Sort of. ESPN rounded up a group of roughly a million voters to award the postseason hardware before the preseason even started. The experts’ prediction? Wall will be taking home the top rookie prize, even beating out last year’s #1 pick and Eric Bledsoe’s new teammate Blake Griffin in the process. The thinking behind awarding Wall the trophy:
With the Wizards giving Wall the reins from day one, it’s easy to see why more than half of our panelists think he’ll take home the hardware. A pure point guard with amazing quicks, the will to pass, defensive skills and a decent shot, Wall has a game that should translate immediately to the pro level. Witness recent ROY winners Chris Paul and Derrick Rose — the two players to whom Wall is most often compared.
That’s not to say he’s a shoo-in, of course. In fact, only two of the past 11 No. 1 picks have won rookie of the year. And, you might recall, the last time Washington had the No. 1 pick, it didn’t work out so well. (Ask Kwame Brown.)
Assuming Gilbert Arenas is still with the Wizards, Wall will have a backcourt mate who can either help him or hinder him, depending on how willing Arenas is to defer. Either way, the stage is set for Wall to turn around a franchise coming off its most embarrassing season ever, and, as we saw earlier in our forecast series, we expect that the Wizards will only go up from here.
Just as interesting to Cat fans, though, is that DeMarcus Cousins also made noise in the voting, bringing in 14 of the 93 possible votes to finish third behind Wall and Griffin. And, as always, the everpresent (aand everoverblown) attitude issues with Boogie seem to play a part.
Based on talent alone, Cousins could easily be the favorite to win rookie of the year. Just look at his Kentucky stats — he’s an efficient double-double machine who dominated college opponents as a freshman.
Still, you can’t blame our panel for hesitating to crown Cousins king of the rooks. Not when he’s going up against two No. 1 picks for the honor. Not when he’s dealing with maturity issues. Not when he’s competing with Samuel Dalembert, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson for minutes in Sacramento. And not when he’s battling the likes of Duncan, Gasol and Yao in the West when he does see the floor.
But if Cousins overcomes those obstacles and plays to his potential, Sacramento could very well be looking at back-to-back ROY winners (Kings point guard Tyreke Evans won the 2009-10 award). The last team to accomplish that feat was the Buffalo Braves (Bob McAdoo in 1973 and Ernie DiGregorio in 1974).
Right, buddy. He’s competing with Jason Thompson for minutes. Sure.
Regardless of the unbelievable ignorance involved in virtually every evaluation of Cousins, it’s safe to say that our sophomores-to-have-been will be among the frontrunners for top rookie recognition. And I, for one, am actually excited about the NBA season because of it.