The results of the NBA’s rookie survey were announced today, and Boston Celtics wing Jayson Tatum found himself tied with Lonzo Ball for the top spot as the rookie most likely to have “the best career.” The honor, though fairly inconsequential, is a nice vote (pun most definitely intended) of confidence in Tatum’s ability from his peers.
Winners of the distinction in the past three years include fellow Duke alums Brandon Ingram, Jahlil Okafor, and Jabari Parker. The jury is still out on those players, but unless Ingram makes some huge leaps relative to the field (possible) or Parker finds a way to overcome his injury proneness (slightly less possible), the likelihood of any of them having the best career within their respective rookie classes is low.
That’s not to say that Tatum is doomed, but it’s just a reminder to take everything with a grain of salt. The rookies have been notoriously poor prognosticators, particularly with regard to their Rookie of the Year (ROY) projections.
Interestingly, Tatum was not one of the six highest-voted players that the NBA’s rookies felt were most likely to secure that honor. There’s some logic there. He certainly won’t have as easy a path to minutes as some of the league’s other rookies. Still, it’s nothing to get upset about. That the rookies didn’t highlight Tatum as a strong ROY candidate might be a good sign. They’re typically wrong on that front more often than they’re right.