Could the 30-year-old Euroleague veteran Milos Teodosic win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award with the LA Clippers?
Could the LA Clippers’ newest point guard, Milos Teodosic, steal the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year Award away from all the youngin’s and set the NBA on fire?
The upcoming NBA rookie class is full of young talented players who have the potential to become the NBA’s newest superstars. Players like Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jason Tatum, and Markelle Fultz were polarizing in Summer League, selling out games and setting basketball Twitter on fire.
And then there’s Ben Simmons, who will be making his NBA debut in the 2017-18 season because of injury, similar to what Blake Griffin went through at the start of his career. But what if none of those players won Rookie of the Year? Milos Teodosic could surprise the league and take home the award.
In his last season with CSKA Moscow, Teodosic averaged 16.1 points, 6.8 assists, and 2.1 rebounds on 45 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from three. While his numbers will probably drop as Teodosic adapts to the NBA game, his averages with CSKA Moscow are right on line with other Rookie of the Year guards’ stats:
Kyrie Irving’s 2011-12 ROTY Season: 18.5 points, 5.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 47 percent shooting, 40 percent from three.
Damian Lillard’s 2012-2013 ROTY Season:19 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 42 percent shooting, 37 percent from three.
Chris Paul’s 2005-06 ROTY Season: 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 43 percent shooting, 28 percent from three.
Derrick Rose’s 2008-08 ROTY Season: 16.8 points, 6.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 48 percent shooting, 22 percent from three.
His numbers might end up being lower than the above rookies, but Teodosic’s stat line should at least end up being better or close to last year’s Rookie of the Year winner, Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon averaged 10.2 points, 4.2 assists, and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from three, the lowest amount of points per game of any NBA Rookie of the Year ever. The Bucks guard also had the lowest amount of minutes per game of any winner at just 26.4 minutes per game.
This year’s rookie class has the potential to be one of the better classes in the past few seasons which means Teodosic will have some solid competition. While many of the top rookies are on teams that will not go very far in the post season, the rooks may still produce stat lines impressive enough to win the award.
However, last year’s Rookie of the Year competition was mainly between Dario Saric, Joel Embiid, and Malcolm Brogdon. Embiid lost out because of the number of games he missed with injury and Saric lost out to Brogdon as well, even though his stats were superior. The fact that the Bucks made the playoffs while the Sixers did not may have had a huge sway on the voters’ mindsets, making them leaning towards Brogdon since his team was more successful.
If the Clippers make the playoffs this season, Teodosic might get an edge over some of the rookies on non-playoffs teams such as Lonzo Ball on the Lakers or Josh Jackson on the Suns. A few top-tier rookies, such as Jason Tatum, may be hurt by the teams they are on since their teams are so good. Tatum may struggle to find minutes behind Gordon Hayward, Jason Crowder, and Jalen Brown which would hurt his Rookie of the Year chances.
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If Teodosic did earn the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, he’d be the oldest player to win the award by around six years. Last year’s winner, Malcolm Brogdon was actually the oldest player to ever win the award at 24-years-old, beating out David Robinson and Elgin Baylor by a few months. Traditionally, the rookie of the year award usually goes to the younger players since there usually aren’t very many rookies over the age of 24.
However, don’t rule Teodosic out because he is older than the typical Rookie of the Year by a large margin. Arvydas Sabonis was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1986 NBA Draft but did not end up coming over to the NBA until the 1995-96 season because of the Soviet Union. When Sabonis did finally make his debut for the Blazers, he was 31-years-old and on the downside of his peak.
In his rookie season, Sabonis averaged 14.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 55 percent from the field in less than 24 minutes per game. The center was selected to the All-Rookie First Team and was the runner up in both the Rookie of the Year Award and Sixth Man of the Year Award competitions.
Teodosic would also become the second “foreign” player to win the award with Pau Gasol (2001-02) being the first. Patrick Ewing, Kyrie Irving, and Andrew Wiggins would technically count as foreign ROTY winners since they were all born outside of the U.S. but each of them moved to the United States at young ages which should disqualify them.
Milos Teodosic has just as good a chance of winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award as any of the other rookies in this year’s class. Even though his age may be held against him by voters, it does not disqualify him in any way for the award. While the competition will be tough, Teodosic would have a strong chance of winning the award if he replicated his overseas stat line and helped the LA Clippers earn a solid seed in the Western Conference.