The NBA play-offs are reaching a climax but before the champions are crowned, NBA fans are already looking back over the 2017-18 season and putting together lists of the top players. One of the most hotly contested categories is Rookie of the Year. So which new stars made the biggest impact this season? Here is our guide to the top four.
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia
There may not be all that much room for debate about the season’s best rookie. Ben Simmons, a defensive titan whose versatility has been as impressive as his statistical contributions, has been a phenomenal addition to the NBA. Defending both guard spots and both forward spots, he rebounded around 20 percent of missed shots, and averaged at least two steals per 100 team plays, one of only 16 NBA players to do so.
In an NBA era when it is rare for rookies to make an immediate impact, Simmons has stamped his name on the competition and is going to be a huge part of this Philadelphia team as they drive The Process forward. His presence next season is going to be a major factor for fans weighing up whether to bet on the Sixers at www.stakers.com in 2018-19.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah
He may be edged out by Simmons in most rookie lists, but Mitchell has had a great year. Like Simmons, he had an immediate impact, helping Utah to rebuild and driving them towards the play-offs. That’s an almost unheard-of contribution from a rookie. If it wasn’t for Simmons, Mitchell would take the prize by a distance and if Utah can find him more support, we could be seeing him take this team even further next year.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento
Bogdanovic has made an immediate impression at Sacramento. It’s rare for a rookie to be a franchise player, but he has pulled it off with a versatile debut season in which he has averaged 15/4/4 per 36 minutes. He can move the ball, take the shot, create opportunities and play solid defense on the wing, and his all-round play has stood out at the Kings.
OG Anunoby, Toronto
OG hasn’t grabbed the headlines, but he’s the underrated member of the 2017 Draft class. He has gone straight into a dominant Toronto side and improved it, which is quite something for a rookie. Able to sink clutch threes and play intense defense, if the Raptors are going to come back and break their LeBron jinx next season, OG will be a huge part of it.
Making NBA predictions is a risky business, but the depth of talent in this year’s rookie cohort has been seriously impressive, and in the likes of Simmons, Mitchell, OG and Bogdanovic, we could be looking at future legends. Based on what we’ve seen from the class of 2017 this season, they could prove even more spectacular next time round.