This years class has shown some definitive promise, as many of the first time players have quickly risen to stardom in their respective teams. Here are my top five rooks from all over the league.
5. Justise Winslow, Miami Heat: This was a hard pick to make, considering there are many rookies worthy of this five spot, but due to his consistency and ability to affect many aspects of a game, I’m gonna give this Dukie the spot. Winslow is averaging seven points, five rebounds and about two assists, and though his defensive prowess has not completely translated to the NBA, flashes of his lockdown defense are most definitely there. Winslow has some great vets on his team, and as long as he harnesses their wisdom and tips, I can really see this player being something special.
4. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets: Honestly, Mudiay has been one of my favorite rookies of the year so far. His calm composure is that of a five year veteran, his athletic ability and NBA-ready body is hard to miss, while his defense has been vastly underrated upon entry to the league. Despite all of this, Mudiay is not perfect. While his averages of 12 points, four boards, and nearly six assists are nice, Mudiay also turns the ball over nearly five times per contest. I believe that Mudiay will up his assist total and eventually cut down his turnovers, and when that happens, I hope the league is prepared.
3. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers: Jahlil Okafor is getting this number three spot amongst this class of stellar rooks. Now this is definitely a controversial pick, due to the fact that Okafor could easily be interchanged with the upcoming two slot, but allow me to explain. Okafor’s numbers are phenomenal, he’s averaging a rookie high 20 points, seven boards, and a nice block per game. Although, none of these numbers have translated to anything even close to a win. The 76ers are now 0-8 on the year, and though I love what they’re doing with allowing their young talent time to develop, I also wonder how much longer this city will deal with the tanking culture of the team. Regardless, Okafor’s play has been great, and I do have him pegged as a frontrunner for ROTY.
2. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks: As of now, now being the key word, I am calling Porzingis the steal of the draft. While I still believe he his years away from reaching his full potential, a Dirk-Hybrid type player, Porzingis’ emphatic play on both ends of the floor is very encouraging. Averaging 12 points, a block, and eight rebounds, the main reason Porzingis has this spot is because his play translates directly into wins for this New York team. I expect Porzingis’ play to remain consistent, and believe that he will one day be the guy leading the Knicks to wins.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: Towns has honestly looked great, and has exceeded all of my personal expectations thus far. Towns is being mentored by the all time great big man Kevin Garnett, and judging by the way Town’s has been playing, Garnett’s teaching abilities might nearly be as good as his game. Towns is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and a staggering three blocks, all the while helping a young Timberwolves team get off to a solid start. So long as he continues to develop like this, Towns will remain in the running for what should turn out to be a rather competitive Rookie of the Year Award.