Top NBA Rookies of 2015
For many, the question of the top rookie in the NBA in 2015 begins and ends with Jahlil Okafor. Okafor seemed to have an NBA-ready offense in High School. Ninth grade even. But can his defense and health keep him on court long enough to maintain his college offensive prowess? June was rife with quality big men and talented guards. Who else is in the mix for potential honors when betting on the NBA Rookie of the Year?
Okafor opened the season in a big way, scoring 10 points in the first five minutes against the Boston Celtics. Even when his shot was ugly, Cody Zeller and David Lee were seemingly incapable of stopping him. Whether posting up, driving, or taking mid-range jumpers Okafor scored with ease, finishing with 26. But Okafor cannot create his own shot, and as the Philly point guard situation is not looking good the question remains who can give him the ball in the paint? Okafor’s defense remains a question mark, and he won’t be expected to accumulate stats in rebounds and blocks while playing alongside Nerlens Noel.
With talk that he may not even be a starter, the Laker point guard opened the season as a two-guard. With 4 points and 2 assists in 26 minutes, this was a very disappointing debut playing alongside shot-hog Kobe Bryant.
Towns was playing opening night against Russell, and while the teams were close, rookie versus rookie was a blowout. Towns finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds and never looked out of place in the Timberwolves’ 112-111 win despite being matched against the Lakers’ physical Roy Hibbert and Julius Randle.
Mudiay began the 2015 season with every indication he was the real deal, pacing the Nuggets with a 17 point, 9 assist, and 5 rebound performance. The biggest knock on his statline, however, was an eye-opening 11 turnovers. That is not sustainable for an NBA point guard. If he limits his TOs to 11 per week, that’ll be a different story.
Big things should be coming for Kings big man Cauley-Stein, however probably not too soon or even this season. Playing behind the dominant DeMarcus Cousins is going to hinder his minutes significantly. Even an injury to Cousins would leave Cauley-Stein behind Kosta Koufos on the depth chart. In eight minutes off the bench, the back-up center managed 2 points and 2 rebounds.
The Latvian Knick has been hailed as a potential prodigy, with many comparing him to a young Andrei Kirilenko. While he did not quite have an AK-47 performance, the 7’1″ Porzingis did manage to put something in each column of the boxscore with a all-around respectable 16 point, 5 rebound, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal night in the Knicks win over the Bucks, including a three-pointer.