Dime End Of Season Awards: Rookie Of The Year

The 2013-14 NBA season has officially ended, so now it’s time for regular season awards before the real season starts on Saturday. There’s a lot of wiggle room before we’re able to name some of the winners, which is why for Dime‘s 2014 NBA Awards we had our writers and contributors provide their top-three choices in an abridged version of what the NBA does with certain media members. Next up, slogging through the mud of the 2013 NBA Draft to discover the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.

Players were awarded three points for first place, two points for second place and one point for third place. Their point totals determined their placement.

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Sorry to sound so pessimistic in the lede, but have you watched some of the rookies this year? Brutal. Fortunately, there were a few diamonds in the rough in what will most likely go down as one of the worst rookie draft classes in the modern game.

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3. Mason Plumlee We actually got a chance to talk with Plumlee before the season started, and the man was pretty excited to be playing for such a veteran squad. But because of all those bodies, the younger brother of Phoenix forward Miles Plumlee, didn’t get a chance for some playing time until later in the year. That hurt him with our voters, we think. You can make the same case for No. 6 on our list below, ‘Wolves center Gorgui Dieng. But Plumlee is an effective protector of the rim — we saw him jump pretty high during D-Will’s Dodge Barrage charity event this past summer — and is picking up the defensive rotations of Jason Kidd’s system faster than many thought he could ( we’re guessing it helps him to having KG yapping at you in practice). On offense, he’s a glorified dunk machine, but we’ve seen a soft tough near the iron, and he’s only going to get better.

2. Victor Oladipo
He probably would have been our No. 1 choice, but that’s only because his defense is a gem to behold for such a young guy playing in the backcourt. Seriously, watch your back when ‘Dipo goes airborne for a block. Offensively, he shot the ball better than our No. 1 choice, but we can’t remember seeing so many errant passes and poor decisions on the pick-and-roll. ‘Dipo went through the usual growing pains of playing guard in the NBA, and his turnovers show that. But he shot well, particularly on an improved mid-range jumper he never showed in his first two years in Indiana. He’s got three-point range, and he’s a freakin’ athlete of the highest order, capable of blowing by opposing defenders with a lightening quick first step and improved ball handling.

1. Michael Carter-Williams
This is tough, since MCW played for one of the worst teams of all time. As such, his final numbers were padded by playing time other rookies could only dream about. Still, MCW led all rookies in scoring at 16.7 PPG, but he shot just above the Rivers* line at 40.5 percent on the year. That shooting came despite a so-so 44 percent inside the arc. But Carter-Williams attempted three 3-pointers a game, and only connected on 26.4 percent of them.

He’s also too skinny too fight over screens, and Philly’s abysmal defense gets even worse when he’s on the court — though they do score more when he’s on the court, but even at that higher mark they sport the worst points per possession (PPP) in the league. While we don’t have a problem with MCW as the selection, we think our writers were suckered in my MCW’s head-start after that electrifying first week of his rookie campaign when the underdogs set the NBA ablaze with a huge upset of the Heat. Plus, if Michael Carter-Williams wins the ROY, he’ll have the lowest PER (15.5) of all ROY winners going back as far as ESPN’s PER stats go back (2002-03).

We think ‘Dipo deserves it, but our voters have spoken, and it’s not a bad choice, all things considered:

1) Michael Carter-Williams 1st place (7), 2nd place (1), 3rd place (0) = 23
2) Victor Oladipo 1st place (1), 2nd place (7), 3rd place (0) = 17
3) Mason Plumlee 1st place (0), 2nd place (0), 3rd place (4) = 4
4) Trey Burke 1st place (0), 2nd place (0), 3rd place (2) = 2
5) Tim Hardaway Jr. 1st place (0), 2nd place (0), 3rd place (1) = 1
6) Gorgui Dieng 1st place (0), 2nd place (0), 3rd place (1) = 1

*The NBA needs its own “Mendoza line” (batting below .200 in baseball), so I’m going with Austin Rivers, who shot .372 in his rookie campaign. Coincidentally, MCW shot the exact same percentage from the field as Rivers did this season: 40.5 percent.

(H/T Dime contributor Matthew Hochberg for counting votes and doing research)

Who will win the Rookie of the Year? Who should win?

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