The 2015-16 NBA rookie class looks to be one of the most talented in recent memory, and while that assessment is given out almost every single year, many of this season's crop of rookies are expected to be solid to good at the very least. It's almost impossible to predict which players will turn out to be superstars and which will turn out to be busts-only the pressure of playing in the NBA can decide that. But what we can do is predict which players have the potential to have an excellent year in 2016. Let's take a look at the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year odds and make a few picks and predictions for the top players in the incoming rookie class.
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Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers : +300: Okafor might be a man on a mission once the season starts. Karl-Anthony Towns became the consensus No. 1 pick early in the draft process, which was fine for the former Duke standout Okafor, who expected to be picked by Los Angeles at the No. 2 spot. However, a long summer of workouts, a few impressive moments from D'Angelo Russell, and a shift in the way the NBA thinks about big men caused Los Angeles to skip over the Okafor for the speedy point guard. Okafor will have nothing but opportunity and playing time for an atrocious Philadelphia squad, and he could even average 17 points and 10 rebounds during his rookie campaign, which would almost leave him a shoe-in for the award.
Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets : +400: Mudiay was said to be the "mystery box" of the 2015 draft as the young guard skipped college to play in China. American rookies coming in from the international pro basketball scene have not fared well over the last few years, which leaves Mudiay as an unknown commodity. What we do know is that Denver is struggling for talent after gutting its core over the last couple of years, and the team will give Mudiay the opportunity to sink or swim. Wagering on +400 isn't a bad option for a dynamic point guard that can score and handle the ball.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves : +500: this line is one of the few times that a No. 1 pick in the NBA draft isn't even in the Top 2 for Rookie of the Year odds. Towns may be the best player in a potentially loaded rookie class, but the trouble for his award candidacy is the fact that he will be playing on a team filled with young talent. The reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and last year's dunk champion Zach LaVine are the stars in Minnesota, and Towns won't be asked to carry a large load during this first year as a pro. Expect the No. 1 pick to eventually turn into one of the best big men in the NBA, but do not expect him to win the ROY award.
D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers : +600: Russell is expected to be a game-changing player that is leading the pack of the next generation of superstar point guards. The trouble for the rookie is that he will not be expected to do much during his first year as Los Angeles has plenty of ball handlers and an offense that will run primarily through Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle. Expect Russell to be a solid player who just isn't doing enough to win the ROY award.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks : +1500: Knicks fans went nuts when the organization drafted Porzingis in the No. 4 spot in last summer's draft. What everyone failed to realize, however, was that the Latvian-born player has the potential to make a huge impact on a struggling Knicks roster. Many experts believe Porzingis has the highest upside of any rookie in 2015. And with New York being fully healthy heading into the season, the team has nowhere to go but up. Coach Derek Fisher has already indicated that the rookie with start at forward for the team, and he will have every chance in the world to make a run at the ROY award.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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