There are still two months before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season officially starts, but fans can’t help themselves but make their own predictions on who will win the 2019 NBA championship title and other prestigious awards. ESPN recently asked their forecast panelists about their top choices for the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year.
The 2018 NBA Draft was loaded with young and promising talents who are expected to make an immediate impact in the upcoming season. Unlike what most people think, the player who got the most points in ESPN’s summer forecast for the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year is not Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton or Sacramento Kings power forward Marvin Bagley III, who were selected No. 1 and No. 2 overall pick, respectively. Receiving 126 total points and 58 percent first-place votes, Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic is expected to win the Rookie of the Year award next season.
It’s not a surprise why Luka Doncic got the most votes. Most ESPN forecast panelists believe Doncic is the most NBA-ready prospect in the 2018 NBA Draft class. Though he is yet to play a single game in the league, Doncic is already drawing comparisons to NBA Hall of Famers like former Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash.
“Doncic is an efficient stat-sheet stuffer who could eventually see more on-ball reps than incumbent Dallas point guard Dennis Smith Jr., lofting lobs to DeAndre Jordan and darting crosscourt dimes to Wes Matthews and Harrison Barnes. Though he’s just 19, he should get opportunities — the Mavs gave up their protected 2019 first-round pick to move up two spots and draft the Slovenian star,” Mike Schmitz of ESPN said.
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Doncic’s size, mobility, and ability to guard multiple positions make him a great fit in the modern NBA. Last season in the Euroleague, Doncic established an impressive performance, averaging 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.1 steals on 45.6 percent shooting from the field and 30.9 percent from beyond the arc. Despite being a rookie, the Mavericks already see Doncic as one of the players who can bring them back to their former glory.
Meanwhile, No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton only finished second in the ESPN’s forecast for the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year. Ayton received 68 total points and 24 percent first-place votes.
“He will provide instant value on the glass, and with Devin Booker as his likely pick-and-roll partner, Ayton can pop to midrange or dive into deep seals, finishing with strength and touch around the rim,” Schmitz said.
Like Doncic, Ayton is also carrying a heavy load on his shoulder as he is tasked to help Devin Booker to turn the Suns from a tanking team to a real threat in the deep Western Conference.