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NBA ROY Race

Adam Shay

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Last year’s rookie class was loaded with talent, including Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum and Lauri Markkanen. Aside from those four, many second year players have improved immensely: De’Aaron Fox (17.3 PPG) and John Collins (19.5 PPG). The 2018-19 draft class had giant shoes to fill and thus far, the rookies have shown they are another great group of freshman. 

Obviously it’s too early to tell since it’s been almost a season, but the potential star power is equivalent to last year’s class. Ten rookies are averaging over 10.0 PPG and have emerged as the future foundations for their teams. Despite the overall rookie success, two have excelled above the rest: Dallas Mavericks’ shooting guard Luka Doncic and Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Trae Young. Here are some of their significant 2018-19 stats: 

Luka Doncic:

  • .427 field goal percentage, 21.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.9 ASG, 1.0 SPG, .326 three point percentage, and 4.7 win shares. The Mavericks are 32-48, 14th in the Western Conference.

Trae Young:

  • .419 field goal percentage, 19.1 PPG, 8.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, .326 three point percentage, .826 free throw percentage, and 3.2 win shares. The Hawks are 29-52, 12th in the Eastern Conference. 

Considering Doncic and Young are both 20, the future and growth for both players is limitless. With both of them being guards, their games are relatively similar regarding shooting, facilitating, and a highlight reel filled with flair. It’s very rare, but there is one possibility to decide the ROY: a tie. Three times in NBA history there has been a ROY tie with the most recent coming in 1999-00 between Elton Brand and Steve Francis. 

Doncic is seen as the clear ROY candidate for awhile now. In four consecutive months from November 2018-February 2019, Doncic won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month award. With handles like a point guard, the 6’7″ shooting guard has a variety of ways to score and maneuver to the hoop, or, he can shoot over his defenders. Sounds kind of like a player named Dirk Nowitzki, huh? Nowitzki is the perfect mentor, Doncic is the perfect heir to throne, and his rookie season has been consistent since his first game. Also, according to Mark Followill, the Mavericks announcer, Doncic has already made good company. 

Young has only improved as the season progressed, resulting in a superstar performance on March 1 when he scored 49 points and 16 assists in a 168-161 loss against the Chicago Bulls. For most of the season, his field goal percentage was under .40 percent, but has raised enough to compile an average shooting season.  Nevertheless, he has the potential to blossom into a Stephen Curry style player. In his rookie campaign, Young has seven 30 points, 10 assist double-doubles, the second most behind Oscar Robertson and more than Michael Jordan, Curry, and LeBron James. He has the clutch gene as well, hitting a buzzer beater against the first place Milwaukee Bucks on March 31. One of his main concerns: Young is third in the NBA with 302 turnovers.

The ROY has to be Luka Doncic or a tie. Doncic has solidified himself as a star in Dallas and with his skill set of scoring, facilitating, and rebounding at the two spot, he has no ceiling. Plus, Doncic does have those four years extra from playing in the EuroLeague. He is born for the spotlight, has a young swagger to him, and proved as a rookie this can be his league within the next five years. If it wasn’t for Doncic, Young would have won by a landslide. Would it be cool for both of them to share the ROY Award? Absolutely. However, taking accomplishments and statistics into consideration, Doncic has the upper hand.  

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Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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