In the wake of the 2016 NBA draft, No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons was considered the early frontrunner for the 2016/17 Rookie of the Year award. However, a foot injury derailed Simmons’ chances, and it’s his teammate Joel Embiid that now looks like the heavy favorite to be named this season’s Rookie of the Year.
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, who breaks down the league’s top rookies on a weekly basis in his “Rookie Ladder” feature, has Embiid atop his most recent list, with Sixers teammate Dario Saric at number two. However, while Embiid and Saric are technically NBA rookies, having never appeared in a game before this year, both players are members of the 2014 draft class. Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in 2014, missed his first two seasons due to injury, while 12th overall pick Saric remained overseas for two more years before arriving stateside.
The 2016 draft class, sans Simmons so far, is certainly represented on Howard-Cooper’s list. But according to the NBA.com scribe, it’s Malcolm Brogdon, a second-round pick, who ranks as 2016’s most impressive rookie so far. Top picks like Jamal Murray and Brandon Ingram show up a little further down the list, while others, such as Kris Dunn, Jaylen Brown, and Buddy Hield aren’t mentioned at all.
Meanwhile, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders observes (via Twitter), only two rookies – Embiid and Willy Hernangomez – have an above-average PER through the first quarter of the 2016/17 season, with late first-round picks or second-rounders like Pascal Siakam, Tyler Ulis, Brogdon, and Deyonta Davis showing up among the top 10 in PER.
There are typically some growing pains for rookies as they adjust to the NBA schedule and the NBA game, but prospects like Dunn and Hield, who played four years of college ball, were expected to have an impact right away. And Ingram was right there with Simmons as a consensus top-two player in the draft. So far, their play has been up and down.
That brings us to today’s discussion question: Which top picks in the 2016 draft class have impressed or disappointed you so far? Will those top picks who are struggling in the early going turn things around, or have you altered your view of their long-term outlook at all? And which of the later picks in the draft have stood out to you?
Jump into the comments section below to weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s draft class!