PBT Awards: Rookie of the Year

5 Comments

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves

2. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls

3. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

If Jabari Parker had remained healthy, he would have run away with this, but that shouldn’t diminish the leaps Andrew Wiggins on the offensive end of the court. Yes, he’s scoring a lot in isolation right now, but look at his teammates. He was thought to be a project on the offensive end and averaged almost 20 points a game after the All-Star break. Plus he can defend. Mirotic was fantastic for the Bulls as well.

Brett Pollakoff

1. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves

2. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls

3. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

Mirotic has stepped right in to become a legitimate member of a very good Chicago team’s rotation, and if defense is your thing, Noel leading all rookies in rebounding and blocked shots makes him a nice choice. Wiggins has been the most consistent of the three all season long, which is why he gets my vote here, though it’s worth noting that the others have closed the gap significantly over the last couple of months. 

Sean Highkin

1. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves

2. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls

3. Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic

It’s tempting to give Mirotic consideration because he’s contributing on a playoff team, but his minutes and play have been inconsistent and he only started to break out in the month of March. Wiggins is the clear choice. He’s already an incredibly versatile scorer and defender, and he’s been productive all season.

Dan Feldman

1. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls

2. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves

3. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

Mirotic blows away the competition in key all-in-one advanced stats, but that alone doesn’t get my vote. He should be more efficient than Wiggins, who posts better traditional numbers and will certainly win this award. Mirotic plays for a better coach and with better teammates, and he has more ability to pick his spots. That matters a ton. But I ultimately went with Mirotic in a very close call, because when asked to shoulder a bigger load, he has delivered. Wiggins, to his credit, does it more often, but Mirotic can do it, too. That should ease some of the questions of whether Mirotic is succeeding just because he has a smaller burden.

Noel was excellent the second half of the season, but for an annual award, his first-half play weighs him down.