clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NBA rookies think Jahlil Okafor will be better than Karl-Anthony Towns

The No. 1 pick isn't the top rookie in the eyes of his peers. Plus, NBA rookies still really love Kobe Bryant and other things we learned from the rookie survey.

The results for the annual rookie survey were released on Wednesday and, as always, provided some interesting insights into how the class views its members. None was more surprising than Jahlil Okafor -- not first overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns -- getting the most love from their peers.

Okafor received 41.9 percent of the votes for Rookie of the Year, while 24.1 percent of the rookies think he will have the best career. Towns ranked third behind Pistons' small forward Stanley Johnson in Rookie of the Year voting with just 12.9 percent of the votes, with only 17.2 percent of the class thinking he will have the best career.

There are some caveats to consider. Rookies weren't allowed to vote for college teammates, which means former Kentucky Wildcats Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Aaron Harrison couldn't vote for Towns. Rookie of the Year often goes to someone who gets playing time. Okafor will start from Day 1 in Philadelphia while Towns landed in a crowded Minnesota frontcourt. The shine of Okafor's national title might have also swayed some of his peers to vote for him.

It's still interesting that Okafor, who was selected third overall after Towns and D'Angelo Russell, is projected to be the better pro. Towns is the ideal modern NBA big man while the former Duke Blue Devil is more of a traditional post scorer. Players like him will always have a role in the league but are going out of style, as rule changes have made mobility on defense and pick and roll prowess more important than post play. The incoming class clearly disagrees.

Towns vs. Okafor never felt like a real debate leading up to the draft but could become a rivalry over the years if the survey is right. The Sixers and Timberwolves are surely happy with their selections right now but might end up regretting them if the rookies saw something on Okafor they missed.

Rookies still like Kobe

Kevin Durant led the poll for favorite player for the second year in a row with 21.2 percent of the votes. Kobe Bryant was right behind him once again -- 18.2 percent of the rookies still like Kobe better than anyone else in the league despite the fact that he played a combined 41 games over the past two seasons.

Bryant is a living legend at this point. It really doesn't matter how he performs or whether he's even on the court. These players grew up watching him dominate and will continue to worship him and the image he's built. The survey is another reminder that the league will miss Kobe dearly if this is, in fact, his last year.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the funniest, Justin Anderson the most athletic

Last season Joel Embiid tweeted his way to the top of the funniest rookie list. This time, the Nets' Rondae Hollis-Jefferson claimed the title with a whopping 44.3 percent of the votes. He also got the most votes for best defender. Apparently Hollis-Jefferson locks guys up and makes them laugh when he's on the court.

Dallas' Justin Anderson, meanwhile, edged out two-sport star Pat Connaughton for most athletic rookie. It's not hard to see why.

Anderson posted a 43-inch max vertical at the combine and is fearless. Make sure to tune in to some Mavericks games to see him do that against NBA defenders.

Other winners

Best shooter: Devin Booker (Suns)

Best playmaker: D'Angelo Russell (Lakers)

Biggest steal of the draft: Joe Young (Pacers)