Rookie of the Year
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves – This is (still) an easy pick. Wiggins is leading all rookies in minutes (35.0 per game), which certainly helps, but he is comfortably the most impressive athlete in his class, with rapidly improving production to boot. At 20 years old, he is already a capable and willing defender, his offensive game is more polished than you realize, and with a respectable 34% shooting from beyond the arc, there are signs of a superstar arsenal. Picking anyone else would be a fantastic example of getting too cute.
Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls – If Mirotic was a full-time player for the entire season, this might be a race. The 24-year-old forward is averaging 21.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in March (5 games), and since the All-Star break, Mirotic is putting up 14.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 10 contests. The season-long tally leans heavily in Wiggins’ favor, but Mirotic actually owns the better PER by a considerable margin, and he has been impressive in his debut with the Bulls.
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers – Noel is coming on in a big way. He is already the best rim protector in this “class” (Noel was drafted in 2013 before sitting out a season due to injury), but his overall performance has improved vastly, culminating in averages of 11.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game in Philadelphia’s last 10 contests. The former Kentucky big man has a long journey ahead offensively (44.4% shooting this season), but he continues to improve and the Sixers have a strong long-term asset.
Next: Most Valuable Player