UHM’s 2016-17 NBA Regular Season Award Predictions
NBA Rookie of the Year Award (ROY)
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
The 2016-17 Rookie of the Year will be Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Joel Embiid has been in the league going on his third year now, how can he be the Rookie of the Year?” Well, since Embiid has dealt with injuries his first two pro seasons and has never stepped foot on an NBA court during the regular season, he’ll technically be considered a Rookie this year since it’ll be his first official time actually playing. From everything we’ve seen in the Pre-Season, Embiid looks to be everything that he was hyped up to be in 2014 when Philly took him with the 3rd overall pick in the draft. His minutes may start off limited due to risk of re-injury, but once the restrictions are up I expect Embiid to be BIG for the Sixers (literally and figuratively). With his other rookie sensation teammate and number 1 overall pick Ben Simmons basically out for the year, Embiid’s role in the offense will be even bigger. Had Simmons not gone down with injury he would have hands down been my pick, but even with him out the Sixers still have other players to turn to.
2016-17 Projected Stats: 17.6 Points, 9.2 Rebounds & 1.8 Blocks per game (31 Minutes per game)
2nd Option – Buddy Hield (New Orleans Pelicans): Buddy Hield was known to GET BUCKETS in college especially in his senior year at Oklahoma where he averaged 25 points per game on 50% shooting from the field, 45% from 3 and 89% from the free throw line; AMAZING numbers. He was also awarded the John R. Wooden Award as the Best Player in College Basketball his 2015-16 season. His shooting ability has scouts and analysts comparing him to reigning MVP Stephen Curry (which may be a little far-fetched), but his ability to score will definitely be something the Pelicans will eventually need. Attending college all four years reminds me of the likes of those such as 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy and 2013 Rookie of the Year Damien Lillard, both Portland Trailblazer guards who went on to have successful careers.
Dark Horse – Denzel Valentine (Chicago Bulls): Denzel Valentine was Mr. Triple Double or Mr. Do It All for Michigan State last year. Although he doesn’t stand tall at only 6’6″, his ability to grab rebounds and distribute the ball is something special; similar to his former Spartan teammate and current NBA All-Star Draymond Green. With Valentine being the backup shooting guard to Dwyane Wade, expect him to see a lot of playing time especially on some of Dwyane’s “rest” days this year giving him an opportunity to put up some all-around stats as he’s known to do.