Who deserves the coveted Rookie of the Year for the 2019-2020 season? I’ve been contemplating this year’s contenders all summer, into the preseason and regular season play, and after nearly a month of regular season play, I am ready to cement my choice of contenders.
Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish have fallen away from the pack. Williamson has been hurt and has yet to debut for the New Orleans Pelicans, while Reddish has been underwhelming on the Atlanta Hawks.
The Miami Heat have two possible Rookie of the Year contenders on their squad this year in Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. Herro, a guard drafted from the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round 13th-overall has posted an average of 13.3 points with a 43.6-percent field goal percentage, 37.5-percent on three-point shots and an 86.7-percent free throw percentage. Ine of his more notable moments came when he scored for 29 points in the Oct. 29 matchup between Miami and Atlanta, the most by a Heat rookie since Dwyane Wade.
Tyler Herro went off for 29 pts, the most by a Heat rookie since @DwyaneWade in 2004. pic.twitter.com/dG9lzQtOmt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 30, 2019
Nunn, an undrafted walk-on guard from Oakland University has proven to be a huge asset to the Heat, scoring an average of 17.8 points with a 47.2-percent field goal percentage, a 38.4% three-point average, and an exceptional 84.2% free throw average. Included in Nunn’s points are 12 dunks, 35 layups, and 48 jump shots. Nunn’s notable moment so far this season came on Oct. 27 when he led the Heat with 25 points, hitting nine of 17 shots from the floor.
Ja Morant, the No. 2-overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies has been a favored contender since the draft, but he has continued to prove why he should be a contender so far in the regular season. Morant has scored an average of 18.4 points per game with an average of six assists and just slightly over three rebounds on his first season thus far.
Morant has many notable moments so far in his new career, but one of the greatest highlights was on Nov. 13 with his first double-double and game-winner of his career against the Charlotte Hornets.
Ja Morant with the first double-double and game winner of his career!
23 PTS (10-15 FG) | 11 ASTpic.twitter.com/2bY4wqVv9q
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 14, 2019
Although I started my mental list with three Duke alumni players, only one made the final cut of contenders, RJ Barrett. The Knicks’ third-overall pick has averaged 15.8 points per game with a 41.2-percent shooting percentage, 35.6-percent on three-point shots and the lowest free throw percentage of all of the contenders with 48.6-percent.
Barrett’s play has so far been highlighted with many stellar plays, but a recent highlight came despite the Knicks’ loss to the Chicago Bulls when Barrett obtained his career-high in assists and posted his first game with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
RJ Barrett tonight:
50% FG (8-16)
50% 3P (2-4)
• Career high in assists. Previous high was 8.
• First game with 20-5-5. pic.twitter.com/oDZh8KJsrN
— Sports Fellas (@TheSportsFellas) November 13, 2019
Last but not least is UNC’s Coby White, the No. 7 overall pick who went to the Chicago Bulls. Although White’s points per game average is lower than the rest of the contenders, one must consider his versatility and ability to make a variety of shots, especially three-point shots in clutch moments. White’s field goal percentage is 36-percent, he’s 30.1-percent from beyond the arc, and he has a 75.9-percent free-throw percentage before Monday’s game against the Bucks.
White is making news by being the sixth rookie to have consecutive 25-point games off of the bench and also became the youngest player in history to hit seven three-point shots in a game, then hit six more the next night.
On Tuesday, @CobyWhite became the youngest player in NBA history to hit 7 threes in a game. Last night, he hit six more. pic.twitter.com/DJzdvti7O4
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) November 15, 2019
There are many talented rookies who entered the league this season, and it is a monumental task to pick a handful of contenders out of the pool of talent, but these players stand out from the rest because of the roles they have played in their teams’ overall success this season, and the way they have smoothly transitioned from collegiate to professional play.
It will be interesting to see if my picks remain the same midseason, and how they pan out at the end of the season. Who would you add to the list or take off of the list if you made your own list of five contenders?
*All stats are as of November 17, 2019