Two weeks ago we looked at the Rookie of the Year race after a month plus of action. Back then the Utah Jazz had a player almost playing 20 mpg. The funny point is that player was Joe Ingles, not Dante Exum. Things have changed, and Dante is now creeping up on the Top 10 players.Out of the 60 players drafted last June, and the 21 undrafted rookies, I had to pick the most major players to cover. While I did input everyone's stats into the spreadsheet, only the players who are averaging 14.0+ mpg are worth tracking right now.
And here they are (sorted from most to least minutes).
Minutes are really the only thing you need in order to make a splash. The more minutes the greater the opportunity. And the more opportunity, the more stats. And the more stats, sadly, the more recognition you get. And that recognition helps make you a star player. The Jazz have been without one for a while now, and need one. Gordon Hayward could be one, but coming into the draft the Jazz felt like they had to get a player who had that potential.
Andrew Wiggins and Nerlens Noel look to be the front runner for the ROY award this season after Jabari Parker was recently shelved with a season ending injury. That sucks, but it was running away with the award. Beyond the ROY race there are the 10 spots for All-Rookie 1st and 2nd team to worry about. Exum has a chance to crack it, but he's going to have to be a more effective player on the court in terms of his box score production.
Of course, there are other players looking to crack to Rookie Top 10, like the not listed players: James Ennis, Kyle Anderson, Doug McDermott, and Joe Harris. They are getting some time, and playing well for a playoff team can help make you look better than you actually are.
I don't remember if last season's Rookie teams were just players on lotto teams, but that's not a knock on a player for the ROY award. Michael Carter-Williams won last season, fending off Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke. All three players have a younger teammate in the running this season as well.
But back to Dante . . . I like to think he's one of the best PGs in this class, however, in terms of getting on the floor he's behind Zach LaVine, Elfrid Payton, and Shabazz Napier. If Rajon Rondo is traded I would expect Marcus Smart to get more playing time too. It's important for me that guys like Dante are one of the best players at their position. The draft is something the Jazz can't mess up with. But right now we're playing the long game, while some of these other teams are playing for today.
I have faith in the Utah Jazz scouting process, and their drafting process. And I have faith in Dante Exum. And watching him play more and more minutes makes me comfortable with the idea that he's going to end this season as a Top 10 rookie.