Should Win But Won’t: The Trae Young Debate

Momentum for Trae Young to win Rookie of the Year has gone into overdrive since the All-Star Break. He has exhibited not just scoring talent but an ability to pass the ball and run a pro offense. D’Angelo Russell believes there should be co-ROY’s. It has happened before. Steve Francis and Elton Brand (2000). Jason Kidd and Grant Hill (1995). Geoff Petrie and Dave Cowens (1971).

Usually, the player that starts off phenomenal to begin their career is the one who is able to narrowly win the award because they didn’t have to learn on the job before they achieved. They were ready when the lights and cameras said go.  But Trae Young isn’t the only one who will be a runner up. There’s a long list.

Rookie of the Year.

Should Win. Luka Doncic. Luka has been the more consistent rookie. He came into the league shooting 45%. In his seventh game, he scored 31 points, shooting 61%, and against the Spurs. He passed the eye test big time and was a dark horse All-Star candidate. His usage rate the last three months have been 32.4, 34.5, 35.8.  He has (8) 30+ games, (20) 10+ rebound games, and (10) 10+ assist games.  Luka is ranked 12th among small forwards (Real Plus-Minus).

Runner-Up. Trae Young. Young has had to overcome all of the criticism because of his size and the hype that put him in the position of trying to prove he was Steph Curry 1A. After the All-Star break, he has been fire. 25.1 points, 117 Offensive Rating, and 9.3 assists.  He has had a 40+ game and (7) 30+ games. He struggles in the 4th and is only a 33% three point shooter, which was his specialty in college. But after the break, Young is draining 37% of his threes. His Real Plus-Minus rank among point guards is 76.

Most Valuable Player.

Should Win. James Harden.  Harden has been phenomenal as the reigning MVP. Where to start? (9) 50+ point games. (19) 40+ games. 36 points. 8 assists. 118 Offensive Rating. A better defensive rating than Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal and Jimmy Butler. 30.4 PER. 43 ppg in the month of January. He is the number one ranked point guard in the NBA (Real Plus-Minus).  Only Harden and P.J. Tucker have played 70 games. He has been everything for the Rockets.

Runner-Up. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is the best player on the best team. He does everything well except make threes. 27 points and 12 rebounds is dominant. 121 Offensive Rating and 99 Defensive Rating is going to make the MVP race super close. He’s been better after the All-Star break, 28 points, 12 rebounds, 124 Offensive Rating and Giannis is making 59% of his fourth quarter shots. But Giannis didn’t have to carry his team because of injuries. He only scores on 30% of his jumpers. But he has a 50 point game and (4) 40 point games and a 20 rebound game. 13 games he had at least 3 blocks. He is the number one ranked power forward (Real Plus-Minus).

Most Improved.

Should Win. D’Angelo Russell. D-Lo is finally living up to the hype. D’Angelo was always a good player but he wasn’t a consistent player and he lacked leadership skills. When Caris Levert went down with an injury, D’Angelo showed his leadership and stepped up. Is it a surprise this is a comeback year for D’Angelo? A year after not playing 50 games, he has played 70 games. He’s averaging 20 points and 7 assists with a 19.2 PER. He has been better after the All-Star break as the Nets are desperately trying to make the playoffs. Russell is racking up 23 points and 8 assists. He was amazing in Sacramento scoring 27 points in the 4th quarter to bring the Nets back from a 20 point deficit. He is the 19th ranked point guard (Real Plus-Minus).

Runner Up. Pascal Siakam. Last year, Pascal played 81 games and averaged 7 points. This year he will play the same amount of games but is averaging 17 points while increasing his 3-point shooting from 22% to 35%. His Offensive Rating is 120. His Defensive Rating is 107. After the All-Star break, he has been fire with nearly 20 points a game and a +/- of 11.6. In the 4th quarter, he is shooting 58% and 57% from three. His athleticism makes him difficult to guard and a perfect third option for the Raptors. He is the 4th ranked power forward (Real Plus-Minus).