PBT Roundtable: Who will win Rookie of the Year?

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Welcome to PBT’s regular roundtable on issues around the NBA, where our writers weigh in on the topic of the day.

Today: Who will win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award?

Kurt Helin: There’s a formula to this — you need a guy with the ball in his hand on a bad team that is going to ask him to make plays and put up numbers. Damian Lillard did that last season, and seven of the last eight ROY winners fit that formula (Blake Griffin being the exception). The guy that fits the mold for me this year is Trey Burke in Utah. He is going to be the starting point guard for a bad Jazz team that will need him to make plays. And we saw from his time at Michigan he can make some plays. Utah could use a win here too — it will be about the lone piece of good news out of their season.

Brett Pollakoff: I agree on the formula part, but am going with a more conventional choice. Victor Oladipo in Orlando is skilled enough, and will have plenty of opportunity with the ball in his hands playing both guard positions. He should have no trouble putting up numbers immediately in the Magic’s system, whether points or assists.

Burke is a solid choice, though Im not convinced Tyrone Corbin (coaching without a net, by the way) will let him go as unchecked as Lillard was allowed to in Portland last season — especially without the same skills as a floor general that Lillard possesses.

DJ Foster: Kurt, you’re right about the formula. On top of that, no player selected outside of the top-10 has won the award since Mark Jackson (he’s a coach now! We’re all so old!) did it way back in 1988. So if we stick with guards taken in the top-10, Trey Burke is the most logical choice. C.J. McCollum is hurt, Michael Carter-Williams will play on a team only people in hostage situations should watch, and Victor Oladipo’s contributions won’t pop out on a losing team. It’s Burke’s award to lose, in my mind.

Darius Soriano: Not only do I agree with Kurt’s formula, I also agree with the rest of the group that Burke and Oladipo are the frontrunners to win the award. If I had to choose between those two, I’d go with Burke simply because I think Oladipo will be competing for shots with too many other wings in Orlando for much of this season. Not only are Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo likely to maintain key roles, but Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless are both up and coming prospects who flashed good potential last year (especially Harris). That’s a lot of mouths to feed on the perimeter and I envision Oladipo settling into a role where he mostly impacts the game on defense and by doing the dirty work that helped define his college career. That may help his team win games, but it won’t get him the rookie of the year award.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.