Each year the NBA announces two All-rookie Teams highlighting the ten best first year performers around the Association.
Analyzing the past selections shows that these teams do not always indicate who will have the best careers.
Here’s a look at the top rookies for the 2017-18 season.
Ben Simmons had a firm grasp on the ROY award before the emergence of Donovan Mitchell for the Utah Jazz. Mitchell is the primary offensive threat on a rising Jazz team–he is chipping in 16 field goal attempts per game and boasting a usage rate of 28.6%. Turning over an offense to a rookie is often the move for young/tanking teams, but Mitchell has thrived and he leads all rookies in scoring at 19.7 per game.
Mitchell is explosive, effective, a joy to watch and his future is brighter than Utah’s alternate jerseys.
Simmons has been excellent in his rookie season, leading rookies in rebounds, assists, minutes. #25 is also second in steals per game. That statistical production is enticing as the 6’10” Simmons is extremely dynamic despite a broken jump shot that some consider is with the wrong hand. Simmons has been able to overcome that with aggressive drives to the basket and taking advantage of transition opportunities.
All in all, at 16.2 points per game, Simmons is second among rookies in points and squarely in the mix for Rookie of the Year.
Jayson Tatum is a starter on the Eastern Conference #2 seed and he has appeared in every game for Boston this season. Tatum has battled ups and downs like all rookies and after starting the season scorching hot from deep, then regressing, Tatum is hitting 44% of his threes since the All Star break.
Jayson is a talented scorer who would have a larger role on a worse team, but the 20 year old has shown maturity fitting in with a talented roster. Tatum’s coach Brad Stevens said, “he can add value to winning. And even in that San Antonio game, when he didn’t get many attempts, he still defended great. And then when his attempts came in the fourth quarter he still stepped up and knocked them in. To me that’s a sign of great poise. ”
Tatum’s excellent 58.3 True Shooting percentage is evidence of his effectiveness when his #0 is called.
Kuz has been a steal for the Lakers after being selected with the 27th overall pick.
The 6’9″ man out of Utah has shown the ability to score in a multitude of ways, capable of hitting threes and slicing to the rim. Kuzma is second amongst rookies in three pointers made, third in scoring, and fifth in rebounding.
He fits the archetype of a stretch 4 perfectly and Luke Walton has praised Kuzma’s work ethic and competitive fire multiple times with the media.
The 7 footer from Finland has proven many wrong this season showcasing the talent that led to him being selected #7 overall.
“The Finnisher” makes two threes per game and his 14.9 points per game and 7.6 rebounds are good for fourth and second respectively among all rookies. Markkanen’s 46 percent 3 point attempt rate is encouraging because Markkanen has proven that he can get his shot off, despite the fact that his efficiency isn’t great (34.5%).
The Bulls appear to have nabbed a cornerstone as Lauri can provide great value as a scoring 7 footer with stroke and a solid handle.
Regardless of whether Lonzo’s offensive game develops to the level Lavar thinks it will, Lonzo has already proven that he is capable of being an effective player in the NBA.
Ball has excellent vision and he is second in this rookie class at 7.1 assists per game. Perhaps the biggest area where Lonzo has excelled has been defensively. Ball has great length that allows him to be a presence defensively. Luke Walton said,” Zo anticipates great, he gets deflections, he uses his length to challenge shots.” Lonzo’s ability to create turnovers (1.7 SPG) and grab rebounds (6.9) allows him to push the pace and make plays for his teammates.
While his jumpshot hasn’t fallen like you might imagine from a Big Baller, Lonzo’s upside is still tremendous.
Dennis Smith Jr.
DSJ also hasn’t been incredibly efficient this season, but that is to be expected from a young point guard who shoulders a large responsibility with little surrounding talent.
Smith is fifth among rookies in points per game (14.9) and fourth in assists (4.9) despite shooting 38% from the field. The NC State product has flashes where his potential as a lead ball handler and shot creator shine through, and patience will be the key for Smith’s development.
Lastly, the #9 overall pick is an elite athlete with ridiculous bounce, capable of throwing down jams that take your breath away.
Josh Jackson fits the mold of a modern wing that is capable of defending across multiple positions and he plays extremely hard on a nightly basis. Suns head coach Jay Triano said, “He’s got more energy than anybody, He’s just able to attack… His ability to play in the open court gives us a chance to run in transition” The Kansas product thrives when he can run the floor and get easy buckets.
We have highlighted Jackson’s similarities with a young Paul George, but it has been a challenge for Jackson to produce consistently for the struggling Suns. The biggest question going forward for JJ will be his jumper as the #4 overall pick is shooting only 40% overall and 26% from three.
John Collins compiles stats in limited minutes (23 MPG) and his per-36 numbers of 16 points and 10 rebounds show what the Wake Forest product is capable of.
JC is second amongst rookies with a field goal percentage of 57.8% and it’s hard to miss when Collins is putting people on posters. Collins attacks the offensive glass as well, currently 7th in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage at 12.6%. Lastly, Collins swats 1.1 shots per game which is best among his rookie peers.
Like Collins, Allen has been effective in a limited role primarily off the bench at the start of the year.
He leads all rookies with a sky high 58.9% field goal percentage and the Nets appear to have nabbed a promising young big with the 22nd pick. Allen’s per-36 numbers of 15 points,10 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks show that the former Texas Longhorn has a large impact when he is on the floor.
Without their own first round pick in recent years the Nets have taken to the latter part of the first round to find intriguing prospects who have slipped. Allen fits this mold and coach Kenny Atkinson praised Allen’s athleticism saying, “How fast he is up and down the court, how quick he is off his feet. How well he moves. We’re talking about a modern five man in this league.”
Fox has struggled some minor injuries, but the Kentucky speedster has been everything he was supposed to be. Fox actually has a pretty good-looking jumpshot and his 33% shooting from deep is higher than many scouts predicted it would be. Fox has the tools to be an elite point guard if he continues his development.
The only second rounder on this list, Brooks has provided solid contribution in 67 games for the Grizzlies. The 6’6″ forward out of Oregon is averaging 10 points per game while shooting 37% from deep.
Adebayo has major bounce and he figures to be a large part of Miami’s core going forward. Bam has an awesome name, is a glass eater, and he has a good understanding of how to play in Spoelstra’s system.
After watching Collins closely in college I figured it would take time for Collins to hit his stride in the NBA. After a slow start, Collins has come on strong recently for the surging Blazers who have earned lots of national attention recently. Collins brings unique skills as both a floor spacer and shot blocking big, and he has given a spark to Portland’s second unit.