The 2017 NBA rookie class is bullish on Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr.
In a survey of 39 rookies conducted by NBA.com, Smith was voted most likely to win Rookie of the Year.
Vegas split on Ball, Simmons as ROY favorite
Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball opened as the 9-5 favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year at William Hill’s Nevada sportsbook, but Westgate SuperBook went with Sixers forward Ben Simmons as the favorite at 5-2.
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Smith impressed scouts — and his fellow rookies, apparently — with standout athleticism and explosiveness in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 17.8 points per game. He figures to play significant minutes in his first NBA season.
It’s worth noting that this poll doesn’t have a strong history of predicting the eventual award winner. The players surveyed have correctly predicted the Rookie of the Year just once since 2007 — Kevin Durant won the award that season. Last season, then-Timberwolves guard Kris Dunn (now with the Chicago Bulls) was predicted to win the award, which went to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon.
In other voting categories, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell was voted as the “biggest steal” in the draft based on where he was selected. Mitchell, who was picked 13th by the Jazz, also played well in summer league, scoring 24 points per game.
Phoenix’s Josh Jackson was voted as the top defender in the rookie class. The Kansas standout received 26.3 percent of the vote, followed by Golden State’s Jordan Bell (23.7 percent) and Mitchell (21.1 percent).
Lastly, Ball and Boston’s Jayson Tatum were tied in the voting for the rookie most likely to have the best overall career. Jackson and Smith tied for second in the category.