At the recent annual NBA Rookie Photo Shoot earlier this month in New York, NBA.com surveyed 39 rookies asking them seven questions about their rookie class.
One of the questions they asked was who they believe will be the 2017-18 Kia Rookie of the Year and surprisingly the ninth overall pick from the draft, Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. received the most votes finishing with 25.7 percent.
Smith was followed by Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball. The No. 2 overall pick was not far behind as he garnered 20 percent of the votes.
The top overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers Markelle Fultz came in third at 17.1 percent, while Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, Ben Simmons, who was the top overall pick by the 76ers last year but didn’t play a single game due to injury, and Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers all tied for fourth at 5.7 percent.
Kuzma earning some votes may come as a bit of a surprise as the Lakers drafted him with the 27th overall pick out of Utah, but he proved what he is capable of in the Las Vegas Summer League, earning Second Team All-NBA Summer League honors while also being named the MVP of the championship game.
Ball and Smith were also very impressive this summer, as they were both named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team. Ball was named the MVP of the league, averaging 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists while recording the only two triple-doubles in the history of the league.
Smith averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists for Dallas, demonstrating his outstanding athletic ability. While his fellow rookies may have given him the edge for Rookie of the Year, only once in the history of the survey have the rookies correctly predicted who would win the award, and that was in 2007 when they chose Kevin Durant.
Last year former Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Kris Dunn received the most votes at 29 percent. Dunn struggled mightily in his rookie season with Minnesota and has since been traded to the Chicago Bulls. Ultimately Milwaukee Bucks second-round pick Malcolm Brogdon won the award.
Ball and Smith will square off for the first time on Jan. 13 when the Mavericks host the Lakers.