Every year, basketball fans talk about rookies. They want to know who is next, which newcomer to the NBA is going to be the news rookie sensation to take over the league and become the Association’s newest young star. Watching rookies is like getting a gift on Christmas — you know it’s new, you know it’s never been used, and you can’t wait to see it get broken in.
But what about the guys who had that shine last year? Being a second-year player in the NBA can be rough, not just because of the dreaded sophomore slump, but because the excitement around your career has slowed down considerably just because you’re no longer a rookie. This is despite the fact that, you know, there are rarely completely finished products when a guy is on the verge of entering their second year.
So we decided to give second year players a little love, ranking the 10-best guys heading into the 2017-18 campaign. Also, because it’s so hard to actually define what a second-year player is, we’re saying that anyone who was eligible for Rookie of the Year last season is now a second-year player. So while Ben Simmons might end up being the best 2016 NBA Draft pick this season, he’s defined as a rookie for the purposes of this article, etc.
Honorable mentions: Marquese Chriss, Phoenix; Caris LeVert, Brooklyn; Yogi Ferrell, Dallas; Jaylen Brown, Boston; Thon Maker, Milwaukee
All of these players are either talented but raw (Chriss and Maker) or don’t have a firm grip on a starting spot (Brown, Ferrell, LeVert). Chriss, a second-team All-Rookie team selection last year, was easily the hardest omission, and is the closest to breaking into the top-10 of this list. By the end of the year, I’d bet that he is among the best second-year players in the league.