Rookie-of-the-Year discussion in the NBA has turned pluralistic heading into 2018.
A month ago, a visit to the ROY theme park meant wandering around for a bit and looking at one statue — that of Philadelphia 76er Ben Simmons, who truly is having a remarkable year.
Now there’s a Mt. Rushmore — with Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, and Kyle Kuzma all getting hashtags and reddit upvotes in the energized social-mediacratic plasma of fans and journalists alike.
Before at least a little discussion and context, here are the plain stats and the advanced stats, courtesy of BasketballReference.com. Take them for what they’re worth, and twist or untwist them any way you like.
We’ve color-coded the leader box for each item. The “leader” in turnovers, of course, has the least. Etc.
(Please don’t @ us, Hawks, Lakers, Kings, Bulls, Mavs, and other fans. Every finite list has to stop at some number, n. Just ask the NCAA’s football committee. We chose the four players who have, to date, generated by far the most interest. We haven’t forgotten there are others. We’ve even bookmarked “Markelle Fultz” for later in the year, just in case.)
Rookie clutch shooting stats
Above, thanks to our friends at InPredictable.com, are the “clutch” and “cluch squared” shooting breakdowns for Simmons, Kuzma, Tatum, and Mitchell. “Clutch” attempts are shots taken that have an elevated impact on win probability.” And “clutch squared” attempts are “shots crucial to game outcome,” as measured by changes in game-outcome probability, i.e., buzzer-beaters and potential buzzer-beaters.
All four of the rookies are impressive, hitting an effective field goal percentage north of .500 on clutch and cluth-squared shots. Three of the four (Tatum, Simmons, and Kuzma) take more than 10 percent of their shots at such times, and all four take less than 20 percent of their attempts at garbage time.
Hence, none of the Big 4 piles up much of his stats at garbage time. Indeed, both Simmons (net rating 7.1) and Tatum (net rating 10.2) rank in the top 10 in NETRTG in the NBA, and high in a number of NBA-defined clutch-time categories. (Among players with more than 20 NBA games and 3.0 “clutch” minutes per this season.)
In this table, we’ve color-coded only to indicate which player, Tatum or Simmons, prevails against the other in clutch-time performance.
From our perspective, Simmons still leads the race in the “just look at what he’s doing category,” but then again, one could say the same for Kuzma, Mitchell, and Tatum.
So, let the debate rage. Just let there be stats to go with it.
Postscript: The discussion becomes… a discussion
As per our item several weeks ago, Celtics fans: Yes, “we’re tellin’ ya there’s a chance.” Some recent temperature reports from such NBA writer types as Mat Moore, Adam Kaufman, and Colin Ward-Henninger.
NBA Rookie Power Rankings: Celtics’ Jayson Tatum surges past two Lakers. “After averaging less than four free throw attempts per game this season, he’s taken 23 free throws in his last three games, including a career-high 11 attempts in the Celtics’ improbable comeback victory over the Rockets on Thursday night. Take this play for example, where Tatum sees nobody but James Harden between him and the basket, and he goes right after the All-Star to seek out the contact.”
Even after Gordon Hayward went down and Jayson Tatum became a full-time starter, I still didn't think he had chance of being #NBA Rookie of Year. Top 3, most likely. Now? Absolutely in convo, especially as offensive workload increases in 2nd-half. #Celtics https://t.co/jjRrbxcrUv
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) December 29, 2017
I think Mitchell has moved into the top spot for me. To me, Simmons, Tatum, and Mitchell are tied for different reasons, with Kumza next up. https://t.co/Q2I52oEzlZ
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 31, 2017