Photo: Mark Blinch/Getty Images

With the 2021-22 NBA regular season now in the history books, here’s my final thoughts on this year’s extremely talented rookie class.

  • Before giving my Rookie of the Year pick, I just want to say that Detroit’s Cade Cunningham (#1 pick) wins this award if he has a fully healthy season (18 games missed). Only five rookies in NBA history have averaged 20-5-5 and Cunningham put up 17.4 PPG-5.5 RPG-5.6 APG this season while playing in many games where he wasn’t 100%. Now for my actual Rookie of the Year pick, I’m going with Cleveland’s Evan Mobley (#3 pick). Mobley has already established himself as a top NBA defender (1.7 BPG) in just his first year. That alone should win him the award, but I can’t forget about his scoring, passing, efficiency, and rebounding. He averaged 15.0 PPG & 2.5 APG on a 50.8% field goal percentage to go along with 8.3 RPG (led all rookies). However, when you look at the season Toronto’s Scottie Barnes (#4 pick) had, he actually averaged more PPG (15.3 PPG) & APG (3.5) than Mobley, nearly had the same field goal percentage (49.2% FG), and also defended at a very high level (1.1 SPG). I still expect Mobley to win the award, but wouldn’t be surprised at all if Barnes earns himself Rookie of the Year honors.
  • Now onto my All-Rookie Team selections. Back in February, I wrote that the All-Rookie First Team seemed to be a lock for Cunningham, Mobley, Barnes, Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey (#6 pick), & Orlando’s Franz Wagner (#8 pick). Unfortunately, Giddey never returned from his right hip injury and missed the last 22 games of the season, leaving room for another rookie to potentially take his spot. That’s where Houston’s Jalen Green (#2 pick) exploded for a ridiculous 22.5 PPG on 40.1% shooting from three point range in his last 20 games. Giddey should make Second Team easily though along with Indiana’s Chris Duarte (#13 pick) & New Orleans’ Herb Jones (#35 pick). For the remaining last two spots, I’m going with Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell (#9 pick) & Chicago’s Ayo Dosunmu (#38 pick) over Golden State’s Jonathan Kuminga (#7 pick) & Houston’s Alperen Sengun (#16 pick) based on more MPG. You could definitely see that if Kuminga & Sengun got more minutes this season, they probably average way better numbers than Mitchell & Dosunmu. So, these last two spots will be interesting to see what the voters ultimately decide and if positions end up mattering (I have 4 guards on my Second Team). 
  • Quick note: I thought the strong return Orlando’s Jalen Suggs (#5 pick) had in January-February gave him a legit shot at Second Team, but he couldn’t stay healthy and only appeared in 7 games from March-April. Suggs ended up only playing in 48 total games this season.
  • 2021 1st round picks who showed nice flashes but need more work/minutes to develop going forward-  Memphis’ Ziaire Williams (#10 pick), Charlotte’s James Bouknight (#11 pick), San Antonio’s Josh Primo (#12 pick), Golden State’s Moses Moody (#14 pick), Washington’s Corey Kispert (#15 pick), New Orleans’ Trey Murphy III (#17 pick), Oklahoma City’s Tre Mann (#18 pick), Portland’s Keon Johnson (#21 pick), Indiana’s Isaiah Jackson (#22 pick), Houston’s Josh Christopher (#24 pick), New York’s Quentin Grimes (#25 pick), Denver’s Bones Hyland (#26 pick), Brooklyn’s Cam Thomas (#27 pick) & Day’Ron Sharpe (#29 pick), and Memphis’ Santi Aldama (#30 pick).
  • Remaining 2021 1st round picks who basically had no roles this season: Charlotte’s Kai Jones (#19 pick), Atlanta’s Jalen Johnson (#20 pick), Houston’s Usman Garuba (#23 pick), and Philadelphia’s Jaden Springer (#28 pick).
  •  H. Jones, Dosunmu, Oklahoma City’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (#32 pick) & Aaron Wiggins (#55 pick), and Brooklyn’s Kessler Edwards (#44 pick) played the best/received the most minutes of any 2nd round picks while New York’s Miles McBride (#36 pick), Utah’s Jared Butler (#40 pick), Detroit’s Isaiah Livers (#42 pick) & Luka Garza (#52 pick), Portland’s Greg Brown (#43 pick), Toronto’s Dalano Banton (#46 pick), the LA Clippers’ Brandon Boston Jr. (#51 pick), Milwaukee’s Sandro Mamukelashvili (#54 pick), New York’s Jericho Sims (#58 pick), and Oklahoma City’s Georgios Kalaitzakis (#60 pick) didn’t play as much but certainly made the most of their short minutes.
  • Remaining 2021 2nd round picks who basically had no roles this season: Washington’s Isaiah Todd (#31 pick), Charlotte’s JT Thor (#37 pick), Sacramento’s Neemias Queta (#39 pick), San Antonio’s Joe Wieskamp (#41 pick), Toronto’s David Johnson (#47 pick), Atlanta’s Sharife Cooper (#48 pick), Philadelphia’s Charles Bassey (#53 pick), and Charlotte’s Scottie Lewis (#56 pick).
  • Quick note: The LA Clippers’ Jason Preston (#33 pick) missed the entire season after having surgery on his right foot back in October.
  • 2021 draft picks who weren’t on final NBA rosters/played in the G-League or overseas: Rokas Jokubaitis (#34 pick by Oklahoma City, traded to New York), Juhann Begarin (#45 pick by Boston), Marcus Zegarowski (#49 pick by Brooklyn), Filip Petrusev (#50 pick by Philadelphia), Balsa Koprivica (#57 pick by Charlotte, traded to Detroit), and RaiQuan Gray (#59 pick by Brooklyn).
  • Top undrafted rookies: the LA Lakers’ Austin Reaves, New Orleans’ Jose Alvarado, Portland’s Trendon Watford & Brandon Williams, Indiana’s Duane Washington Jr., Terry Taylor, & Keifer Sykes (undrafted in 2015), Miami’s Omer Yurtseven (undrafted in 2020), San Antonio’s Jock Landale (undrafted in 2018), Oklahoma City’s Lindy Waters (undrafted in 2020) & Olivier Sarr, Brooklyn’s David Duke, Toronto’s Justin Champagnie, Phoenix’s Ish Wainright (undrafted in 2017), Detroit’s Braxton Key (undrafted in 2020) & Jamorko Pickett, Chicago’s Malcolm Hill (undrafted in 2017), Milwaukee’s Lindell Wigginton (undrafted in 2019), Boston’s Sam Hauser, and Houston’s Daishen Nix.