Coming into 2015, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were thought to be the lone candidates for the Rookie of the Year award, the respective top two picks during the 2014 draft. Parker tore his ACL 25 games into his debut season, thus, removing him from the race. Wiggins, drafted by the Cavaliers and dealt to the Timberwolves in the Kevin Love trade, has had the clear green light to take all the shots he wants, thus, giving him the stats.
However, Nerlens Noel, a 2013 draftee who missed his entire first season, is still considered a rookie and is averaging right around two steals and blocks a night for the turmoil filled 76ers squad, while Nikola Mirotic is balling for the Chicago Bulls, aiding them stay atop the Eastern Conference, despite injury concerns to Derrick Rose, who seemingly hasn't played in ages.
Thankfully, determining the All-Rookie team doesn't come down to picking between these three, as five spots are available for the first and second teams. Still, snubs will exist as they are impossible to avoid. Let's go down and check out my picks for the team.
CENTER: Nerlens Noel from the Philadelpha 76ers Noel has been absolutely spectacular for the 76ers, namely after they dealt Michael Carter-Williams away, in a deal where they may possibly snag a pick in the 6-8 range during the 2015 draft. For the season, Noel is averaging a respectable 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds with 1.8 steals and 1.9 blocks per night while playing 30.8 minutes a night. Since the All-Star break, his numbers have increased to 13.9 points, 10.4 rebounds with 2.3 steals and 2.4 blocks per evening. On six occasions, Noel has blocked over five shots, while stealing over five on four occasions. His offense leaves a lot to be desired, but with work put in, there is no doubt he can climb his way to be one of the top two way players in the entire association.
FORWARD: Andrew Wiggins from the Minnesota Timberwolves The top pick of the 2014 draft has cemented himself as a first team player. Front runner for the Rookie of the Year award, Wiggins is averaging 16.4 a night, with some big games on the schedule, scoring over 30 on four occasions, including against the team that drafted and traded him away. Granted, the Wolves are 1-3 during that stretch, not much more can be expected from a side that has made it clear it is looking to rebuild. Bringing back Kevin Garnett will do wonders for the mentality of Wiggins.
FORWARD: Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls At 24, Mirotic is older than most rookies may be, but has been stepping up big for the Bulls as they look to upset the East and meet the Western champions for the NBA title. Averaging a tick under 10 for the season, Mirotic also chips in with five rebounds a night in a tick under 20 minutes. Having scored over 20 points on 10 occasions and has stepped up his game since the break. Averages of 16.8 points, 6.8 boards in 26.8 minutes a night keeps the Montenegrin born Spanish international in the race.
GUARD: Elfrid Payton from the Orlando Magic Orlando deserved a mulligan after drafting Aaron Gordon with the fourth overall selection, and they got the redemption with Elf at the 11th slot. A defensive minded, pass first player, Payton comes in the Rondo mold, though, may end up as more of an offensive threat, while still providing stout defense. Averaging 8.9/4.3/6.4 with 1.6 steals and only 2.5 turnovers per outing, in 29.9 minutes, Payton is doing well to run the mediocre Magic team.
GUARD: Jordan Clarkson from the Los Angeles Lakers A franchise known for winning, the Lakers are in a major rebuilding stage and Clarkson has been a major silver lining in an otherwise lost season. Losing Julius Randle, the sides seventh overall pick, just a dozen minutes into his professional career, followed by Bryant with another injury plauged year, the race for a top five pick has been underway, as otherwise, the Philadelphia 76ers will snag the selection. Clarkson has started 32 of the 53 games he has appeared in, averaging 11.2/3.2/3.2 while connecting on 45.3% from the field. Averaging 21.9 over the last seven, while hitting 55.1% from the field is just spectacular.