We’ve almost reached the half-point of the season, meaning the NBA Rookie of the Year race 2023 should be at its peak right now.

The young guys are getting more comfortable in the league, which translates to more playing time and more highlights.

NBA Rookie of the Year race 2023

Some guys need more time to adjust to the burdens and demands of being an NBA player, both physically and mentally. So, even though some of the guys we thought were going to make an immediate impact haven’t lived up to the hype, it’s still too early to deem them as busts.

On the flip side, there are also players who have been far more impressive than we thought they’d be. They’ve dominated and have handled themselves like true professionals and veterans despite not having even one season under their belts. Today, we’ll honor them by letting you know about the top 10 NBA ROY candidates.

10. Walker Kessler

As you may know by now, not many award winners have taken this trophy home thanks to their defense. But we have to give credit where it’s due, and Walker Kessler has the potential to be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

    

The Utah Jazz swapped one elite rim protector with another one. Kessler makes his presence felt in the restricted area, holding his own against bigger and stronger opposition. He may not be much of an offensive factor, but he could be the second coming of Mark Eaton.

9. Jalen Duren

Even in college, it was clear that Jalen Duren was going to thrive in the NBA. His strong frame and athleticism help him gain and maintain position over his rivals, and he’s already shown that he can clean the offensive glass thanks to his timing.

Duren is an old-school big man, so his upside in today’s game is limited. But he can make game-changing plays on the defensive end of the floor and then finish in transition as a rim-runner. It’s a matter of time before he becomes a starter for the Detroit Pistons.

8. Shaedon Sharpe

Some experts in NBA betting explained were unsure how much value they saw in Shaedon Sharpe before the start of the season. That’s because he barely played before making it to the NBA, but his raw potential was so intriguing and impressive that he could mess around and take home the award.

While that hasn’t been the case thus far, the Portland Trail Blazers have thrown him on the fire right away, and he’s delivered in a big way. Sharpe has shown glimpses of greatness, and he just needs to bulk up. Once the game slows down for him, it’s over.

    

7. Andrew Nembhard

People didn’t really talk about him that much, but Andrew Nembhard is rapidly making a name for himself in the Association. Starting, coming off the bench, running the offense, or playing off the ball, he’s been a synonym for efficiency.

Nembhard isn’t an athletic freak by any means or a guy who’ll beat you off the dribble with his feet. But he’s a savvy and intelligent player who rarely makes mistakes and often makes winning plays. He might well be one of the best passers in his class.

6. Keegan Murray

Keegan Murray‘s NBA career has gotten off to a somewhat slow start, all things considered. He hasn’t been the lights-out shooter the Sacramento Kings thought he’d be right out of the gate, but the potential and upside are most definitely there.

Murray can get hot in the blink of an eye, and his ability to knock down shots from all three levels keeps defenses honest when he’s on the floor. He’s a solid rebounder, a willing passer, and a guy who just needs more time to blossom.

5. Tari Eason

Tari Eason was one of the most intriguing picks of this year’s class. Some scouts agreed that he had the potential to be the best defender in his class, and he’s definitely shown that during his first year with the Houston Rockets, especially on the perimeter.

Eason can play lockdown defense and guard one through five, even despite still being quite skinny. He needs to improve as a finisher, especially in transition, but he could have a long and successful career as a 3-and-D player.

4. Jabari Smith Jr.

Some thought Jabari Smith Jr. was a lock to be the first-overall pick in the Draft. And while that didn’t happen, he’s still got superstar potential. Unfortunately, it seems like the Houston Rockets have yet to figure out the best way to use him.

Smith can shoot like the best of them, is a solid rim protector, and can dominate both ends of the glass. His handles and decision-making need to improve, but he also needs a true point guard who can help him get to his spots and use his skills to his advantage.

3. Jaden Ivey

Jaden Ivey was a polarizing player. His erratic decision-making and inefficient shooting were red flags to some scouts, but he’s made sure to put his doubters at ease thus far this season. If anything, he looks sharper and more NBA-ready than we thought.

Ivey is an athletic freak who doesn’t need a lot of time, space, or dribbles to go coast-to-coast. He can push up the pace on every single possession, and the Detroit Pistons will have an explosive backcourt for years to come once Cunningham comes back.

2. Paolo Banchero

Even though he missed some time with an injury, Paolo Banchero continues to sit near the top of the Rookie of the Year ladder, and for very good reasons.

He’s breaking all kinds of rookie marks, sitting at the same table with the likes of Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Shaquille O’Neal.

The Orlando Magic have been terrible this season, but fans should still be quite excited for the future as long as Banchero is there. He’s the best passer on the team, and the game just comes naturally to him, as he can put up points against the best defenders on Earth as if it was just another scrimmage.

1. Bennedict Mathurin

Once again, Indiana Pacers young man Bennedict Mathurin is leading the NBA Rookie of the Year race in 2023. This guy has made a fool out of NBA veterans, and his ability to score seems unmatched among the players in his class, not to mention his confidence is always at an all-time high.

Mathurin has a green light to pull up from all three levels, and it will always look like a good shot. He claimed that every rival, even LeBron James, would have to prove that they were better than him. And so far, he’s definitely put his money where his mouth is. Even if Banchero keeps things up, we still think Mathurin will take the trophy home this season.

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