Summer Dreaming: Rookie of the Year

VIDEO: Nerlens Noel put on a shotblocking show throughout Summer League

Late summer in North America is the start of hurricane season, a time when the weather forecasters keep their eyes peeled for potential tropical disturbances.

But with the season openers less than three months away, we’ll start looking farther out over the horizon for an early peek at the 2014-15 NBA official award winners and a few extra categories, just for fun.

Our second annual Summer Dreaming Series starts today with a look at my top five picks for Rookie of the Year. Send me yours.

Nerlens Noel, 76ers — While all eyes have been on the big-name talent arriving in the 2014 Draft class, the guy who had originally been projected as the No. 1 pick in 2013 just might take a page out of Blake Griffin‘s delayed gratification book to steal the thunder and the trophy. After being sidelined by an ACL injury, there were times late last season when he was clearly chomping at the bit and openly talking about his desire to get on the court. Yet, the Sixers held firm in resting him all season. When Noel finally got to play in Summer League, he showed his athleticism, his explosiveness and defensive skills. He’s an active big man and with the Sixers’ goal of playing at a fast pace, he’ll get plenty of chances to run the floor and put up numbers. With Philly’s top pick this year, Joel Embiid, likely sidelined for the season, Noel will also get his share of minutes and more. The Sixers waited decades to get their first Rookie of the Year winner last season in Michael Carter-Williams. Now they could make it two in a row.

Jabari Parker, Bucks — There will be questions to answer. Is his long-term future in the league as a small forward? Or does he slide over and use his shooting ability as a stretch four? The general consensus is there could be others in this year’s rookie class with greater potential, but Parker is the one most ready to step into the NBA and thrive, perhaps even star, from Day One. The Bucks franchise certainly needs a fresh face as a headliner as they move to a new era with new ownership and a new coach (Jason Kidd). He wasn’t as flashy as the neon signs in Las Vegas during Summer League, averaging 15 points and eight rebounds. However, Parker has everything in his offensive arsenal — from step-back jumpers to finishing inside — that enable him to be the main gun in the Bucks arsenal. He’s the chalk pick to win ROY.

Marcus Smart, Celtics — Big man Julius Randle is playing for the other rebuilding traditional powerhouse out West and could have his minutes blocked by free-agent signees Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis. Smart, however, will have no such problems getting (and staying) on the floor in Boston. He either learns playing alongside Rajon Rondo or takes his spot if the Celtics do pull the trigger and trade the veteran. Smart’s offense is streaky and he’ll have to learn discipline with his shots. But he’s a defensive bulldog who loves the challenge and is also a willing pupil that will quickly become the pet project of coach Brad Stevens. Smart should be a mainstay in Boston as it moves ahead in its reconstruction process.

Andrew Wiggins, Cavaliers — His chances of latching onto the rookie hardware will improve the minute he gets his wish and the trade from Cleveland to Minnesota goes through. While there may have been less pressure to be a role player alongside LeBron James on the Cavs’ roster, Wiggins will certainly get more chance to shine as the new face of the Timberwolves. There is a lot to learn and improve on. He’s got a questionable handle and really needs to improve his shot, but those are fixable areas. What you can’t teach is a leaping ability that goes through the roof. Plus, there’s his willingness to defend that is not far behind his offense. A big question, though: will the burden of carrying a remade Minnesota team built around him wear him down and make his stats suffer? There is smart money that says Wiggins could one day be the best of the the bunch, but chances are his raw talent alone won’t carry him to the ROY.

Elfrid Payton, Magic — He’s got a jump shot that needs plenty of work, but everything else about his game will make him an instant hit in Orlando. In fact, he could be a dark horse in the rookie race all season long. Payton’s place will be starting at the point, ending the experiment at converting Victor Oladipo. Doing so will allow both young guards to thrive. He had a lot of turnovers in his summer league debut, but also put up plenty of good numbers scoring, passing and rebounding. The rangy playmaker showed a real knack for delivering open teammates the ball, too. Payton has elite-level athleticism, plus a nose — and long arms — for racking up steals. He’ll take his lumps in the learning process. However, a young Magic team will give him all the minutes and opportunity he needs to show that he’s a star in the making.


  1. This is what I got for Top 5 of the NBA Rookie of the Year

    1. Jabari Parker Bucks
    2. Andrew Wiggins Timberwolves
    3. Julius Randle Lakers
    4. Elfrid Payton Magic
    5. Dante Exum Jazz

  2. Karlo Garcia says:

    Top 5 picks for Rookie Of The Year
    1:Gary Harris
    2.Zach LeVine
    3.Jabari Parker
    4.Julius Randle
    5.Nik Stauskas

  3. dc7 says:

    GARY HARRIS!!!!!!

  4. IrieChat says:

    Andrew Wiggins is a Rap, with Sam being on the coaching staff. He made Bosh into the player he is today when he was with the Raptors, and he will do the same for Wiggins ROY.

  5. aces says:

    The ROY will be someone on a really bad time and they will play 30 plus min. In addition, they are primary position at their position. So please shut up with mentioning dougie, nik, and randle. There are only 3 serious options here….parker, noel, and wiggins

    Btw, go sixers…we bout to have 3 straight ROY. MCW, Noel, and Embiid

  6. Ben. says:

    I think Dante Exom, his skill set looked far too sound.


    Mirotic, Lavine, Exum, Payne, Glen robins 3rd (if he gets minutes) however these my picks ignoring those mentioned in the article

  8. Toby Carter says:

    Eew eew eew one decade. Answer got ROY.

  9. JC says:

    Everybody is sleeping on the best shooter in the draft. Nik Stauskas is going to get plenty of run in Sac and open looks as Cousins demands a double team.

  10. Doug McDermott will be on the top of that list just wait and see. He is probably in the best scenario, his game is way more developed than the mostly all the draft picks. 4 years as a solid player in college, will translate into rookie of the year or runner up for sure

  11. Temple2855 says:

    Watch for Nick Johnson to be in the running at the end of the year….

  12. PalmOil Preference says:

    Sleeper pick Jordan Adams- MEM.

    Thier a team in need of a wing scorer and this young man playing with a stout PG in Michael Conley and the two top 5 big man at thier postions in Gasol and Randolph. He will have a scoring role or a playoff contentder.

  13. Whas Dat says:

    Julius Randle, where is he on you silly list.

  14. Javier says:

    Randle will be Rookie of the year …..

  15. Jay says:

    J. Randle should be on the list. Hes a double double machine

  16. Derrick says:

    Your list looks good with the exception of not mentioning Doug In Chi-town. I feel he could b the ROY!

  17. Mr. Know It All says:

    Small correction: Iverson was the Sixers’ first rookie of the year in 96/97. The list seems pretty sound to me 😉

  18. Ryan says:

    Someone explain to me why Noel is a rookie? The dude was drafted last season, traveled, practiced, and received medical help from his team all season, and was even fully capable of playing last season, yet people call him a rookie as if this is his first season as a NBA player?!? Noel was a PAID NBA PLAYER last season.

    Also, I hope people don’t let their jaws bite their smalls brains off when Exum drops jaws. You don’t think a kid with his talent won’t be able to make big splash in NBA……

    • T gas TT ako says:

      it’s simple,, he’s like griffin whom didnt played any game last season,, so technically hes still a rookie,, got it buddy

    • KidGersh5 says:

      While i agree with you, Noel is a rookie because of the fact that he didnt play a single game last season. The same thing happened to Blake Griffin

    • The Truth says:

      Noel did not play last season, although he was on the books, he did not play so this will be his first time to play a nba minutes that is what a rookie is considered. The same thing happened with B. Griffen, he was injured before he got to play, sat out a whole year then cam back the next year to snag the rookie of the year. I don’t make the rules but they do make sense to me. Can you really call Noel a sophmore in the NBA, when he has never logged a single minute on court in the NBA?

    • bigmatta23 says:

      And if you go further back, David “The Admiral” Robinson was drafted number one overall in 87 and then gave National Service for 2 years before joining the league as a ROOKIE in 1989-90 season. It’s also the same as when drafting overseas players…you are not a ROOKIE unitl you play your first minute in the league.

  19. 110% Sabazz fan says:

    THE much much more credible top 5 rookies: Zach LaVine, Mitch McGary, PJ Hairston, Bruno “Brazilian Durant” Caboclo, and my #1 boy Shabazz Napier!!!q!!1 yeah baby!!!!!!11!!

    • voice says:

      Stop talking.

      You obviously didn’t watch Shabazz’s summer league, and two of those players will not even receive consistent minutes. Zach LaVine is the only reasonable pick on your list, and that is if K Love does get traded as is reported.

  20. Gillsy says:

    Even though the Magics management have made some questionable trades and acquisitions over the last few years. the players that they have drafted over the last two seasons show promise for the future.

  21. harriethehawk says:

    I think the Milwaukee Bucks will have a much better season, and it helps to have Parker. Best wishes.

  22. See red says:

    DOUG MCDERMOTT NEEDS TO BE ON THIS LIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Whom says:

    I’m surprised to see Payton getting an early possible ROTY nod. I am hoping Orlando plays the rookies alongside Oladipo for the bulk of minutes in each game, if for no other reason then for it to be a learning experience. I’m not sure Payton specifically will be ROTY, but I do think he has potential to be a formidable starting point guard and possible star in this league as Blinebury does (as opposed to what I’ve heard about him being probably a solid role player instead). It will bank on the fact that he’ll need to develop a consistent jumpshot, the same going for Oladipo and Gordon.

  24. YesNoYesNo says:

    HOW BOUT MY BOY, DOUGIE MCBUCKETS!!!!!??????!!!!?!?!?!?!?!

    • theCHI2014 says:

      I agree my man. Unfortunately id like to believe thibs will finally play rookies significant minutes but ill have to see it to believe it

    • boogie nights says:

      I don’t think tom would give him enough minutes to show off

      • YesNoYesNo says:

        Bulls are a very deep team, and Thibs has to play around with the roster to find the best lineups. I think early on Mirotic, McDermott, and Snell will get decent minutes, but as the season progresses Thibs will probably start to tighten up the rotations. I think they all have potential to be serviceable role players this coming season, but I doubt they see the court very often in the 4th quarter of games, or in the postseason.

      • See red says:

        starting lineup: rose, butler, mcbuckets, gasol, Noah.

        2nd unit: brooks, snell, dunleavy, mirotic, Gibson.

        Closing unit: Hinrich, Rose, Butler, Gibson, Noah

      • edward says:

        See Red. Really your slow brained man. How is kirk not gonna play the whole game and run the closing of games. no warm up sit for 45 mins an come in a help us win huh? Second coach said dunleavy was starting along with gibson. Gasol is the 2nd unit center tho I’m sure he will run with noah. But just stop please. I’m glad we got Doug but he will not get the mins or shots to win rookie of the year.