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A Look at the NBA Rookie Survey Results - Rookie of the Year, Best Career, Biggest Steal

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Every year NBA.com puts out the Rookie Survey. Every rookie takes part of the survey in which they vote on who will win Rookie of the Year, who will have the best career, who was the biggest steal of the draft, who is the most athletic, who is the best shooter and a bunch of other questions. It’s always intriguing to see how they vote among their peers and it’s worth nothing they’ll miss big time, just look at them voting Kris Dunn as Rookie of the Year last year. We’ll take a look at the results and how they line up.

Rookie of the Year: 

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A little bit of a surprise here as the rookies voted Dennis Smith Jr the favorite to win ROY. It does make sense when you look at his playing style going alongside Rick Carlisle – one of the best coaches in the NBA. He’ll have the ball in his hands a ton and will put up huge numbers, especially when Noel is there and they can run the high pick-and-roll. He’s also coming off a big time Summer League, which is fresh in everyone’s minds. Taking a look at everyone listed though, I’m pretty sure Dwayne Bacon and Tony Bradley were either voting for themselves or a teammate voted for them. I think if you ask people it’s a 4-person race in the preseason with DSJ joined by Ball, Fultz and Simmons as the most likely to win it. I still think Lonzo will be the favorite as the Lakers will run him plenty of minutes and look to get him as much time on the court as possible.

Best Career: 

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A pretty big gap from Ball/Tatum to the Jackson/Smith, which is surprising but when you look at the voting it makes sense. You have to assume people expect Tatum to take advantage of the situation where he can contribute on a playoff team and one that should finish top-3 in the East for the next handful of years. Putting him with Brad Stevens and his polished offensive game make sense as to why he’s voted to have the best career. For Lonzo it’s similar. The Lakers are expected to sign someone in free agency to play alongside Ball whether that’s Paul George, LeBron, Westbrook or any sort of combo. What I don’t understand is Harry Giles receiving as many votes as he did. For a guy with plenty of injury concerns, his peers are sure showing trust in his knees to hold up for a lengthy career. My vote here would be Josh Jackson as he can just do a little bit of everything and seems like one of those guys that will stick around for 15 years.

Biggest Steal: 

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No shock here what so ever. Donovan Mitchell is going to end up playing a lot better than the 13th player in this draft. On top of that the top-4 all make sense as everyone was a little shocked to see them fall as far as they did plus all had impressive summer leagues. Mitchell was viewed as a top-11 guy, DSJ was viewed as a top-6 type guy, Collins top-15 and Bell was expected to slide into the first round. All are in great situations to where they can contribute right away, even John Collins who is playing on an Atlanta team who might be the worst team in the NBA. What all four guys have too is an NBA-ready game in some fashion. Mitchell is extremely athletic, can defend. Collins is polished with his post moves. DSJ is a guy who can step in and get you buckets right away. Bell is an elite defender who can protect the rim. In terms of steal, my vote is going to end up being Jawun Evans. who went about 10 picks later than he should have.

Most Athletic: 

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Any reason to post dunk highlights is good enough for me. Here’s 10 minutes of Dennis Smith Jr., dunking. I am surprised to see John Collins rank 3rd on this list, especially over Bam as the big guy to make the list.

Adjustment: 

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This is a question that I find intriguing. You always hear about the jump the guys have to make from college ball to the NBA. The fact they have physicality topping their list simply makes sense. Despite playing high-level talent, there are hundreds of players they go up against in college that don’t make the NBA. They play mid-majors, who start like 6’7″ centers. That’s a wing in the NBA. You always see guys typically put on weight as they head into their second year in the NBA. That’s the other big adjustment you see. How guys handle getting chucked as they go across the lane or how they can hold position in the post. For young post players, the ability to hold your spot and not get pushed into the high post is a telling sign early in the career. If you can do that, you’re a step ahead. For guards it’s how you handle the bump. If you can take the bump and continue to attack, you’re a step ahead.

Most Important Skill:

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This is the first year that this question has been asked to the rookies and it shows the way the game is changing. The two top answers are shooting and ball-handling, showing that this positionless, ‘small ball’ era is real. Teams want guys who can stretch the floor and attack their opponents either by shooting or blowing by them. This goes for everyone. If you’re a post player, you better have at least a 15-foot jumper in your arsenal. That’s what teams want to see. The whole concept in the NBA right now is beating the death lineup the Warriors can throw out there. You need to find a Draymond type guy who can guard the post, rebound, handle the ball and shoot. Granted, Draymond is Draymond for a reason, you need to find someone who can mimic that. On top of just shooting, the most important skill within that is release time. Close outs happen even quicker in the NBA, meaning you better reduce the time the ball is in your hand.

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Other Awards

Best Shooter – Luke Kennard

Favorite NBA Player -LeBron James

Best Play Maker – Lonzo Ball

Best Defender – Josh Jackson