The votes are in. Dennis Smith Jr. is favored to be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. If you believe what his fellow rookies are saying, that is.
Recently, NBA.com conducted a survey of the 2017 rookie class in New York to gauge their feelings of their peers. Across the board, Smith Jr. received high marks.
Almost 26 percent of the rookies surveyed think that Smith Jr. will win Rookie of the Year. Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers finished in second with 20 percent.
Smith Jr. also took top honors as the most athletic rookie in his class by a landslide. Nearly 44 percent of the rookies chose him for that title.
The rookies also think that Smith Jr. is likely to have one of the best careers in the group and that drafting Smith Jr. ninth overall was a steal for the Dallas Mavericks. Only the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, who was drafted 13th overall, is seen as a bigger steal.
Smith Jr. is considered one of the class’ better playmakers as well.
It’s no wonder that he’s received such high praise from his peers. He was one of the standout players during Summer League in July. In six games, Smith Jr. averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. He also wowed crowds with electrifying dunks during warm-ups and one in-game dunk, that he missed, which brought the Thomas & Mack Center to its feet in awe.
While his fellow rookies think he’ll win the highest honor a first-time NBA player can receive, it should be noted that a rookie class has only correctly picked Rookie of the Year once. That was back in 2007 when Kevin Durant won it. This isn’t an exact science, after all.
Nonetheless, if Smith Jr. does receive Rookie of the Year, he will only be the second Maverick to win the honor. Jason Kidd, who shared it with Grant Hill, did so in 1994-95. That’s pretty good company to keep.