Since our own Damian Lillard figures to be in the running for the ROY award and finished Summer League ranked on top of NBA.com's Rookie Ladder I want to take a look at the other potential challengers he has for the award.
My criteria is loosely based around the last 7 ROY winners.. Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving. The common theme around these guys seems to be the ability to step in with an NBA ready ability to score and start or play starter-level minutes. This criteria is obviously quite debatable but it seems to be the basic foundation of what the ROY voters are looking for. I'm also going to weigh this against their Summer League performance since that is all we've really seen of them against NBA level talent.
Over the last 25 years the award hasn't gone to a player chosen below the 9th pick. I know its *possible* that someone pulls a Mark Jackson and wins the award from a low or 2nd round pick but for this post I'm only going to consider the top 10 draft picks and break down their chances:
1 Anthony Davis: A game changer at the defensive end and no slouch on offense Davis figures to put up the kind of numbers that ROY voters like *if* he starts and plays starter-type minutes. Interesting to see though how many minutes he plays and how many starts he gets since the Hornets acquired Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez at the positions he will likely play. He'll be in the running.
2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: A hustle player, competitor, defender and "glue guy" who won't likely be the focal point of the offense. But then again who will be.. Gerald Henderson? The Bobcats are definitely in developing-youngsters mode so its likely he sees a lot of playing time. Personally I can't see him putting up the type of numbers that the voters like. If he steps out with some game changing defense, puts up decent scoring numbers and makes some game winning plays I could see him getting talked about for the ROY award.
3 Bradley Beal: For as highly drafted as he was and for how much emphasis was put on his shooting ability I'd say this kid kinda flopped in Summer League. If he struggles during the regular season I can't see the Wizards starting him over Jordan Crawford. And I don't think he has the type of body or game to play at the 3. As for what I've seen right now I'm not going to put him in the running for ROY.
4 Dion Waiters: Another high draft pick that didn't seem to have the best Summer League. I felt like this kid was a stretch at the 4th overall pick and wouldn't be surprised if he had a tough season. Playing next to Kyrie Irving its not likely he handles the ball enough to put up ROY worthy scoring numbers. I'm not putting him in the running.
5 Thomas Robinson: I'm predicting T-Rob to have a strong rookie season. He doesn't have much in the way of a solid star player in front of him at his position (Chuck Hayes??) and he has the type of solid PF game that will translate well into the NBA. Playing next to a double-double in DeMarcus Cousins and with some dependable shooters at the perimeter I think he'll have a more than decent shot at being in the ROY running.
6 Damian Lillard: Our boy dominated Summer League, has the starting job all but locked up and has the type of game that ROY voters love. Its his award to lose.
7 Harrison Barnes: A solid showing in Summer League and a great chance at starting for the Warriors will mean good things for this kid. His numbers this summer were close to 17ppg and 6rpg. Those kind of stats as a rookie will definitely get you in the ROY conversation. Playing within the type of spacing you get from great shooters like Klay Thompson and Stef Curry... along with the post game of David Lee/Andrew Bogut.. is exactly the situation he'll need to play his game and get into the ROY conversation.
8 Terrence Ross: He had a solid Summer League but the Raptors have so many guards and wings that it is tough for me to predict he gets enough starts or minutes to put up ROY numbers. They aren't going to play him at the point, obviously. So he has to compete with Landry Fields and DeMar DeRozan at SG. Maybe they try to play him at SF where he'll have to compete with Linas Kleiza for minutes (who is a solid player and had a pretty great summer at the Olympics). I'm not going to put him in the running for ROY.
9 Andre Drummond: Everyone seems to agree that this kid is going to have a heck of a learning curve. It takes big men longer to develop and you have to go all the way back to Emeka Okafor the last time a true center won the ROY. Playing behind Greg Monroe certainly isn't going to guarantee him starts or minutes. I don't see him making any type of noise in the ROY race.
10 Austin Rivers: With Eric Gordon locked up there is literally no chance he starts at SG. He admitted during Summer League that he has never played PG and felt uncomfortable doing it. Standing in the shadows of Anthony Davis' spotlight isn't going to help his cause either. A rough transition to the NBA is what I predict for Mr. Rivers due largely to having to learn a new position. I don't see him in the running for ROY.
After reviewing this stuff I like to think that Lillard has it all but locked up. What do you Bedgers think?