Who Becomes ROTY in This Stacked Class?

They say that NBA Draft picks are at their highest value on Draft Night, but after watching this years Summer League, I’m not so sure that applies this time around. I got so hyped watching Summer League, I even placed my bet on who becomes this year’s Rookie of the Year. Scroll down to find out who:

Wow. We’re gonna have a hard time figuring out who will become the Rookie of the Year this season… A welcome change from last years uninspiring ROTY race. No disrespect to our future President Malcolm Brogdon, but last years most prominent rookie probably wouldn’t even make the All-Rookie 2nd Team this upcoming NBA season.

This years draft class brought us players who already look ready to contribute right away. Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, the #1 draft pick Markelle Fultz and many more.

Last season’s #1 pick Ben Simmons is also eligible after sitting out last season and don’t forget Euro Superstar Milos Teodosic who is also in the running despite being 10 years older than his competition for the award.

With apologies to Jonathan Isaac, Frank Ntilikina, Malik Monk and the Chinese Sensation Ding Yanhuang, let’s take a closer look at some of the top candidates:

Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics (14/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

Tatum is the most polished and NBA ready player of the whole 2017 Draft Class. He can be an elite scorer from Day 1, with an array of moves ranging from crossovers to Dirk fadeaways.

He has been the most impressive player in Summer League for me so far and has shown more versatility than just scoring, using his size to grab rebounds and going coast to coast.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

He might have been drafted with the Brooklyn Nets pick, but the team that selected him were still the Boston Celtics, who are still reaping the rewards from their blockbuster trade 4 years ago. While it will be awesome for Tatum to compete and get playoffs experience right away, he won’t be the star of the team like he has been in college and for Boston’s summer league team.

Tatum will at most be a third option on offense, behind Isaiah Thomas and the newly acquired Gordon Hayward and might not get the point totals a ROTY winner usually gets. Not to mention that the Celtics are LOADED in the forwards department, with Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Marcus Morris and fellow rookie Semi Ojeleye all likely to get minutes at the same positions Tatum plays at.

Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers (3/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

Lavar Ball is already speaking it into existence.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

De’Aaron Fox will eat his ass.

Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76ers (5/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

He is the #1 pick. Most NBA GMs looked at all the available high-end talent in this draft class and thought Fultz was the best of the bunch. That has to account for something. The 76ers certainly thought he was a good fit, as they traded away a potential top 5 pick on top of their own #3 pick to get Fultz.

Bryan Colangelo, the 76ers GM is not wrong either, Fultz does fit in perfectly with the team. He rounds out a big 3 with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, perfectly meshing with them as an off the ball threat as well as being a top distributor, with a high ceiling on defense as well. Being joined in the backcourt by JJ Redick will certainly help, as Philadelphia might finally join the playoffs once again. If they do, Fultz has a very good chance of being ROTY.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

After years of seeing their top picks being injured, the whole city of Philadelphia probably held their breath when Fultz went down with an ankle injury in their latest Summer League game. He is reportedly walking and doing fine, so hopefully and most likely he’ll be ready to go when the season kicks off in about 3 months. If Fultz is healthy, the biggest case against him winning ROTY will probably share the court with him.

Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers (13/5 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

Holy shit have you seen those highlights!? Ben Simmons was the Rookie of the Year favorite last year and by Gawd he is the favorite again this season after sitting out last year with a fractured fifth metatarsal in his foot. The flashy passing levels will at least triple in the NBA in the upcoming season, with Ben Simmons, Lonzo Ball and next man up Milos Teodosic playing in the league. It will be a joy to watch.

Even though he won’t participate in Summer League this year, Simmons is fully fit and in good shape to dazzle the crowds in a real NBA game as well.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

Much of what I said about Markelle Fultz applies here as well. The two will share the attention rather than one of them getting the ROTY spotlight. The injury concern is also still there for Simmons, who suffered setbacks last season on a foot injury that is worrisome for NBA big men. Hopefully we get to see a fully healthy 76ers, as Joel Embiid is also a big injury risk.

Milos Teodosic – Los Angeles Clippers (30/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

Milos Teodosic has been reluctant to leave his small pond of Europe and take a shot at becoming an NBA player, but he finally agreed to come over and play at the biggest stage. He couldn’t have entered a better situation than he has with the re-tooling Los Angeles Clippers.

I think the Clippers have a better shot at the playoffs than most people and if they get in, Teodosic has a good chance of being the ROTY. Stepping right into the CP3 shaped hole left with LA’s second biggest basketball team, Teodosic will likely blow away the low expectations fans have for the Clippers now that they finally changed up their formula. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are still there however, and playing next to former teammate Patrick Beverley can hide his suspect defense a bit along with DJ lurking in the paint.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

Would it be slightly disappointing if the Rookie of the Year was a 30 year old guy, when there are so many bright future stars to pick from? Milos might charm his way into the voter’s hearts with his flashy passes and hesi pull-up jimbos, but he might also frustrate those of us who really hoop and recognize his lackluster defense or his reportedly poor attitude.

Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns (11/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

He is this year’s “The player I really like in the draft is X” award winner, being the hard nosed defender who all pundits love to rave about. It didn’t work out with Kris Dunn, Justise Winslow or Marcus Smart, but maybe Josh Jackson will be the one who turns into a superstar.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

Josh Jackson is a beast defensively, but he won’t do much scoring in his first few years in the league. He’ll be a fantastic compliment to Suns star Devin Booker, but you normally need to score quite a lot to become the Rookie of The Year. On a poor Phoenix Suns team, I don’t see it just yet.

Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks (5/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

Dennis Smith Jr. slipped on draft night and if he was a ferocious attacker on the basketball court before, his draft stock taking a dip will give him all the more fuel to prove everyone wrong and win Rookie of the Year honors. DSJ fits Dallas perfectly and is a much needed talent boost for a team that haven’t had such a promising rookie in years.

With Dirk Nowitzky still out there stretching the floor, the lanes will open for Smith Jr, who made monster dunks out of no spacing with a terribly coached NC State in college. With a well run franchise in Dallas, with top coach Rick Carlisle, Smith Jr is in the perfect environment to succeed and it might take him all the way to winning his first NBA accolade.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

The reason he fell down to #9 in the NBA draft was the questions around his length on defense and if his 36% 3PT shooting was legit or not. Like Tatum, DSJ will have to adjust to not being the number 1 guy on his team once he shares the floor with the likes of Dirk and Harrison Barnes, an adjustment which will put his point guard skills to the test. For a #9 pick though, I do like his chances.

De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings (6/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

By the looks of that play, he’s going to be running away with it.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

I had him pegged as a bust in my boom or bust predictions article and while I am starting to doubt that prediction after seeing him speeding up and down the court in summer league, he hasn’t yet faced true NBA competition where his deficiencies are exploited. With the Kings signing George Hill to be a veteran PG as well, Fox might not get the required playing time to win this award.

Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz (14/1 Odds)

Why he will win ROTY:

I’m gonna damn near speak it to existence myself. I had to let out a disappointed “Fuck!” when he was picked, as he didn’t fall down to my Timberwolves at #16. Getting drafted by Utah Jazz though — who cleverly traded up from #24 using Trey Lyles — is probably one of the best things that could have happened to Mitchell.

Utah are desperate for a star now that Gordon Hayward bolted east to Boston, and they might just have one in Mitchell. He has all the tools both offensively and defensively to make an instant impact and even challenge for the Rookie of the Year award. He wasn’t part of the 8 heralded prospects heading into the draft, but he might prove to become the best of the bunch.

Why he won’t win ROTY:

He will…

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