First Year Veterans

Ab Stanley

The question that has been on everybody’s mind toward the end of the NBA season was “Who is the Rookie of the Year?”

We all thought it would be an easy victory for Philadelphia 76ers’ point guard Ben Simmons but Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell made it a real competition by the end of the seeason. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum might be on the outside looking in but his play during the regular season will give him some consideration. It’s a good thing the voters have already made their choice, because these guys are having terrific post-seasons. The question now shifts to,  “Are these guys really this good, this fast ?”

Mitchell led all rookies in scoring during the regular season (20.5 points per game) and has raised his average to 26.1 points per game in the playoffs. He has shown aggressiveness late in games, forcing his way to the basket and drawing fouls. The team looks to him when they need a bucket and he accepts that role like he’s been around for a decade.

Simmons is averaging 18.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 2.3 steals in the playoffs. His court vision is already at the top of the league with the best players. He puts his teammates in the right positions to score easily and he can out-rebound most big men. He’s also an underrated defender with a tall frame and quick hands.

Tatum is not gonna win the award but he has been a difference maker nonetheless. He is averaging 17.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in the playoffs for a Boston team that has multiple injuries to big stars. He has become a mismatch, especially in one-on-one situations. He’s either too tall for wing players or too fast for bigger defenders guarding him.

These players have raised their play and have subsequently raised expectations for their teams’ chances in the playoffs. Its hard to remember three rookies with as much impact on their respectve teams in their rookie year. There’s no Rookie of the Playoffs award but if there was, these three guys would be the front runners. There is a finals MVP and from what we’ve seen, its not farfetched to think one of these guys could be in the running for that.

Ab Stanley

Atlanta, GA

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