A survey released by NBA.com that polled the players from the 2016 NBA draft class reveals who this year’s crop expects to take home the Rookie of the Year award, but one name is mysteriously missing from the results. Despite being drafted with the No. 3 overall pick by the Boston Celtics, Jaylen Brown did not garner a single vote on the survey for the top question on the poll.
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Kris Dunn, a popular target among Celtics fans leading into the draft, received the most votes from his peers at 29 percent. If this prediction holds true, Dunn would be the third straight Timberwolves player to win the award, following in the footsteps of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
A total of 10 rookies received at least one vote for the Rookie of the Year prediction, but not a single one was cast for Brown. Brandon Ingram (25.8 percent) and Ben Simmons (19.4 percent) received the most votes after Dunn—not surprising considering they were the top two picks in the draft.
Why the snub for Brown? It’s certainly not because his peers don’t think highly of him. The survey also asked the rookies which player from their class is destined to have the best career, with Brown finishing tied for fourth with 6.7 percent of the votes. It’s likely that his fellow rookies see the same potential that Danny Ainge sees in him but question how much Brown can contribute to a Celtics squad expected to contend for one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference. Teams in that position normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to land the No. 3 pick in the draft, but the heist Ainge pulled on the Brooklyn Nets delivered Brown as the latest asset in the gift that keeps on giving.
Teams looking to make a deep playoff run don’t usually have the luxury of leaning heavily on rookies, while teams heading back to the lottery are more willing to give minutes and touches to their rookies. Brown isn’t likely to put up the stats that many of his fellow rookies will simply because the Celtics don’t need him to do so. Not out of the gate anyway. Brown will get the opportunity to carve out a role on this team, but he won’t step into a starting role from Day 1 like many of the rookies from his class.
While his name didn’t make the cut in the Rookie of the Year portion, Brown’s name can be found in other sections of the survey. He ran away with the vote for most athletic rookie with a whopping 38.7 percent, and he tied for fifth in the vote for best defensive rookie at 5.9 percent.
The most surprising portion of the survey saw Brown finish tied for third (6.5 percent) in the vote for biggest steal of the draft. Most of the votes for this question went to players picked outside the lottery, or at least significantly later than Brown was selected. If there are at least a few rookies that consider Brown to be a steal, apparently they must believe he has more upside than Simmons or Ingram, the two players drafted ahead of him.
Expectations for Brown’s rookie season need to be kept in check, but his future remains bright. Based on how his fellow rookies view him, Brown should live up to his high draft spot in the long run, so Celtics fans should be excited to see him develop over the next few years.