Malcolm Brogdon and Dario Saric were the only unanimous selections for the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team this season.
Let’s be honest — there weren’t many standout rookies to choose from this season. But each of these players had a solid year in their limited roles. Keep in mind that these designations were not made positionally, which makes it so much easier to recognize the most talented players in the draft class.
When you dig down deep into the weeds, this draft class has some players who will continue to build on promising rookie campaigns. Joel Embiid is obviously at the top of the class, with Saric and Brogdon not trailing far behind. Those three were complete shoo-ins for the squad.
This season didn’t pan out exactly how we thought it would for these rookies, and that’s OK. There is talent in each and every draft class, and these were the most talented guys this year.
All-Rookie First Team
Embiid was very clearly the best rookie as far as production goes. Even while playing limited minutes in just 31 games, he still led the class in points per game and total blocks. Embiid won Rookie of the Month in November, December, and January before being declared out for the season after just 31 games.
Saric came on after shortly after Embiid went down for the last time. In 25 games after the NBA All-Star break, he averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in just 30.4 minutes per game.
Hield’s season had a tumultuous start in New Orleans, where he couldn’t find the rim and paid for it with playing time. But in Sacramento, Hield averaged 15.1 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three and 48 percent from the field.
Brogdon is a dark-horse candidate for Rookie of the Year because of the role he played in Milwaukee this season. As a starter in 28 games, he averaged 12.5 points with 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. He also dunked all over the Cavaliers.
We didn’t hear much of Hernangomez’s name at the season’s start, but he became a fan favorite across the league by the end of it. He averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in just 18.2 minutes per game while leading all rookies with 11 double-doubles this season. Rest assured, he’ll be a big part of the Knicks’ future.
All-Rookie Second Team
Early on, there were concerns about whether Brown would fit in on the Celtics’ already competitive roster. Not only did he fit in, but he turned into a major rotation player for them this year and defended LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ingram’s season had tons of growing pains, but he learned how to play different roles on the Lakers’ evolving roster. He’s shown flashes of being able to initiate offense, spot up or slash inside, and will continue to add to his game as time goes by.
If there was a player with no conscience in this draft class, it’s Murray. He’s not afraid to let the ball fly from deep with 4.2 threes per game in just 21 minutes of play. Just ask the Pelicans how it feels when those shots are dropping.
Chriss’ rookie season wasn’t special, but he showed flashes of what he could be. He worked on adding a three-point shot to his game and could become a real inside-outside threat down the line.
Had Ferrell spent more time in Dallas this season, he may have been a solid pick for the first team. He shot 40 percent from deep in 36 games as a Maverick and gave us the closest thing we’ve had to Linsanity with his first stretch of starts over Deron Williams in early February.
Others receiving votes
Point totals, with first-place votes in parentheses: Rodney McGruder, Miami, 61 (7); Caris LeVert, Brooklyn, 36 (2); Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City, 19 (4); Tyler Ulis, Phoenix, 10 (1); Patrick McCaw, Golden State, 8; Skal Labissiere, Sacramento, 7 (1); Kris Dunn, Minnesota, 5; Juancho Hernangomez, Denver, 5; Taurean Prince, Atlanta, 5; Isaiah Whitehead, Brooklyn, 5; Alex Abrines, Oklahoma City, 4; Davis Bertans, San Antonio, 3; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio, 3; Thon Maker, Milwaukee, 3; Andrew Harrison, Memphis, 2; Fred VanVleet, Toronto, 1; Dragan Bender, Phoenix, 1; DeAndre’ Bembry, Atlanta, 1; Jakob Poeltl, Toronto, 1; Malcolm Delaney, Atlanta, 1.