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Rookie Survey: Okafor, not Towns, tops in this class

The 2015 Draft class tabs their favorites for Kia Rookie of the Year, best defender, funniest player and much more

POSTED: Aug 19, 2015 9:50 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann


Andrew Wiggins looks like he'll be a two-way NBA star, but overall, the 2014-15 rookie class was both snake-bitten and underwhelming. Enter the new class, which hopes to be healthier and more impactful than its predecessor.

The Minnesota Timberwolves tabbed Karl-Anthony Towns to join two other No. 1 picks on their roster, but there were more Rookie of the Year candidates later in the top 10 of the 2015 Draft. That's what the rookies themselves think, at least.

All-Access: 2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Go behind the scenes with this year's class at the 2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot.

At the annual Panini Rookie Photo Shoot at the Knicks' practice facility in Tarrytown, New York, earlier this month, 36 rookies answered eight questions about their class, as well as two more about what they're expecting and who they'll be playing this year. And the rooks told us that they liked No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor, both short- and long-term, more than Towns.

They also told us that Devin Booker can shoot, that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can defend, that there were a few good point guards in the '15 Draft, and that Kevin Durant has some fans among his newest opponents.

Below are the results from the seventh Rookie Survey. Note that players were not allowed to vote for themselves, college teammates or NBA teammates.

Categories: Rookie of the Year pick? | Best career? | Biggest draft steal? | Most athletic? | Best shooter? | Best defender? | Best playmaker? | Funniest rookie? | Toughest adjustment to NBA? | Favorite player in NBA?


2014-15 Rookie Survey

2013-14 Rookie Survey

2012-13 Rookie Survey

2010-11 Rookie Survey

2009-10 Rookie Survey

2007-08 Rookie Survey


Who will be the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year?

The Starters: Jahlil Okafor

The Sixers' Jahlil Okafor plays a game of 'Fact Checking With Jahlil' with the Starters crew.

1. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia -- 41.9 percent

2. Stanley Johnson, Detroit -- 19.4 percent

3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota -- 12.9 percent

T-4. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver -- 9.7 percent

D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers -- 9.7 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Trey Lyles, Utah

Last year: Jabari Parker -- 52.8 percent

Worth noting: The No. 3 pick got almost twice as many votes as Nos. 1 and 2 combined. Other rookies will get the opportunity to put up numbers, but no team needs its rookie's offense more than the Sixers. Scoring 10.0 points per 100 possessions fewer than the league average last season, they were the worst offensive team in the last 12 years.

Which rookie will have the best career?

First Impressions of Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor discusses his first games in a Sixers uniform while his coach and fans weigh in on the rookie's on-court performance.

1. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia -- 24.1 percent

2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota -- 17.2 percent

T-3. Justin Anderson, Dallas -- 13.8 percent

Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver -- 13.8 percent

5. Stanley Johnson, Detroit -- 8.0 percent

6. Sam Dekker, Houston -- 6.9 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Bobby Portis, Chicago; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Kristaps Porzingis, New York; D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers; Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee

Last year: Jabari Parker -- 45.9 percent

Worth noting: Towns seemed to be the obvious No. 1 pick for the Wolves, but didn't get much love from his fellow rookies. Four of the 36 couldn't vote for him, but 32 could, and he picked up just 10 total votes.

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?

1. Joseph Young (43), Indiana -- 12.1 percent

T-2. R.J. Hunter (28), Boston -- 9.1 percent

Tyus Jones (24), Minnesota -- 9.1 percent

Bobby Portis (22), Chicago -- 9.1 percent

Justise Winslow (10), Miami -- 9.1 percent

6. Terry Rozier (16), Boston -- 6.1 percent

Myles Turner (11), Indiana -- 6.1 percent

Others receiving votes: Devin Booker (13), Phoenix; Anthony Brown (34), L.A. Lakers; Willie Cauley-Stein (6), Sacramento; Jerian Grant (19), New York; Dakari Johnson (48), Oklahoma City; Stanley Johnson (8), Detroit; Trey Lyles (12), Utah; Jarell Martin (25), Memphis; Jordan Mickey (33), Boston; Emmanuel Mudiay (7), Denver; Jahlil Okafor (3), Philadelphia; Kristaps Porzingis (4), New York; Josh Richardson (40), Miami; Rashad Vaughn (17), Milwaukee

Last year: Kyle Anderson -- 11.1 percent

Worth noting: We changed the wording on this question (from "Which rookie is being most overlooked?"), and it still get the biggest mix of responses. Nine of the 11 picks from 3-13 (all except Mario Hezonja and Frank Kaminsky) got at least one vote.

Which rookie is the most athletic?

Anderson's Rim Rocker

Justin Anderson throws the hammer down.

1. Justin Anderson, Dallas -- 27.8 percent

2. Pat Connaughton, Portland -- 13.9 percent

3. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento -- 11.1 percent

4. Justise Winslow, Miami -- 8.3 percent

T-5. Mario Hezonja, Orlando -- 5.6 percent

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn -- 5.6 percent

J.P. Tokoto, Philadelphia -- 5.6 percent

8. Kelly Oubre, Washington -- 4.2 percent

Others receiving votes: Montrezl Harrell, Houston; Stanley Johnson, Detroit; Jarell Martin, Memphis; Chris McCullough, Brooklyn; Michael Qualls; Terry Rozier, Boston; Marcus Thornton, Boston

Last year: Zach LaVine -- 56.6 percent

Worth noting: This category usually doesn't get such a variety of responses. Maybe there are a lot of great athletes in this rookie class and maybe there's just nobody that stands out like LaVine did last year. Two of the guys who got votes -- McCullough and Qualls -- suffered torn ACLs in the last year.

Which rookie is the best shooter?

The Starters: Devin Booker

Suns rookie Devin Booker's profile page is blank, so The Starters asked him some basic questions to help fill it out.

1. Devin Booker, Phoenix -- 58.8 percent

T-2. Pat Connaughton, Portland -- 8.8 percent

R.J. Hunter, Boston -- 8.8 percent

4. Anthony Brown, L.A. Lakers -- 5.9 percent

Mario Hezonja, Orlando -- 5.9 percent

Others receiving votes: Tyler Harvey, Orlando; Stanley Johnson, Detroit; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee

Last year: Doug McDermott -- 39.5 percent

Worth noting: Booker, who shot 40 percent from 3-point range and 88 percent from the free-throw line in Summer League, was the only player to receive more than half of the votes for any question.

Which rookie is the best defender?

Hollis-Jefferson's Big Block

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson denies Jamal Jones at the rim.

1. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn -- 23.5 percent

2. Stanley Johnson, Detroit -- 20.6 percent

3. Justise Winslow, Miami -- 17.6 percent

T-4. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento -- 5.9 percent

Delon Wright, Toronto -- 5.9 percent

Others receiving votes: Justin Anderson, Dallas; Anthony Brown, L.A. Lakers; Rakeem Christmas, Indiana; Jerian Grant, New York; Montrezl Harrell, Houston; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Josh Richardson, Miami; Edy Tavares, Atlanta; Joseph Young, Indiana

Last year: K.J. McDaniels, Marcus Smart -- 13.5 percent

Worth noting: All the guys who received multiple votes will play for teams that ranked in the bottom 12 in defensive efficiency last season. Rookies seldom make a positive impact on that end of the floor, but for the teams they've joined, these five guys probably can't hurt.

Which rookie is the best playmaker?

After Dark: D'Angelo Russell

Rick talks some hoops and hits golf balls with Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell.

1. D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers -- 40.0 percent

2. Tyus Jones, Minnesota -- 17.1 percent

3. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver -- 14.3 percent

4. Delon Wright, Toronto -- 8.6 percent

T-5. Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City -- 5.7 percent

Joseph Young, Indiana -- 5.7 percent

Others receiving votes: Jerian Grant, New York; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Terry Rozier, Boston

Last year: Tyler Ennis -- 24.3 percent

Worth noting: This was the only question for which Stanley Johnson didn't get a vote. He wins the "Jack of all trades" award with votes for seven different questions. Kelly Oubre (six) and Willie Cauley-Stein (five) also seem to be versatile, but didn't win any categories either.

Which rookie is the funniest?

NBA Rooks: Frank Kaminsky

An all-access look at Charlotte Hornets first rounder Frank Kaminsky, who had an impressive pro debut at the Orlando Summer League.

1. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn -- 44.3 percent

2. Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte -- 25.7 percent

3. D'Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers -- 5.7 percent

Others receiving votes: Justin Anderson, Dallas; Stanley Johnson, Detroit; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City; Josh Richardson, Miami; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota; Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee; Justise Winslow, Miami; Joseph Young, Indiana

Last year: Joel Embiid -- 20.0 percent

Worth noting: Hollis-Jefferson received votes in just three categories, but won two of them and had the most total votes, thanks to his dominance in the humor department.

What will be the biggest adjustment for you, playing in the NBA?

1. Speed or pace of the game -- 38.6 percent

2. Length of season -- 18.6 percent

3. Physicality (size and strength of opponents) -- 17.1 percent

4. Lifestyle & time management -- 11.4 percent

5. Conditioning and body maintenance -- 4.3 percent

Also receiving votes: Complexity of the game, Paying taxes, Shorter shot clock, Travel

Last year: Speed or pace of the game -- 26.4 percent

Worth noting: Hopefully, the "paying taxes" guy has a good accountant.

Who is your favorite player in the league?

Rookies Discuss Facing NBA Vets

Lang Whitaker talks with several players during the 2015 rookie photo shoot.

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City -- 21.2 percent

2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers -- 18.2 percent

3. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 15.2 percent

T-4. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 9.1 percent

Dwyane Wade, Miami -- 9.1 percent

6. James Harden, Houston -- 6.1 percent

Others receiving votes: Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Kevin Garnett, Minnesota; Marc Gasol, Memphis; Rudy Gay, Sacramento; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Klay Thompson, Golden State; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City

Last year: Kevin Durant -- 25.0 percent

Worth noting: The top three vote-getters finished in the same order last year. The rooks weren't affected by the fact that Durant and Bryant combined to play just 62 games last season.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.