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Way-Too-Early NBA Rookie Award Predictions

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The NBA draft is over and it’s time to start making some predictions about the NBA’s newest players.

2018 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The dust of the 2018 NBA draft has finally settled. Teams have received their draft grades and fans bases are finally taking a break from dissecting the newest additions to their favorite teams. At this point, we know as much about these players as we can, considering the draft was just a few days ago.

But that still doesn't mean we know what’s going to happen next year, and we have hardly any idea about the effect these players are going to have on the league. Having said that, it’s never too early to speculate. So here are my predictions for the 2018 rookie class:

Rookie of the Year winner: Marvin Bagley

Bagley filled stat sheets in college, averaging over 21 points and 11 rebounds on 61 percent shooting for one of the best teams in college basketball. And he did so as a freshman. There’s nothing about his game that hints at anything less than continuing to put up stat-filling numbers at the NBA level. He has the size, strength, athleticism and skill to continue right where he left off in college. Also, playing for the Kings, he walks onto the court as the best player on the team and should have every opportunity to succeed. Sacramento even has a solid point guard and some shooting to support him. The knock for Bagley’s Rookie of the Year campaign is his team probably won’t win many games, so he may lose out to a rookie making an impact on a better team.

Also considered: Luka Doncic

Player that ends up with the best career: Luka Doncic

No one has entered the NBA draft with a better resume than Luka Doncic since Lew Alcindor in 1969. Doncic was the MVP in the second-best league in world at 18 — a league of NBA vets and full grown men. His mediocre shooting and athleticism dropped him to the third pick in the draft, but Doncic has the size and skill to be a once-in-a-generation type player. He also fell into a great system in Dallas with a coach, Rick Carlisle, that will put him in every position to succeed.

Also considered: DeAndre Ayton

First Team All-Rookie:

  • Jaren Jackson Jr
  • Marvin Bagley
  • Collin Sexton
  • Luca Donic
  • Kevin Knox

My first instinct was to take the top five picks of the draft; any of them could make it. But Trae Young still has Dennis Schroder manning the point guard spot, and DeAndre Ayton has a whole squad of players that want to score so he may have trouble finding touches. Knox and Sexton (assuming LeBron leaves) have all the opportunity to make an impact on day one.

Also considered: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Greatest effect on a playoff team as a rookie: Lonnie Walker IV

The Spurs are making the playoffs again next year because, well, they always do. Betting against them to do so would just be foolish. The Spurs drafted an NBA-ready player with an incredible ceiling at a position of need. Walker will have an impact on this team starting on day one.

Also considered: Donte DiVincenzo

Player that teams will regret not drafting: Robert Williams

Williams is a big, strong body with great length and tremendous athletic ability. Physically he is a comp of Clint Capella or a shorter DeAndre Jordan. What team couldn’t use that? Once a projected lottery pick, Williams fell because of an inconsistent motor and questionable attitude. But by teams letting him slip, a young, talented Celtics team ended up with a lottery-type talent out of the 27th pick. Teams will watch Williams play impactful minutes in the playoffs for years to come while many players picked before him never will.

Also considered: Michael Porter Jr.

Player picked that a team will regret the most: Troy Brown

This is not as much of a knock on Brown as it is hit fit with the Wizards. Brown has a great basketball IQ and great length, but he’s not a great athlete and has not figured out his jumper at this point in his career. That is going to make his fit with John Wall very dicey. It’s similar to Evan Turner’s fit on Portland with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Other than his length, he’s the opposite of a 3 and D guy. Washington has a few holes on their roster, like a shooting point guard or mobile big man, but backup non-shooting wing was not an area of need. Many of those needs could have been addressed by players taken after Brown. I have no doubt Brown can find success in the NBA but this did not seem to be the ideal situation for him or the Wizards, especially not at pick 15 in a loaded draft.

Also considered: Landry Shamet

Biggest draft unknown: Anfernee Simons

Simons is a good shooter at 19, something hard to come by. He also has tremendous athletic ability. That combination in an unproven player gives lots of reason to be excited. But the limited video that is available is not against competition similar to what he will be facing in the pros. The NBA is filled with great althetes that can shoot, but so is the G-League and most leagues overseas. The potential is there but if anyone tells you they know how Simons’ career is going to play out — they don’t.

Also considered: Dzanan Musa

Best non-lottery player: Lonnie Walker IV

There are a lot of good options here, but as I covered earlier, I feel like the path is paved for Walker to find a lot of success in San Antonio. He has all of the tools and can play either guard position. Dejounte Murray and Walker will be an electrifying backcourt in San Antonio for years to come.

I had this award saved for Jerome Williams but he ended up not qualifying when he got snagged in the lottery by the Clippers.

Also considered: Kevin Huerter

Best career for a second-round pick: Keita Bates-Diop

The Timberwolves came into the draft with the 20th pick and the 48th pick but the talent discrepancy between the two players they chose at those spots, Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop, is minimal. Okogie has more upside, he’s younger, doesn’t have the injury history, and is the better athlete; but Bates-Diop is bigger, longer, and is the better basketball player. Both have tremendous defensive potential so they should have no problem seeing the floor for a bad defensive team with a defensive-minded head coach in Tom Thibodeau. Diop has first-round talent, is NBA-ready, and has a role carved out for himself already. Not many second-round picks have that going for them.

Also considered: Elie Okobo


On the off chance that you disagree with my picks, please comment below with your thoughts and picks