There has been a lot of conjecture as to who should be the rightful recipient of this year’s Rookie of the Year award, and at this point, there really shouldn’t be much discussion needed.
Generally, there are two schools of thought: you’re either in favor of the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns or the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzinigs. While both players are having undeniably incredible seasons, it’s becoming more and more obvious that Towns deserves the award.
Regardless of the Wolves record compared to the Knicks, Towns has been the superior player this season. People that are ruling in favor of Porzingis seemed to be entranced by “Zinger” fever that has swept over the NBA and the national media this season. It seems as though that those fans are mainly influenced by what they see on ESPN or FOX Sports or whatever media outlet to which they are attached.
This is because the national media has an obsession with Kristaps Porzingis; a lot of this has to do with the fact that he does play in one of the biggest NBA markets. However, some of the Zinger Mania has to be media and fans “covering their tracks” so to speak. There were very few analysts and fans that endorsed Porzingis when he was drafted, this was clearly evident when he was relentlessly booed after his name was called on draft day.
Now that Porzinigs is proving those people wrong, everyone wants to cover the fact that they publicly bashed him when the Knicks selected him. That is why I think ESPN and other mainstream media is so obsessed with him, they want to cover up the fact that they were wrong about him (Yes, I’m looking at you, Stephen A. Smith).
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That attention doesn’t help Towns’ case as most fans are interested in the Knicks, who have a better record. General NBA fans have long strayed away from watching Wolves basketball, because they have been so bad recently, not to mention the lack of nationally-televised games. However, this is skewing fans’ opinions of who should win the Rookie of the Year, and I truly believe that most NBA fans have yet to watch a full Karl-Anthony Towns performance.
Anyway, it’s not Porzingis’ fault that everyone bashed him, and he’s handled everything exceptionally well. Despite his great season, I still think it’s clear that Karl-Anthony Towns deserves Rookie of the Year. Just looking at their numbers, Towns leads in every major statistical category except blocked shots, which is still unbelievably close.
Then, we can go further and look at the rookie’s basic zone shot charts. Here is Porzingis’:
And now here is a look at Towns’ shot chart:
So despite Porzingis being labeled as the better shooter between the two, it is clear that Towns has been the better shooter statistically this season.
In terms of general statistics they are almost incomaparble as Towns leads in every major statistical category besides blocks per game. It is interesting to see how Towns and Porzingis compare to great rookies of the past from a statistical standpoint.
For Porzingis his numbers are eerily similar to that of Yao Ming‘s when he was a rookie in 2002-03. Here are the numbers:
15-16 Porzingis: 14 PPG, 7.4 RPG. 1.9 BPG. 43% FG, 47% eFG.
02-03 Yao: 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 50% FG, 50% eFG.
Obviously, the number are not dead on, but they are extremely close if we’re comparing the two. It is also worth noting that Yao did not win Rookie of the Year in 2003, as he lost to Amar’e Stoudemire. But Yao is also a Hall of Fame finalist this season.
In Towns’ case he is lining up statistically from a per-game perspective with another elite player in Chris Webber. Webber’s 1993-94 rookie campaign looks a lot like Towns’ this year. Here are some basic numbers.
15-16 Towns: 17.4 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 54% FG, 55% eFG.
93-94 Webber: 17.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 55% FG, 55% eFG.
Webber went on to win Rookie of the Year in 1994, and will most certainly be a Hall of Fame finalist next year after being snubbed this year.
In the end, both of these players have had tremendous rookie campaigns. However, Kristaps Porzingis does not deserve this award. No matter how much the media may want him to win, Karl-Anthony Towns is far more deserving of the award.
Towns has excelled when his team has not this season, and is far and away the best rookie in the 2015 class. Not giving him the 2016 Rookie of the Year award would be a travesty in modern basketball.