NBA Rookie of the Year Watch
The NBA season kicked off on Tuesday night, and with another season beginning, that means a brand-new class of rookies will all be making their respective debuts. Ahead of the long season ahead, here are some early, preseason favorites for Rookie of the Year:
Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
After an exceptional season at Oklahoma State, Cade Cunningham was made the first overall pick in the 2021 draft by the Detroit Pistons.
Cunningham will likely be handed the keys to the Pistons offense, as he’s expected to be their leading scorer and passer. Detroit was once a highly respected franchise, and they’ll hope Cunningham can help them regain that level of success.
Unfortunately, the No. 1 pick is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain. It is unclear when he will make his debut for Detroit.
Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
Jalen Green made history in this year’s draft, becoming the first top-5 pick to forgo a collegiate career and instead play in the NBA G-League.
Despite his lack of national exposure, Green caught the eyes of NBA scouts, especially in Houston. The Rockets took the 19-year-old guard with the second pick of the 2021 draft.
Houston is in a strange position as the Rockets enter their first full season without superstar James Harden. They’ll hope Green can develop into their next star guard.
Green got off to a rocky start to his career against Minnesota on Wednesday, scoring only nine points in 32 minutes. Although exploding for 30 points on Sunday against the Celtics.
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers
USC center Evan Mobley was made the third overall pick of the 2021 draft by Cleveland, and for good reason.
Mobley displayed numerous skills in his lone college season, averaging 16 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and even shooting a respectable 30% from behind the arc.
Mobley is as versatile as a big man can be. The only issue that could hold him back as a rookie is the presence of another productive young center, Jarrett Allen, on the Cavaliers’ roster.
However, that looked to be a non-issue in Mobley’s debut against Memphis. He scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and notched six assists for the Cavs in a terrific debut.
Outside of the top three draft picks, there are several other players who could potentially have strong rookie seasons.
Magic point guard Jalen Suggs, who had a terrific season with Gonzaga a year ago, is expected to handle the starting point guard duties in Orlando, affording him a substantial opportunity to put up some numbers.
Australian prospect Josh Giddey is expected to play a substantial role for the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the Thunder having few reliable players outside of star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey could quickly have a starting role in OKC.
Additionally, Pacers’ wing Chris Duarte, Wizards’ sharpshooter Corey Kispert and Kings’ point guard Davion Mitchell, all of whom are older, more experienced players, could build on successful collegiate careers in their first NBA seasons.
Joe Tuman is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.