EVERY NBA great has to start somewhere. The rookies that enter the league each year highlight the beginning of a new chapter with the possibility of becoming household names in the near future. More times that not the Rookie of the Year (ROY) winners have gone on to achieve greatness, but this year things may be different. With Dario Saric and Malcolm Brodgon headlining the field, this years crop of rookies may be the worst we have seen in decades.
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IT is worth mentioning that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, two of the best ‘potential’ ROY winners have had their campaigns dashed by injury. Simmons hasn’t seen the court at all and while Embiid was superb in his 31 career games to date, that isn’t enough of a body of work to hand him the trophy. Ironically the favourite to claim the Rookie of the Year award for this season is now Dario Saric, who is Embiid and Simmons teammate on the 76ers. The last month worth of games since the All Star break have pushed Saric to the top of the ROY rankings. He has averaged close to 19.8 PPG and 7.7 RPG in Embiid’s absence over the past 30 days, which are numbers that perhaps make him a borderline All Star if maintained over a full season.
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IF we are looking at their body of work though it’s worth pointing out that Saric was nowhere near as good with Embiid healthy. Over Saric’s first 56 career games he started just 11 and averaged 10.8 PPG. That hardly screams ‘best first year player’. Brogdon has had his inconsistencies, but the 36th pick in last years draft has had plenty of good moments too. He has emerged as a key versatile piece for the Bucks off the bench able to runt he offense and contribute across the board. Again though his 10.1 PPG make it hard to make a case for him to unseed Saric after the month the Croatian forward has had. That’s where the field dries up, with no other rookie averaging over 10 points a game, and call me crazy but if you can’t score 10 points a night in the NBA you probably aren’t a ROY contender. In fact if he wins Saric’s 12.8 PPG would be the lowest by any winner since Mike Miller in 2000-01 (11.9). That 2000-01 draft is universally known as one of the worst all time, so could we being seeing shitty NBA crop 2.0 with this years field?
AGAIN it’s unfair to label this class as failures with perhaps the two best players injured and the future could see a number of them emerge as potential All Stars. If you take away Joel Embiid’s averages though this year’s rookies have put up the worst numbers from a 1st year bunch in recent memory. Players like Marquese Chriss, Yogi Ferrell, Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray have all shown flashes late in the season with Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown consistent performers throughout the season too. While those players and more could turn into great NBA players one day, they haven’t equated to much in year one.
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