The 2016 draft class thus far has not lived up to the hype or potential that many thought would. This has resulted in the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Award race being dominated most of the season by Joel Embiid (drafted in 2014 but has not played until this season). Now with him being out for the season, the award is there for the taking.
At the beginning of the season, most people would have predicted one of the top prospects to win the award such as Ben Simmons (injured), Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn, or Jamal Murray. This is just the first season for these young rookies, and they will have plenty of time to improve and reach their potential.
With the top prospects underperforming there have been a few pleasant surprises that have a chance to win this award.
Honorable Mention: Yogi Ferrell
Yogi Ferrell has played very well since signing with the Dallas Mavericks in late January. He won the Rookie of the Month Award for the Western Conference in February, averaging 12 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately Yogi has only played in 27 games as of right now, and unless he plays out of his mind for the rest of the year, he is not likely to win the award.
4. Marquese Chriss
Marquese Chriss was everywhere for the @Suns.
— NBA (@NBA) March 6, 2017
Chriss has been having a solid rookie season, and he looks to be getting more consistent by the game. In his past eight games, he has had five double-digit scoring totals, and he has only done that in 14 other games this season. Since the All-Star break, he has also been shooting 56.1 percent, where as on the season as a whole, is shooting 43.8 percent. Marquese has already shown development in his play just from earlier this season, and Phoenix Suns fans should be extremely happy with his play. With that being said, Chriss did not start the season as well and that is what hurts him most in this award race.
3. Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid has taken the league by storm this season to lead all rookies in scoring, rebounding, and blocks. He had a case for an All-Star appearance, so that just says what kind of season he has been having. So if Embiid has been playing out of his mind this season, you may be asking why he is third on this list. This is because of the amount of games he has played. Joel has played in 31 games, but he is out for the rest of the season. Giving any award to someone who only played in 31 games is outrageous, even if they are lightyears ahead of the competition. Embiid has been unreal this season, and if he was able to play in even 50 games, the award would be his without a doubt. Sadly, injuries are once again holding Joel back.
2. Malcolm Brogdon
Brogdon has definitely been the most surprising player from this year’s rookie class, being drafted with the 36th overall pick (6th pick, 2nd round). The Milwaukee Bucks got a steal that late in the draft with this kid. He is averaging 9.9 points, 4.1 assists (leads all rookies), and 1.1 steals per game. Malcolm is in a tight race for the Rookie of the Year Award and for the remainder of the season, it will be between these last two players. Brogdon in his 17 starts this year has averaged 13 points per game while shooting nearly 45 percent from three and 94 percent on his free throws. He has started in the last five games for the Bucks, and if he can continue to play that way, he may be able to take control of the top spot.
— NBA (@NBA) March 4, 2017
Through his last 12 games, Dario Saric has been averaging almost 19 points per game, and he came off of the bench for the first five games of that stretch (three 20-plus point performances off the bench). During this stretch, he has also been averaging 8.3 rebounds a night, while improving on his efficiency almost every game (he is shooting a very low 40 percent on the year). Dario has been the man for the Philadelphia 76ers since Joel Embiid went down, and it looks like he could be the person who steals the award away from Embiid as well. With increased minutes it does not seem like Saric will slow down anytime soon, and if that’s the case, Dario will more than likely be your 2017 Rookie of the Year.