Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. slipped to the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but his peers think highly of him.
NBA.com spoke with 39 rookies at the recent Rookie Photo Shoot in New York. Each was asked seven questions about their draft class. The answers show that expectations are very high for Smith Jr. entering this season. The rookies surveyed predicted Smith Jr. would win the 2018 Rookie of the Year award.
1. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas — 25.7%
2. Lonzo Ball, L.A. Lakers — 20.0%
3. Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia —17.1%
T4. Kyle Kuzma, L.A. Lakers— 5.7%
T4. Donovan Mitchell, Utah — 5.7 %
T4. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia — 5.7%
With that said, the report pointed out that these surveys are not the most accurate way to project first-year success in the NBA. Last season, for example, Kris Dunn was selected as the ROY favorite by his peers.
“Only once have the rookies correctly predicted the Rookie of the Year. That was in the first year of the survey, 2007, when 53.5 percent predicted that Kevin Durant would win the award.”
Smith Jr.’s fellow rookies also named him him the most athletic player in this draft class. He ran away with the decision, earning 43.6 percent of the votes; the runner-up was Terrance Ferguson of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who finished with 12.8 percent.
Smith Jr. also received votes for the best playmaker (which Lonzo Ball won) and biggest steal for where he was selected (which Donovan Mitchell won) as well.
After a dominant performance during the NBA Summer League, it’s clear Smith Jr. is turning heads and even his fellow rookies are impressed with what they’ve seen thus far.