So much for the Heralded 2014 NBA rookie class. This was supposed to be the draft everyone was trying to trade into because it was so deep and awesome. It's still awfully early, but so far this draft class has sucked something awful. In fact, the rookie of the year winner might come from the 2011 draft.
Take a look at these stats or below is the summarized view (stats up to games on 11/29)
#5 Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon's the PER leader of the rookie class at this point with a 15.4. His scoring efficiency has been great as well. He may have been the leader except that he had foot surgery and is presently out indefinitely. There's no timeline for Gordon's return as it depends on how he responds to the surgery.
If Gordon can make it back in time to play the final half of the season and plays as well as he started off, then he will stand some chance at getting back in the race due to the fairly pedestrian competition.
However, since he's presently out indefinitely and there's a good chance he may not come back in time to make an impact or may not play as well when he comes back initially, he's somewhat of a long shot.
#4 Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins isn't off to a dazzling start so far, but he's got a couple things going for him that will keep him in the race. First, being the #1 pick in the draft, people will always look and consider him. If he improves over the course of the season then it will be noticed by the voters because of that expectation.
Second, he'll get a crapload of playing time in Minnesota. Wiggins is one of maybe six rookies getting really serious burn every night. This will allow him to work through his issues quicker than other players with a shorter leash, allow him more opportunities to impress voters, and allow him to accumulate more total stats.
#3 K.J. McDaniels
Will anyone notice McDaniels toiling away in Philly? His scoring rate is presently tops of the rookie class, but unlike many of the guys close to his rate, he's doing it with really good efficiency with a TS% of 57%.
The problem for McDaniels is outside of that, he's adding very little to the game and not impacting it much in terms of rebounds, assists, or anything else.
He's also doing it for a team half the league wants to ban from the draft for tanking (which is ridiculous, but that's a different post). McDaniels will continue to get plenty of opportunities and has performed well so far. He'll likely go up against a lot of teams with the foot off the gas as well given how awful Philly is which might help him.
Of course, he'll get very little national spotlight attention, and league pass followers aren't going to be lining up to watch Philly (at least I sure as heck am not).
#2 Nikola Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic is 2nd in PER, 2nd in Win score, 3rd in TS%. He's 9th in total points and 8th in points per minute (but only 1.6 points per 36 minutes away from #1). Nikola Mirotic probably isn't your favorite for rookie of the year, but he's definitely up there right now.
Working for Mirotic is that the Bulls will be on national TV a ton this season, so he'll be seen by the voters. He'll also play in plenty of meaningful games and have a chance to make the impact.
Working against Mirotic is that he simply won't get the minutes to accumulate gaudy stats. Voters typically aren't looking at per minute/efficiency metrics, so the fact that he's extremely efficiently compared to many others with similar per minute scoring rates won't stack up well against the per game totals higher minute players can score.
His opportunity to truly impress also seems dependent on the Bulls having injuries. A scenario where Mirotic has a shot to win ROY probably means problems for the Bulls because it means one of their big three big men is out for an extended period of time. So far, Gasol, Noah, and Gibson have all missed time, and Gibson is still out. It's not hard to envision a scenario where Mirotic can get significant minutes all season long even if it isn't a happy thought.
#1 Jabari Parker
Parker's third in PER behind Gordon and Mirotic, but only by a shade. He's also playing a ton more minutes and a more integral role to his team than either. His offensive efficiency is pretty poor sitting at .502, but his scoring rate is still decent and he's taking on a large burden on his team.
Beyond that, the Milwaukee Bucks have been surprisingly good this season posting a 10-8 record so far which makes them 5th in the East (yeah, it's okay to laugh at the East). Parker was also a preseason favorite for ROY and was viewed as an NBA ready prospect, because of the preseason hype, it will be tough for someone to overcome him without having a considerably better season.
Given he has by far the largest role of any contenders, appears to have impacted wins, and voters probably aren't pouring over advanced stats, Parker's the strong favorite right now.
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