Though the 2017-18 regular season is over, we are still seeing plenty of rookie prowess with the postseason underway.
Even though the Rookie of the Year honor is essentially a two-man race, it is worth stopping to admire the work put in by this season's entire rookie class. So many of them came in to play large roles on their teams. Some rebuilding, and some legitimate playoff contenders.
An argument could be made that at least seven or eight of these guys could have beat out Malcolm Brogdon for ROY honors last year if they had entered the league. Brogdon represented a bit of a down rookie year, but still. The stark comparison between last year and this one is noteworthy.
A couple of fun, unorthodox rookies were Milos Teodosic and Andre Ingram. Teodosic came over from Europe at the age of 30 and started slinging flashy passes for the Clippers, though his season was marred by injury. Andre Ingram at 32 had spent his entire career in the G-League, but was to finally called up by the Lakers for their last two games. LA loves the old fellas.
Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell
The aforementioned two-man race is between Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz. Both teams are still in the thick of the playoffs, led by their star rookies.
Simmons is likely the front-runner; a Magic Johnson-esque 6-10 point guard that puts up well-rounded lines without needing an outside shot. Once he develops as a perimeter threat and more efficient free throw shooter, he will be one of the best in the game.
Donovan Mitchell is the offensive focal point of the defense-heavy Utah Jazz squad. He leads rookies in scoring as the only one to average over 20 per contest. The sky is the limit as he improves his efficiency and ball-distribution.
The other guys/studs
Any other season, Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanan, and Dennis Smith Jr. would be legit ROY contenders. Tatum had a great year shooting the ball and doing everything asked of him for an already established Celtic squad. The others listed above stood out due to necessity on weaker teams, but had fantastic years.
You could even argue that Josh Jackson, De'Aaron Fox, Bogdon Bogdonovic, and Lonzo Ball could have been in contention on down-years like in 2016-17. All of the above players so-far averaged double-digit scoring. Ball spent much of the year hurt, however. Bogdonovic won MVP of the rookie-sophomore game that probably featured many future All-Stars.
All this and we barely got to see anything out of number one draft pick, Markelle Fultz due to a shoulder injury. He is now coming of the bench for the playoff Sixers though. A couple of other rookies that had solid seasons that we'll see more of in the future are John Collins, Jarrett Allen, Bam Adebayo, and Mike James.
A couple of rookies that saw plenty of time, but will hope to produce more in the future were Frank Ntilikina and Malik Monk.
The Basketball Movement looks forward to monitoring the progress of all of these players and getting to work with more and more NBA talent moving forward. Great season, everyone!
Any statistics used from Basketball Reference