Blogtable Archive

Blogtable: Who are your top three candidates for the Kia Rookie of the Year?

Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.

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Your top three candidates for Kia Rookie of the Year?

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Tas Melas: 1. Luka Doncic: Doncic should become only the second foreign-born, foreign-grown player to win the ROY Award (Pau Gasol in 2002). I mention that because the notion that “He played against men in Europe and, therefore, shouldn’t win” is off-base. Many great players have tried to do what Luka is doing (Manu Ginobili, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Arvydas Sabonis, etc) and come up short. 2. Trae Young: Growth, growth, growth. All kudos to Trae and Atlanta’s staff for getting him to his current level. The Hawks could definitely win the Draft day trade with Dallas for Young depending on how the Draft pick shakes out, but this award is Luka’s. 3. Deandre Ayton: Ayton’s solid season has been (rightfully) overshadowed, but he has gotten better defensively while staying extremely efficient offensively the entire season.

Shaun Powell: The leader is Luka Doncic, clearly the best and most consistent rookie since opening night, someone who was ready-made from the start and instantly became the Dallas Mavericks’ go-to guy. Trae Young is the runner-up — he started slowly and needed a few months to become a more efficient shooter (although his passing was solid right away for the Atlanta Hawks). Third is Marvin Bagley III. Even though he came off the bench virtually the entire season for the Sacramento Kings and averaged fewer minutes than Doncic and Young, his production was consistent given his playing time. He was also a double-double threat most nights.

John Schuhmann: 1. Luka Doncic: The No. 3 pick started strong and never let up. The Mavs turned their offense over to a rookie — Doncic has recorded the highest rookie usage rate (29.5 percent) in the 23 years for which we have play-by-play data — and have been the league’s seventh-most improved offensive team, having scored 3.1 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season. That says a lot. 2. Trae Young: The No. 5 pick is already one of the best pick-and-roll passers in the league. He has improved dramatically over the course over the last few months and in another season, he’d be the Rookie of the Year. The Hawks have seen the same offensive improvement (an increase of 3.1 points scored per 100 possessions) as the Mavs have. But Young had pretty rough stretch early in the season and he remains a serious liability on defense. 3. Deandre Ayton: The No. 1 pick is already a strong offensive player. He’s just the second rookie in the 23 seasons for which we have shot location data to shoot 70 percent or better on at least 300 shots in the restricted area. He leads all rookies in rebounding percentage by a pretty wide margin and he showed some defensive improvement as the season went on.

Sekou Smith: I’ve got Dallas wunderkind Luka Doncic holding onto a slight lead over Atlanta’s Trae Young for the top overall spot on my ballot. We’ve been marveling at Luka’s work for so long, he doesn’t really feel like a rookie anymore. Young has been so good down the stretch that it’s impossible to ignore his growth and development since his shaky start of the season. And it’s more than just his flashy play. He’s certainly been spectacular down the stretch this season, hitting game-winners and fueling upset wins over league powers. The future is bright for the Hawks with Young leading the way. It’s strange how little buzz he’s getting for the season he’s put together, but No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton is third on my ballot just ahead of Marvin Bagley III, whose had some of that same recent energy to his game for Sacramento.

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