Every year NBA.com conducts a rookie survey in which they ask the incoming class of players a handful of questions ranging from “Who will be the 2016-17 Kia Rookie of the Year?” to “Which rookie is the funniest?”
Wolves rookie point guard Kris Dunn certainly has the respect of his peers. He was voted as the most likely to win Rookie of the Year, the best defender, the best playmaker, and the funniest guy too. Some might refer to all of this as “mad respect.”
But where’s the love for Ben Simmons? What do the incoming rookies know that we don’t? It seems obvious to me that the Australian point forward is going to run the show in Philadelphia all season long and clearly has the inside track when it comes to Rookie of the Year. There’s also Joel Embiid and Dario Saric on that same Sixers team, both of whom seem poised for major roles in year one.
Nevertheless, 29 percent of the rooks voted for Dunn to walk away with the ROY hardware when it’s all said and done. Number two overall pick, Brandon Ingram, received 25.8 percent of the votes (38 players were surveyed at the annual Rookie Photo Shoot) while Simmons, the No. 1 pick, came in third at 19.4 percent. The rookies felt like Dunn is in the best position to follow in the footsteps of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns and bring the Wolves their third straight Rookie of the Year award. Where’s the tundra tax on all this hardware?
Now what does this really mean? Well, not much at all besides Dunn’s fellow rookies have serious respect for his game. You might remember that Jahlil Okafor also finished first in ROY voting in this same survey last season—he received 41.9 percent of the votes—and, well, we all know who ran away with the award for best first-year player.
The love for Dunn was deep in this survey but perhaps the rookies don’t all understand what exactly his role in Minneapolis in year one is going to be.
The way it’s currently set up is for Dunn to be one of the first players off the bench, perhaps even the sixth man, and it seems unlikely that he’s going to see more than 25 minutes per game with Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine in the picture as well. Simmons is going to log major minutes and have the rock in his hands more than any rookie, period. Brett Brown is going to let him do whatever he wants in transition and lean on him heavily right away to stuff the stat sheet.
The same cannot be said about Dunn. This isn’t meant to put him down in any way—he’s clearly one of the best players in the class and he’s more NBA ready than most—but if we’re legitimately talking about who is going to win Rookie of the Year the conversation needs to center around situation, opportunity, and role. Simmons has the edge in all of those areas, though the rest of the rookies felt a little bit differently.
Now to little surprise, Dunn was voted the best defender in the incoming class with 23.5 percent of the votes, edging out The Glove Jr., Gary Payton II (20.6 percent). Dunn was also voted the best playmaker, beating out Simmons again, and the funniest rook as well, which should bring some great moments this upcoming season in Minneapolis.
The full survey is published here by John Schuhmann if you care to see all of the questions that were asked. Sure, it’s only a survey and the entire thing doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but many onlookers believe Kris Dunn is the next big thing at point guard and his peers agree. That’s enough to make this blogger thrilled to see what’s in store.