The Leopard

Race for Rookie of the Year

Noah Hamula, Sports Writer

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The 2017 draft class has many potential contenders for rookie of the year.  While lottery pick Ben Simmons was expected to shine, rookies such as Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma, who were middle to late first rounders, have made a very large impact in the league.

One of the steals from the draft was Donovan Mitchell. The sophomore from Louisville has taken the NBA by storm. After being drafted 13th to the Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz traded Trey Lyles for Mitchell. After Gordon Hayward recently left the Jazz during his free agency, Mitchell has stepped up to the plate. He averages 19.2 points per game, which almost matches Hayward’s average of 21.9 points per game. He’s already had two 40 point games, something no other rookie has accomplished since Blake Griffin in 2009. With his 7 foot wingspan and 40.5 inch vertical, he is known for his outstanding dunks you would only see in a dunk contest. There is still two months left until rookie of the year is decided, but Donovan Mitchell has proven to be a strong contender.

Ben Simmons was drafted number 1 overall to the Philadelphia 76’s in the 2016 draft, however due to a foot fracture, he couldn’t play his first season. Despite his past injury, he has had an outstanding season so far. He won rookie of the year for the half-way mark in the season and continues to perform. While his points per game are not as high as some other rookies, he averages 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. His 6’10’’ frame has given him a huge advantage in rebounds and he is able to play all positions on the court. His playing style has been compared to Lebron James and he’s been seen as a potential all star next year.

Another rookie who no one knew before the draft is Kyle Kuzma. He played with the University of Utah for three years and was drafted 27th first round. He was originally drafted to the Brooklyn Nets but was traded to the lakers. He has been a huge contribution to the Lakers and has surprised many by his 15.7 points per game. Not only can he put points on the board, but he has great court vision averaging 2 assists per game. He can easily get inside the post and score from anywhere on the court. While he may not be getting all star stats like Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell, he is a serious contender for the 2018 rookie of the year award.

The 20 year old Lauri Markkanen from Finland has been turning heads all around the NBA. He was drafted 7th first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves but traded to the Chicago Bulls. At seven feet tall, not only is he a monster in the post, but he is a phenomenal three point shooter as well. In fact, he made history by becoming the fasted player to reach 100 three pointers. Not many seven footers shoot from the three point line, however Markkanen is not your normal player. He averages 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. If Markkanen keeps putting up these numbers, he could have a shot at winning rookie of the year.

As the season is coming to an end, there is a lot to consider when contemplating who should be the 2018 rookie of the year. There is a lot of talent in this year’s draft class and it will be very close as to who will win.

Rookie of the Year

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