Evaluating the NBA Rookie Class of 2017

The 2017 rookie class is nothing short of superb, and will go down as one of the best in recent memory. In addition to the “new” rookies, we also get our first look at 2016 1st overall pick, Ben Simmons. What is most exciting about this rookie class is the depth that will be added to the deepest position in the NBA, the Point Guard position. Beyond that there is some great depth on the wings, and some potential long-time starters in the front-court. Let’s take a look at some of the standouts, and who projects to be a member of the All-Rookie teams by years end.

ROY Favorites

Ben Simmons/Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76’ers

The 76’ers have finally been rewarded for Trusting The Process, as Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz will both make their NBA debuts this season.

Simmons, who missed all of his inaugural season with a foot injury, will make an impact from game one and should put up good numbers for the Sixers this year. While he will share touches with Fultz, Simmons’ playmaking ability will make an impact for a team that has had lackluster back-courts for years. The two biggest question marks for Simmons are going to be his conditioning post-injury and his jumper.

Fultz will also be handed a lot of playmaking responsibilities from day one, and should be able to thrive with the ball in his hands. Fultz should rank highly amongst the rookie leaders in both points and assists per game. It would not be shocking to see both Fultz and Simmons average close to 15/5/4 as rookies with the amount of touches both will get. Both should also factor in the ROY race from the beginning to the end of the season.

Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball is by far the most talked about rookie off the court. His play on the court will do little to slow down the chatter about him. Ball will be handed the keys to the Lake Show from day one, and will have one of the highest usage rate out of all of the rookies. Ball will lead all rookies in assists and should help the Lakers improve their record, and show he is the face of the franchise for the next 10-15 years. The Ball family is the most polarizing sports family, maybe ever, Lonzo’s on-court ability will keep the Ball name a household one for years to come.

Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks

Smith has already thrown down Top-10 play level dunks in the preseason, and he will find himself in the Top 10 more than once as a rookie. He may be the most exciting rookie when you combine his skill level and athleticism. Back in the summer, Rick Carlisle told him he would have full responsibility as the primary ball. He will put up solid numbers, but I don’t know if Dallas will be as improved as LA or Philly, which is why I see Ball/Fultz/Simmons all ahead of him. As long as he stays healthy, Smith will be an ROY finalist at seasons end.

Sleepers

Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics

Tatum is going to be a very good pro, for a long time. Leaving him off the favorites list was in no way meant as disrespect, I simply do not see Tatum getting enough touches, or numbers to leap over the top 4. Tatum is on by far the best team among rookies, and may very well be playing deep into June. But it will be interesting to see how Brad Stevens uses him during his rookie campaign. Long term, Tatum could potentially end up being the best pro in the class, I just do not think his ROY odds are very good at this stage.

D’Aaron Fox- Sacramento Kings

Fox will be another rookie point guard that will be handed control from the start for Sacramento. The Kings will probably still rank among the leagues worst teams and I think that will play a bit of a factor in Fox being a 2nd tier Rookie of the Year candidate this season. Fox is going to be a huge part of the foundation to improve the Kings moving forward, and his number will be good, but I think he will find himself outside of the top 5 in ROY voting.

Malik Monk – Charlotte Hornets

Monk will provide a great scoring complement/counterpart to point guard Kemba Walker. Playing off of the ball will allow him to thrive right away. Monk is so athletic that he may possibly find himself a part of the dunk contest. He will help Charlotte attempt to get over the hump, and make a playoff push. Monk will score a lot, and provide a lot of highlights as a rookie. Also, like Fox and Tatum, he will be a great long term pieces for his franchise. Monk probably won’t win Rookie of the Year, but he could play himself into being a factor by seasons end.

Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns

Some draft experts considered Jackson to be the best player in the 2017 draft class. It is scary to think about the long term potential of a wing tandem consisting of Josh Jackson and Devin Booker. Jackson is the most NBA ready defensive player in the class and will likely provide complementary scoring for Phoenix. Jackson should find himself on the all-rookie first team, but he will be sharing touches with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.

Honorable, Honorable Mention: Bam Adebayo-Miami, Jonathan Isaac-Orlando and Donovan Mitchell-Utah Jazz

Preseason Rookie Power Rankings

Picking TWO all-rookie teams for this crop of rookies will prove to be extra difficult. The backcourts are going to be loaded and make it hard A) narrow down the guards and B) slot two traditional lineups of PG/SG/SF/PF/C. This will be the first of a weekly installment of a top 10 power rankings system. So without further ado, here is the preseason edition:

1. Lonzo Ball
2. Ben Simmons
3. Markelle Fultz
4. Dennis Smith Jr.
5. Jayson Tatum
6. Josh Jackson
7. D’Aaron Fox
8. Malik Monk
9. Jonathan Isaac
10. Bam Adebayo