The NBA’s Rookie of the Year award is arguably one of the league’s most prestigious awards. It is a way for some of the league’s top young players to solidify themselves and prove they are here to stay. Throughout the years, fans have seen players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant win Rookie of the Year, and they’ve accomplished great things ever since.
And this year’s race has players that can do the same. Here are three potential Rookie of the Year candidates.
1.) Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero was the first pick of the 2022 NBA Draft. He attended Duke University for a season, and averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He also won Rookie of the Year of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). And during his short time in the NBA, he is already making an impact.
Banchero averages 21.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He has also managed to make history, as he became the first player since LeBron James to put up at least 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists in an NBA debut. He finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists in a loss against the Detroit Pistons. Shortly after, Banchero became the second teenager in NBA history to put up at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game (the first being James again).
Banchero looks like a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, and at this rate, he will be a player to keep an eye on for years to come.
2.) Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
Bennedict Mathurin was the sixth pick of the 2022 NBA Draft. He attended the University of Arizona for two seasons, with his second season being his best. Mathurin averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. His NBA career is off to a good start, as he averages 17.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Mathurin received media attention before the draft when he made a bold statement. When speaking of LeBron James, he said something interesting.
“A lot of people say he’s great. I want to see how great he is. I don’t think anybody is better than me. He’s going to have to show me he’s better than me.”
The Pacers took on the Lakers towards the end of November, and beat them 116-115. Andrew Nembhard, a fellow rookie, hit a game winner to beat the Lakers in Los Angeles. Mathurin finished this game with 23 points and eight rebounds. And after playing against James, he called it an honor.
“Well, pretty much it was great. It was an honor for me and my team. First time playing against LeBron James. Like I said before, not a lot of people get the chance to play against one of the greatest of all time. I feel like it was a great opportunity for me to pretty much see how he is and how he looks. I feel like he looks a little bigger in real life, but it was for sure a great night.” Mathurin said to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Mathurin is making a name for himself, and after winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, he should be in the running for Rookie of the Year.
3.) Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
Jaden Ivey was the fifth pick of the 2022 draft. He was selected by the Detroit Pistons. He played for the Purdue Boilermakers in college, where he averaged 17.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in his second year. Ivey is an athletic guard who received comparisons to Ja Morant coming into the draft.
Ivey is averaging 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists this season, and despite recent shooting struggles, he is an exceptionally talented player.
Ivey remains one of the top rookies this year, and he belongs in the Rookie of the Year race.