When we talk about NBA rookies 2021/22, it’s clear that there’s a big gap in talent. Some players have superstar potential, some look like solid role players, and some have big question marks.
This year’s rookie class isn’t like the ones we saw the past couple of years. Outside of the Top 3, not many players look like generational talents. But as you may know by now, sometimes the best players slide on the board, sometimes even to the second round.
Not always the best NBA rookies are the first to come off the board. Drafting is far from an exact science, and more often than not scouts look foolish a couple of years after the draft. This season might as well not be the exception to that rule.
Best NBA rookies 2021/22
So, now that we’re looking ahead to the upcoming season and putting together our NBA award predictions, let’s take a look at the NBA rookie of the Year race. Even though there won’t be as many clear-cut candidates as in previous seasons, the best NBA rookies of this class will still put on a show from the start.
3. Jalen Suggs
Even though Jalen Suggs fell outside of the top 3, he’s got one of the highest upsides in this year’s class. Suggs boasts plenty of experience with Team USA’s youth teams and scouts were enamored with his playmaking and defensive skills.
The standout guard out of Gonzaga will play in an Orlando Magic team with a bit of a logjam in his position. Nonetheless, he’s already better – and more NBA-ready – than any of his rivals for playing time. He’s got top-notch basketball IQ and enough size to guard multiple positions, and he’s an underrated shooter.
The Magic already had Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and RJ Hampton as their young backcourt. But most of those players still have plenty of question marks. So, don’t sleep on Suggs and his stat-sheet stuffing skills.
2. Cade Cunningham
The first-overall pick of the draft comes with plenty of expectations and hype, and Cade Cunningham isn’t the exception to that rule. Cunningham might as well be the most round-up prospect to enter the league in years, and looks like a superstar in the making.
Cunningham will lead the NBA Rookie of the Year race from the start. He can rebound like a big man, pass like a point guard, and score efficiently from all three levels. Also, the Detroit Pistons will hand him the keys of the offense right away.
But there’s a chance that Cunningham’s intelligence can take a toll on his chances to win this award. He’s unselfish and rarely makes mistakes, but his willingness to share the rock could hamper his scoring averages. And, the NBA being a scorer’s league, his points-per-game average may not be as impressive as a rookie.
1. Jalen Green
Not so long ago, Jalen Green was touted as the best recruit in the world. He was the first top-tier prospect to forgo college and join the NBA G-League’s Ignite Team, paving the way for many more to come in the following years.
That decision didn’t hurt his draft stock the slightest. On the contrary, he got the chance to train with real pros.
Green is the best scorer in this class and it’s not even close. And scoring skills are always something to factor when putting together NBA award predictions. Although he may not always shoot 50% from the floor, this young man will be in line for multiple 30+ point games next season.
The Houston Rockets aren’t going to make the playoffs any time soon and will focus solely on player development next season. That means that Jalen Green will have the green light to take as many shots as he can handle, making him the favorite to win the NBA Rookie of the Year race.