Can another first-year player beat out Victor Wembanyama for NBA Rookie of the Year?
In recent years, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft hasn't automatically ended up taking home the hardware as the league's best rookie. In fact, when Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero won last season, he was the first top pick to win since Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015-16. Another No. 1 pick, Ben Simmons, won in 2017-18 -- a year removed from being drafted in 2016, having missed his entire first season because of a foot injury.
Since then, more No. 3 picks (LaMelo Ball and Luka Doncic) have won Rookie of the Year than players taken in the top spot. Still, Wembanyama will enter the season as a heavy ROY favorite after earning MVP and Best Defender honors at age 19 playing in his native France while earning generational hype in the process.
Let's take a look at the field of candidates looking to unseat Wembanyama by utilizing my player stats projections and looking at the history of the Rookie of the Year award typically going to the first-year player with the highest combination of points, rebounds and assists per game.