With the end of the 2017 Playoffs approaching, it means three things: Cleveland vs. Golden State round 3, free agency and player movement rumors running rampant, and unlike previous years where awards were announced during the Playoffs, the reveal of the All-NBA teams.
The All-Rookie teams are one of the most interesting awards to look at, as it can tell us fans if our favorite rookie made the cut, which rookies rose above expectation based on their draft stock, and which rookies were duds in their debut years. There are also no position requirements, unlike the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams, so the top 5 rookies get on the first team, and the 5 under them get on the second team, pretty simple. Even though many of the players are extremely predictable, here are my predictions on which first-year players will make the All-Rookie first and second teams.
All-Rookie First Team
G: Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets had a stellar second half to the season, helping the Nuggets to a 15-11 record after the All-Star break, and scoring in double digits in all but one of his games in March.
Speaking of the All-Star break, Jamal Murray dominated the USA vs. World game, dropping 36 points and 11 assists against his rookie and sophomore peers, which thrust him into the national spotlight after having a lackluster start to his NBA career.
Across the course of his rookie season, Murray averaged a respectable 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game in 21.5 minutes per contest as he looked to break into Denver’s guard rotation.
G: Malcolm Brogdon
What a surprise ‘The President’ was.
Coming out of the University of Virginia as a second-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks, Brogdon surprised everyone with his high level of play straight out of the gate.
Coach Kidd saw the potential in the 24-year-old, giving him solid minutes for a second-round pick, which Brogdon made use of immediately.
Brogdon wound up finishing the year averaging 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, the only rookie not on the 76ers roster, along with Yogi Ferrell, to average double-digit points.
G: Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield had a rough year coming off his Naismith College Player of the Year award back at the Univeristy of Oklahoma.
Hield was drafted with the 6th pick to the Pelicans, where he started in 37 out of 57 games for them, posting 8.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists a game in 20.4 minutes per contest.
Then, during the All-Star break in the middle of the season, Hield was involved in the major trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, as Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé was apparently high on Buddy’s skillset.
It seemed to pay off for Buddy at least, as he went on to average 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his 25 games for the Kings.
F: Dario Saric
Dario Saric was certainly worth the wait.
Drafted two years prior by the 76ers with the 12th pick, Dario was stashed away in Europe until he was ready to come over to the US, and the extended time in Europe certainly helped his game.
Saric played all but one game for Philadelphia, averaging 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists, shooting 31% from deep in only 26 minutes of action.
So not only did the 6ers manage to grab the second-best rookie this season 2 years ago, they also drafted the ROY favourite in the same draft, who goes by the name of…
C: Joel Embiid
Could it be anyone else?
This kid was a breath of fresh air in the City of Brotherly Love, who’s fans have had to endure so much pain, and the fruits of their labor are finally beginning to show.
Embiid was far and away the best rookie this year. There may be a few debates calling the whole situation unfair based on how Embiid has had two years of NBA training and coaching before stepping onto the court, and the fact he only played in 31 games, but who cares, no other rookie in this class could come close to Embiid.
The Process averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in only 25 minutes of play this season. His Per 36 numbers are even more incredible: 29 points, 11 rebounds, 4.7 blocks A GAME.
This kid is going to be a star very soon, so watch out.
All-Rookie Second Team
G: Yogi Ferrell
Yogi definitely had the best story of any rookie this year.
Going undrafted, he was picked up by the Brooklyn Nets where he played 10 games and was far from impressive, averaging 5 points and 1.7 assists in 15 minutes of game time.
Brooklyn made their decision and sent him down to the D-League, where he was recalled twice from before being waived by Brooklyn.
He then signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks a month and a half later, where he went off against Portland, dropping 32 points on 9-11 shooting from downtown. The Mavericks were so impressed with his performance, they signed him to a 2-year deal a week later.
Ferrell finished the year averaging 10 points, 3.7 assists and 0.9 steals in 26 minutes a game.
F: Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram had a pretty disappointing year with the Lakers considering his draft position.
Ingram was given plenty of opportunity by coach Walton, averaging 29 minutes a game, but couldn’t manage to live up to his promising draft stock, only making it here due to the disappointing play of other rookies.
Despite his initial rookie campaign, Ingram’s body and skillset is a work in progress, and he should only improve as he gains more muscle mass which will definitely help him in the paint going forward.
Ingram finished the year for the Lakers with a line of 9.4 points, 4 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game, shooting a lowly 29% from three and 62% from the charity stripe.
F: Marquese Chriss
Drafted out of the University of Washington, Chriss had a solid year all things considered.
Chriss was drafted with the 8th pick to the Suns, and was given playing time right away, starting in 75 out of the 82 games he participated in.
Chriss still has some maturity issues to deal with, racking up multiple techs over the season due to short scuffles and general hotheadedness, something he should overcome as he grows up.
Marquese finished the year averaging a respectable 9.2 points, 4.2 boards and 0.9 blocks per contest.
F: Skal Labissiere
A surprising entry, Sacramento King Skal Labissiere out of Kentucky impressed me towards the end of the season.
Labissiere was another beneficiary of the DeMarcus Cousins trade, being allotted more playing time with the All-Star center’s departure.
He wasn’t given much playing time at the start of the season, playing for the Kings D-League affiliate and only playing in short bursts during blowouts for Sacramento.
But the 28th pick showed what he was worth when Cousins was traded, dropping 32 and 11 against the Suns midway through his streak of games played late in the season.
Skal finished the year with averages of 8.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.8 assists a game, and should only improve as he is given more opportunity.
C: Willy Hernangomez
Another second-rounder makes it into my predictions alongside Brogdon, with Hernangomez providing a bright spot alongside Porzingis for a drama-filled Knicks squad.
Willy was selected with the 35th pick in the draft, and wasn’t initially given playing time at the start of the season. He eventually gained Jeff Hornacek’s trust though, and finished the season averaging 18 minutes a game, providing 8.2 points and 7 rebounds per contest in his limited appearance time, shooting 52% from the field.