knock some down, and is quite capable, with a respectable 3PT% of 37%. As well as that, The Process plays outstanding defense, and is in a class of his in that respect, averaging an incredible 2.5 BPG in his rookie season, putting him miles ahead of his rookies peers in every aspect of the game. While this injury strikes yet another concern for Sixers fans, as they’ve become accustomed to big injuries from the rookie star, there’s no doubt in my mind that, combined with the passing ability of likely ROTY next season, Ben Simmons, Embiid and the Sixers have an extremely high chance to make the playoffs, especially if they make some more magic in the draft like they have been the last few years, only this time, hopefully without the injuries they’ve faced from their rookies. To conclude this post, TheBloggingLeprechaun’s Rookie of the Year award goes to 76ers centre Joel Embiid!
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