This 2017 rookie class has taken the NBA for assault, with over a dozen standout young ballers that have proven that they’re in this league for the long run, making an immediate impact on their respective teams this season.
After some disappointing classes, these youngsters are looking like proven veterans already, and some of them are even managing to lead their teams this season despite being in the league for just a handful of months.
The Rookie of the Year competition is so close this year and it feels like the award is just up for grabs, depending on what happens over the last couple of months of the regular season. So today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 rookies this year.
10. Josh Jackson
Josh Jackson has been improving on a nightly basis and it’s kind of odd to see him not start for a Phoenix Suns team that desperately craves some help on the defensive end of the floor, especially considering he was the 4th overall pick of this year’s Draft.
Jackson’s hustle and energy in both ends of the hardwood is something not so many rookies have shown on a while, and he’s proven that he can become an elite two way player in the league in just a couple of seasons, posting rookie averages of 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1 steal a game per 36 minutes.
9. De’Aaron Fox
Well, De’Aaron Fox certainly hasn’t been nearly as impressive as everybody expected out of the gate considering what he had shown at the NCAA level, but he’s still shown glances of greatness during his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings.
Fox has even hit a couple of clutch shots with a game-winner earlier in the season, and his rookie averages of 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 1 steal per contest should only improve from now on.
8. Bogdan Bogdanovic
Coming out of Europe, Bogdanovic is no average rookie, as he’s had plenty of experience overseas and is already a proven veteran at the FIBA level despite being just 25 years old, but he’s still managed to make a successful transition to the NBA in no time.
It didn’t take much time for Bogdanovic to prove his sharpshooting skills for the renewed Sacramento Kings, and he even won the Rising Stars MVP after lighting it up from distance during All-Star Weekend, posting season averages of 11.5 points, 2.7 boards and 3.2 dimes per game on 46% shooting and 40% from three.
7. Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball has missed several games due to injury this season, and that’s the only reason why he isn’t ranked higher on this list because he was finally starting to peak after a very slow start of the year.
Ball’s shot wasn’t falling whatsoever but the Lakers were a much better defensive team when he was on the hardwood, and his season averages of 10.2 points, 7.1 boards and 7.1 dimes per contest were pretty much Jason Kidd-like for the UCLA product.
6. Dennis Smith Jr
Entering the season as one of the frontrunners to snatch home the ROY award, Dennis Smith Jr has been a bit of a disappointment, but just because of how much we were expecting out of him right away, ‘cause he’s been extremely good anyways for the sluggish Mavericks.
Smith’s athleticism is just off the charts and he has shown glances of greatness all season long, but still needs to find a bit of a shooting rhythm and take better care of the ball. Still, his averages of 14.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.9 dimes and 1 steal per game are quite impressive for a first-year player.
5. Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum was one of the highest ranked young players in the world and he already proved why - playing like a veteran from day one and stepping up for the Boston Celtics when they needed to fill the scoring gap after Gordon Hayward' injury.
Tatum’s shot is smooth as silk and it just seems like he has a never-ending bag of veteran tricks, and even though he’s kind of regressed over the last month, he’s still proven that he’s going to be a major stud on this league, with averages of 13.5 points, 5.1 points and 1.4 dimes on 47% shooting.
4. Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma is already looking like one of the biggest steals of the Draft, looking like a veteran and even outplaying Lonzo Ball on the Young Lakers with his scoring ability and a great skill set to stretch the team’s offense.
Kuzma has posted some pretty sick stat lines throughout the entire campaign, but coach Walton still prefers to lean with Julius Randle in the first unit. Still, Kyle has put per 36 min averages of 19.1 points, 7.1 boards and 2.1 dimes, with his rebounding and shot blocking being the areas he needs to put more work on during the summer.
3. Lauri Markkanen
Lauri Markkanen raised a lot of eyebrows during the Draft night, as most people thought he was just a poor man’s Kristaps Porzingis and yet another soft and unathletic European big man with some range that was going to become a major bust.
Well, it didn’t take long for him to just shut his doubters wrong, becoming the fastest player in NBA history to hit 100 three-pointers and showing a lot of upside in both ends of the court for the renewed Chicago Bulls. So far, the Finnisher has averaged 15.3 points, 7.7 boards and 2.2 three-pointers per contest.
2. Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell has been - by far - the biggest steal of this years’ Draft, going 13th overall to Denver and then immediately dealt to the Jazz, leading his team in scoring and carrying them to an 11 game winning streak that has them knocking on the postseason door.
Mitchell is just one of the most impressive and unstoppable scorers in the league right now, being able to create his own shot, find the open guy, hit from distance or just attack the rim with his crazy athleticism, and he’s definitely narrowing the gap for the ROY award with his season averages of 19.6 points, 3.5 boards, 3.5 dimes and 1.5 steals per game on 43% shooting.
1. Ben Simmons
After sitting down his entire rookie season, Ben Simmons immediately proved that he was more than worth the wait, making us remember guys like LeBron James and Magic Johnson with his outstanding playmaking and crafty ability to find the open guy for the rising Philadelphia 76ers.
Also, Simmons has been a much more locked in defender than everybody thought in the first place, and this is a guy that’s already a dominant scorer despite shooting with the wrong hand and having attempted just 10 3 pointers all season long. His averages of 16.4 points, 7.8 boards and 7.3 dimes with 1.9 steals per game make him a nightly triple-double threat, and he’s piled up 6 of them with 22 double-doubles as well.