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Who are Rookie of the Year favorites? Burke, Oladipo to start

Aug 9, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT

Trey Burke

There’s a formula for who often wins the Rookie of the year. They have to be a good player, certainly. More than that, he needs to be a player with the ball in his hands and on a team where he is going to be asked to take on a lot of responsibility.

Damian Lillard was a perfect example last season in Portland. Before him Kyrie Irving, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul all fit the mold — that accounts for seven of the last eight ROY winners. (Blake Griffin was a bit of an anomaly in that the ball wasn’t in his hands, but he was pretty spectacular as a rookie.)

So who are the favorites this year? It feels a little more wide open than other seasons, but here are my top five in order of :

1) Trey Burke, Utah Jazz. He fits the formula perfectly — he is a point guard going to a team that desperately needs a point guard, and he has some young but potentially impressive talent around him (Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter). Burke is going to be asked to do a lot in Utah and he should put up good numbers as a rookie. He needs to be steadier from the outside, we’ll see how he defends, but he is the preseason favorite.

2) Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic. He’s not a point guard (we saw that in Summer League) but he is a guy going to get a real opportunity to learn on the job and play a role in the Orlando offense. The question is does he sit a little behind Aaron Afflalo, still he should be able to carve out space to put up numbers, particularly in transition. He could be the best defender of the top rookies.

3) Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings. Yes there was an extended shooting slump during Summer League, and because he’s a rookie there likely will be one during the season. But he remains a good pure shooter on a team where he will get chances to space the floor and finish in transition. Once he gets comfortable he could put up big numbers.

4) Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers. You have to put the No. 1 overall pick on the list. It will be interesting to see how Cleveland uses an undersized four on a team with Anderson Varejao, but he’s got the athleticism to score in the post and he has Irving feeding him the rock. He could find a groove in the offense and put up good numbers.

5) Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte is going to have Al Jefferson setting up camp in the post, which means Zeller is going to have to be a four who can work off the ball, space the floor with a midrange shot, then crash the glass hard when the opportunity presents itself. He showed all those skills in Summer League. How many touches he gets on the court with Jefferson and Kemba Walker remains to be seen, but he could surprise with nice numbers.

Bonus Dark Horse: Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics. He looked fantastic for a stretch in the Orlando Summer League. He is certainly going to get minutes along the Celtics front line and he’s shown a real ability to score. If he can keep doing that against the more athletic men of the NBA he could sneak into the race. It is possible Otto Porter and C.J. McCollum could as well.

  1. timb12 - Aug 9, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Does Anthony Bennett feel like Derrick Williams to anyone else?

  2. ljl2 - Aug 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    I don’t think Varejao (who is a full time center now) is the issue with Bennett. It is probably Tristan Thompson… But hey, have to actually know something about the Cavs.

    • skinsfanwill - Aug 9, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Are we forgetting that Andrew Bynum is the starting center in Cleveland now. Varejeo may eat some minutes in that PF role. This team actually looks pretty good on paper.

      • ljl2 - Aug 10, 2013 at 1:28 AM

        Varejao will be the backup C. Both he and Bynum will be on limited minutes anyways. It is a severe overlook of Thompson and Bennett to think Varejao just takes PF minutes.

      • ljl2 - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:37 AM

        Not forgetting that. Just remembering he hasn’t played in a year and will be on limited minutes.

    • raidmagic - Aug 9, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      I don’t think Varejao sites behind Bynum at backup center so seeing him play the 4 is more than reasonable,
      “but hey, have to actually know something about the Cavs.”

      • ljl2 - Aug 10, 2013 at 1:29 AM

        Varejao hasn’t played PF in over 3 seasons…

      • ljl2 - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:37 AM

        You don’t see it…but that is what everyone who writes about Cavs and has access has pointed to.

  3. dysraw1 - Aug 9, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    depending on how they use this kid, Cody Zeller was the best rook i saw this summer

  4. 00maltliquor - Aug 9, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    ROY race this year is wideTF open as it has ever been. Should be interesting, but we could potentially see a ROY out of the top 8-10 for the 1st time (?). All I know is that in 3 years from know, there are going to be a lot of teams kicking themselves for letting Dennis Schroeder, Rudy Gobert, Archie Goodwin, Ray McCallum, and Jeff Withey slip as far as they did. Jamaal Franklin is a bit of a wild card too.

  5. kvanhorn87 - Aug 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    The question should be which rookies are going to be too good; thus, hurt their teams draft chances at Wiggins or Parker.

  6. hannsta - Aug 9, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I agree with Burke as the favorite. Scorers playing big minutes on weak teams can put up some big numbers.

  7. andyroth1227 - Aug 9, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Why does this guy write about the NBA when he doesn’t even know that Varejo is a center?

  8. kush44 - Aug 9, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Shabazzzzz!!!

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Thanks for making me laugh…

  9. skinsovieterps - Aug 9, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    I guess Otto Porter is out of the question? Writer, you suck.

  10. skinsovieterps - Aug 9, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    I guess Otto Porter is out of the question? Writer, you suck.

  11. robejuan - Aug 10, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    No love for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? The guy is big, shoots the lights out and can defend. He is also the only pure “two,” on the Pistons roster. If he ends up starting this year, you have to include him in the conversation.

  12. tcclark - Aug 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Michael Carter-Williams deserves mention. He’s the guy with the ball in his hands on the worst team in the NBA. He will have more opportunity than just about anyone. He just needs to show that he has the ability to match the opportunity.

  13. sackings916 - Aug 13, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    As a Kings fan here in Sac it would be awesome if McLemore can bring home the ROY award, I don’t think he will though. Hopefully he’ll be a solid pro, he seems like a good kid.

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