NBA: Top 10 Rookies of 2017
It’s been a great year for rookie talent, but who’s been the best of the best in the stacked class of 2017?
From Ben Simmons to Jayson Tatum to Donovan Mitchell, it has truly been a draft class for the ages in 2017. But who is the pick of the bunch? Check out our Top 10 rookies of 2017.
10. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks
The high-flying point guard has been impressive in his first few months in Dallas, putting up 14 points, four rebounds and four assists a game at time of writing. He needs to improve his shooting percentages going forward, especially his 30.6% conversion rate from 3-point range and 66% from the free throw line, but Smith has more than shown that he can be a good player in this league.
9. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix Suns
Marquese Chriss was a standout rookie in 2016/17, making the All-Rookie Second Team. From January to April 2017, he put up a nice all-round line of 10.7 points, 4.9 boards, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks, shooting 46% from the field and 33% from deep. Chriss showed that he can play both ends of the floor and stretch the floor with his long-range shooting. Unfortunately, his form has dropped this season because he’s admittedly been out of shape. Hopefully, he can regain peak physical fitness and elevate his play in the future.
8. Buddy Hield, New Orleans Pelicans/ Sacramento Kings
Buddy Hield was one piece traded to Sacramento in the DeMarcus Cousins deal, and it benefitted his season greatly, improving his points per game from 8.6 to 15.8, shooting 48% of the field and almost 43% from deep. It was an impressive turnaround for the Oklahoma alum, who now must continue to progress with the other young players on the Kings to breathe life into Sacramento basketball.
7. Dario Saric, Philadelphia Sixers
Dario Saric was a huge bright spark for the Sixers in the second half of the season, and from January to April this year dropped 15.0 points and 6.6 rebounds a game on his way to the All-Rookie First team, and joined fellow Sixer Joel Embiid as a top-three candidate for the 2017 Rookie of the Year. His numbers are almost identical this season as they were in his rookie year, but this isn’t an issue as the Sixers have more influential pieces in the rotation now such as JJ Redick and Ben Simmons in the backcourt, with number one pick Markelle Fultz still to return. Saric has the skills and versatility to be an important part of “The Process”.
6. Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls
Lauri Markkanen looks set to be the first in a string of lottery picks for a Bulls team that is now in rebuild mode. The rebuild has started well so far, as they’ve acquired a great young talent in the Finnish power forward. He’s averaging 14.5points and 8.0 rebounds a game, shooting 40% from the field, 33.5% from deep and 83.9% from the free throw line. His 7-foot frame and all-around shooting stroke make him tough to deal with on the court, and he’s already rebounding at an impressive rate. Whether he’ll be the hallmark piece for the Bulls remains to be seen, but he’s definitely in the running for the All-Rookie first team this season.
5. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball may have been all the hype for the Lakers coming into the season, but it’s been Kyle Kuzma who’s been the standout rookie for the Lake-show so far. He’s averaging 16.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game, shooting 49% from the field, 38% from deep, and 77.6% from the charity stripe. What’s more impressive is that he’s doing this coming off the bench, and only started while Larry Nance Jr was out with a hand injury. Kuzma is an early candidate for Rookie of the Year, and many teams will kick themselves that they let him drop to 27th in the 2017 draft.
4. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
The 2017 Rookie of the Year is evidence that second round picks can make it far in this league, and from January to April 2017 but up a well-rounded line of 11.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists. His scoring was efficient across the board, converting 45% from the field, 33% from deep and an impressive 85.7% from the free throw line. With his 6’6” frame and strong build, he fit in perfectly with the identity of the Bucks team, and with him at the point made it into the playoffs as the sixth seed in the East, before being eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in the first round.
3. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell was only the 13th pick in the 2017 draft, but his play so far has made him one of the front runners for the Rookie of the Year award, and a clear selection for the All-Rookie team. He’s putting up points as if he’s been in the league for years, averaging 17.7 per game on the season, but 23.6 in his last ten games. He also has two 30+ point performances, and a 41-point game against the New Orleans Pelicans on his resume. He may be small for a shooting guard at 6’3″, but when he’s driving to the basket, no one has been able to stop him.
2. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum was elevated to the starting lineup after the horrific injury to Gordon Hayward in the Celtic’s season opener. He’s been a standout performer for a team that is first in the Eastern Conference. He’s been offensively sound, putting up 13.8 points off of 50.8% shooting from the field, and a staggering 51.5% from deep. But it’s his defense that has been most impressive, and has been a key factor in Boston leading the league in defensive efficiency. Tatum himself has a defensive rating of 101.8 points per 100 possessions, which is tenth in the entire league. Even if he doesn’t win Rookie of the Year, it looks like Tatum can look forward to a deep playoff run after the regular season.
1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia Sixers
The top pick of the 2016 draft missed his entire first year with injury, but has been sensational in his return this season. He’s averaging 17.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.9 assists as a 6’10” point guard, and although he’s an anemic shooter, still converts over 50% from the field. Simmons is clearly the front runner for Rookie of the Year, and may just creep into All-Star consideration if the Sixers can tally more wins going forward, but’s it’s already obvious that the LSU alum will be a star in this league, and can lead the Sixers back into the playoffs in the years to come.
Do you agree with our list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!