Every year, the NBA sees a fresh batch of new talent joining the league from the college ranks or international leagues. Among these rookies are players who quickly establish themselves as standout performers and end up being in contention for the NBA Rookie of the Year award.
For the 2021-22 NBA season, several rookies have already shown that they have the potential to make a significant impact on their respective teams and the league as a whole. Here are some of the standout contenders for the Rookie of the Year award.
Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
Jalen Green was the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, and he has already shown why the Rockets had such high hopes for him. In his first five games, Green is averaging 16.4 points per game, while shooting 43.2% from the field. He has demonstrated excellent scoring ability, shooting from beyond the arc, and has already earned a reputation as a highlight reel dunker.
Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Cade Cunningham was the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, and he arrived in Detroit with a massive hype and expectation. Although he hasn’t played yet, Cunningham is widely regarded as one of the most complete players in this year’s draft class. The guard is an excellent ball-handler, a smart passer, and a versatile scorer. Once he takes the court, he will be exciting to watch.
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers
Evan Mobley has been called one of the most talented players in the entire 2021 draft class. He is a power forward/center with a unique skill set, including his ability to protect the rim, switch effortlessly on defense, and score inside the paint. In his first five games, Mobley has already put up a double-double, and he seems to be adjusting quickly to the NBA pace.
Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
Scottie Barnes is another player on this list who can impact the game in many ways. He is a ball-handler, a lockdown defender on the perimeter, and a capable scorer. The forward has the potential to become a versatile player for the Raptors, and he has already shown progress in his offensive game. In his first five games, Barnes is averaging 16.6 points per game, which bodes well for the Raptors.
Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers
Chris Duarte may not have been a lottery pick, but he has shown that he can hold his own against top draft picks. He has a complete offensive game, and in his first four games, Duarte has averaged 13.3 points per game on 50% shooting. He is also contributing on defense, pulling in 1.8 steals per game, and has shown that he can handle the ball.
The NBA season is just beginning, and there is plenty of basketball left to play. However, the rookies mentioned above have already made their mark and are looking like serious candidates for the Rookie of the Year award. As the season progresses, it will be exciting to see how these players continue to develop and contribute to their respective teams.