Many NBA stars rely on their potential to get them to the big league in the first place. Once they make it to the NBA though, it’s all about standing out from the crowd. It can be hard for a young player to make a big impression on their established pros, but these are the NBA Rookie of the Year contenders.
Kendrick Nunn has shown what he can do for the Heat by being named the Rookie of the Month three times already this season. That shows that the young guard has some serious skills on the court, and he’s impressing the right people. The rookie is averaging 30 minutes per game, with 15.7 points per game and 3.6 assists. He has fitted well into the Heat roster and has shown that playing for a playoff contender hasn’t fazed him at all.
While everyone was paying attention to Zion at Duke, RJ Barrett couldn’t be ignored because he was a huge part of that successful college side. Barrett was the third overall pick and was drafted to the Knicks. He isn’t averaging as high a points per game total as other contenders and that combined with the fact the Knicks continue to struggle, mean Barrett’s chances are slim. Barrett has had a very solid rookie season, and his ability to get to the rim is going to be important for the Knicks in the future.
To this point, Ja Morant has guided the Memphis Grizzlies into playoff contention, and he has been the shining light in that team. From the very beginning of the regular season, Morant put himself in Rookie of the Year contention with his scoring exploits and assists. He has consistently played well when on the court, and with his main Rookie of the Year contender injured for three months, Morant should take the title. It would take something drastic to happen for him to lose it from here.
Japan-born Rui Hachimura impressed when his NBA career started, but a freak injury ruled him out for longer than expected. He was injured after his own teammate accidentally kicked him, which meant he had to hit the brakes on his scintillating form. Hachimura has averaged just under 30 minutes for the Wizards so far this season as he becomes more and more influential to his team’s success.
Although Zion Williamson spent the majority of the season out injured so far, he didn’t waste any time showing everyone what he can do. In fact, Zion’s performances have been so outstanding after starting halfway through the season that he’s put himself in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. While it looks like Ja Morant may hold out and take it, if Williamson can boost the Pelicans to the playoffs, he may be in with a shout.
With more than half the season gone, the Rookie of the Year contenders have pretty much fallen into place. Ja Morant looks like a shoo-in for the title, unless Zion can somehow elevate his team to do something remarkable as the season draws to a close.