NBA Rookie of the Year 2014: Is Michael Carter-Williams really winning this award?


It may not be who you think it is . . .

Back in November the Rookie of the Year race was already over, as the Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams was already crowned king. He's had a good season so far if you care about stats, however his team is currently on a losing streak that is longer than all of the wins his team has this season by 10 games. At this stage you call those statistics hollow. Down in Florida the preseason guess was that the Orlando Magic 's guard Victor Oladipo was the most ready to contribute and play at the NBA level. He dominated the Summer league and has been steady all season long. Out in Skyrim, er, I mean Utah, the Jazz have high hopes for their point guard Trey Burke. You may remember him from outplaying Victor 1 on 1 in Orlando, and hitting the game winner against Orlando in Utah. He's also 2-0 against Philly, but that's not even something to be proud of this season. It's not just a three player race this season, and the race is far from over. There are a few more weeks left for players to put their stamp on their rookie campaigns.

Which one will wear the crown at the end of the awards season?

The Top 15:

These guys will make the rookie teams in some order. And, because there are only two rookie teams made up of five players each, five of these guys will be left out. It's not limited to position either, so, you can figure it out for yourself. I will point out that there are five rookies who are playing more than half the game (24.0+ mpg), five rookies playing at least 20.0 mpg but not more than half. And there are five more rookies after that who are playing over 15.0 mpg. It's neat how that worked out -- I guess only Andy Larsen would care though, besides me.

1 Michael Carter-Williams PHI 59 34.9 16.7 6.1 6.2 1.7 1.9 0.6 31.5 0.90 14.5 26.0% 29.6% 9.3% 0.2
2 Victor Oladipo ORL 70 32.0 14.0 4.3 4.2 1.3 1.6 0.5 24.7 0.77 13.5 24.1% 21.9% 7.6% 1.3
3 Trey Burke UTA 59 31.5 12.8 3.1 5.3 2.9 0.6 0.1 21.8 0.69 12.8 22.2% 28.4% 5.5% 0.9
4 Ben McLemore SAC 70 24.9 7.9 2.8 0.9 0.8 0.6 0.2 12.4 0.50 7.1 16.8% 5.7% 6.5% 0.3
5 Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL 66 24.3 7.0 4.4 2.0 1.3 0.7 0.8 14.8 0.61 11.2 15.2% 12.4% 10.3% 1.3
6 Tim Hardaway Jr. NYK 70 23.0 10.1 1.6 0.8 1.3 0.5 0.1 13.1 0.57 12.8 19.5% 5.9% 4.0% 2.6
7 Nate Wolters MIL 58 22.6 7.2 2.6 3.2 3.2 0.6 0.3 13.8 0.61 12.8 16.8% 23.4% 6.5% 1.2
8 Hollis Thompson PHI 66 22.2 5.8 3.2 0.9 1.2 0.7 0.1 10.7 0.48 9.3 11.3% 5.8% 7.8% 1.5
9 Ryan Kelly LAL 47 21.0 7.7 3.4 1.4 2.1 0.5 0.7 13.7 0.65 13.4 15.2% 10.1% 8.6% 2.1
10 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope DET 68 20.1 5.8 1.9 0.7 1.9 1.0 0.1 9.5 0.47 9.1 13.6% 5.3% 5.3% 1.6
11 Kelly Olynyk BOS 58 19.2 7.6 5.0 1.5 1.1 0.5 0.4 15.1 0.78 13.9 20.2% 13.2% 14.6% 2.1
12 Pero Antic ATL 40 18.1 7.1 4.0 1.2 1.1 0.4 0.3 12.9 0.71 12.3 18.4% 10.4% 12.8% 1.2
13 Tony Snell CHI 65 17.6 4.9 1.8 1.0 1.6 0.4 0.2 8.3 0.47 7.7 15.0% 9.6% 5.7% 1.4
14 Nick Calathes MEM 59 17.0 4.9 1.9 3.1 2.2 0.9 0.1 10.9 0.64 12.3 17.0% 27.3% 6.8% 1.4
15 Mason Plumlee BKN 57 16.9 6.7 4.0 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.7 12.8 0.75 18.0 17.1% 5.9% 14.1% 3.3

Players 11-15:

Mason and Kelly really kick butt, but don't play a lot. They have two of the top four Win shares this season out of this batch, and two of the top three highest PER scores. Bigmen who rebound and pass can easily do well there, and they do. Pero (aka. Macedonian Carlos Boozer) has had a solid season, but he's not going to be recognized as having one. Tony Snell kicked butt on Day 1 of the NBA Draft combine, and has used that platform to get drafted. And he has made the most of this season playing for a good team heading for the playoffs. Nick is a good passer, and few people saw that. Ultimately, none of these guys are ROY material -- though I will admit I thought Kelly would have had a bigger season. He dominated summer league and looked like a can't miss guy for Boston. Time will prove that he has a legit career though.

Players 6-10:

Big market player Hardaway will get a lot of votes. He's excellent from downtown and scores in double digits for the Knicks. Sometimes that's all it takes to steals votes away from more legit candidates. Nate has quietly tolled all season long in the frozen wastes of Milwaukee, and has the best assist to turn over ratio in a draft chock full of lead guards. That is impressive and notable. Hollis, Ryan, and Kenvavious play more minutes per game, but are appreciably worse than some of the players in the lower category. Ken has been up and down like most rookies, and Ryan got a big boost playing for the Lakers. But I haven't been sufficiently impressed by any of them.

Players 1-5:

Ben plays a lot, but doesn't excel anywhere right now. I guess it's hard to when you play with DeMarcus Cousins. Giannis has been a delight to watch and the teen is only going to get better and better as he learns to play with Larry Sanders and John Henson. Teams will hate going up against them. And this brings us to the three dudes listed at the top. Michael, Victor, and Trey are the only guys playing over 30.0 mpg this season as rookies. They're the only three with BARPS scores (blocks + assists + rebounds + points + steals) that are above 20.0 per game. They are also the only three of this group who have USG% and AST% that are both higher than 20.0%. They are at the top of this class.

They all are playing on teams that have lost a lot of games. In fact, the Bucks, Sixers, Magic, Jazz, and Kings all could be the worst five teams in the season by win/loss record this year. And this group of best ROY candidates all play on those teams. Win shares are scarce. If any one of them played for a team sniffing 30 wins they would be ROY. As a result, there is no obvious clear 'winner'. (You kind of have to win games to be called a winner, right?)

Michael dominates the stats and plays the most, but his team is the worst of the three. He has dazzled at times with triple doubles. Victor can take over games and has athletic abilities we rarely seen from someone his size. And Trey, well, Trey looks to be the best leader of the bench, and could be the best pro. He is the most clutch, and the Jazz have the most wins our of their three respective teams -- but that's not saying much, it's #2, #3, and #4 in the tankings.

I don't know who should win. I have a felling that MCW will win the award. But I'm not certain that he's the best player in this rookie class. My preseason prediction was that it would go to Trey. I hope it still does. If he finishes the season on a tear he will have a fighter's chance.

And Trey is a fighter.

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