The NBA Rookie of the Year award is one of the league’s most prestigious single season honors. Recently, the award has gone to such players as Michael Carter-Williams and Andrew Wiggins.
The question of who takes the award home this season is going to be highly debated throughout the 2015-16 season.
It’s easy to say that Karl Anthony-Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor will take home the hardware at seasons end. Instead, let’s take a look at some under the radar candidates for Rookie of the Year honors that many are overlooking.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers- Turner didn’t have the same draft pedigree as Jahlil Okafor or D’Angelo Russell, but the big man from Texas might have the highest upside of any incoming NBA freshman. His stock soared to new heights when Indiana traded Roy Hibbert to the Los Angeles Lakers. The 6’11 PF/C will see an abundance of minutes in the Pacers front court.
It’s likely Turner will start alongside newly signed, Jordan Hill, and could put up rookie year numbers similar to those of Detroit Pistons star, Andre Drummond, in his first year.
Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz- The Jazz are everyone’s sleeper pick to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. It’s quite understandable, as the team features a strong front court pairing of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. However, there was talk over the off-season of Utah trading Favors. This makes Lyles one of the more intriguing rookies in all of basketball.
Lyles possess quite the offensive skill set. He was instrumental to Kentucky’s dominating run to the Final Four, averaging 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds. He will look to bring the same kind of energy to a Jazz team that is determined to make a run at the NBA playoffs.
Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons- Stan Van Gundy has assembled a roster in the Motor City that is expected to make great strides this season. With the additions of Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova, the team is set to improve upon last season’s team that failed to reach the postseason. The biggest addition might come from rookie, Stanley Johnson, who could step in as the teams starting shooting guard.
Johnson, who left the University of Arizona after his freshman season, already features an NBA-ready physique, standing 6’7 and weighing 245 lbs. He dominated the NBA Summer League averaging just under 18 points.
Fans have also caught a case of Johnson fever. His 19.4 percent ranked second amongst all NBA Rookies in an NBA.com poll which asked the question of who will be this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year. Those numbers were good for second place, just behind Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor.
It’s entirely possible that Towns, Russell or Okafor take home Rookie of the Year honors. However, the opportunities that players such as Turner, Lyles and Johnson find themselves in could male this season’s race much more intriguing.