The NBA rookies gathered in New York this past weekend for the annual rookie symposium and meetings along with the fan-favorite Panini American trading card photo shoot. There were a lot of fun videos coming out of that and we got to see some of the incredible personalities from this rookie class — including Magic rookies Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon.
This was a much-celebrated and much-hyped rookie class. There was a lot of excitement and remains a lot of excitement for what many of these players can do.
As part of the annual rookie get-together, John Schumann of NBA.com conducted his poll of the rookies for their projections of what their colleagues and draft-mates will do. The results were somewhat expected — Jabari Parker is expected to win Rookie of the Year and have the most successful career, much like Victor Oladipo was projected to after last year.
Where did the fourth and 10th overall picks land in the rookie poll?
Not well. Not certainly among the top rookies this year.
Elfrid Payton tied for fourth in the poll, receiving 5.6 percent of the votes from the rookies while Aaron Gordon was outside the top five in the dreaded “also receiving votes” category.
That should not be too much of a surprise. Both players are still relatively raw and in need of some development. Even on this young Magic team nobody is expecting them to take the world by storm and put up gaudy statistics. As we learned last year, raw statistics are probably going to decide the award.
The more pertinent question might be the second one Schumann asked: Which Rookie will have the best career?
That certainly does not bode well for the Magic’s two rookies who will be so key for the Magic’s continuing rebuild. A lot was riding on the two lottery picks in this draft. Obviously losing the Lottery hurt. Gordon was not a humongous stretch, but he obviously is much more raw than the players taken above him.
Gordon ranked third in most athletic and tied for fifth in best defender. Payton finished tied for third and was also among the top five in best playmakers.
Obviously, their peers are not the ultimate judges of who these players will be. There is going to be a lot of growth and development to come. Gordon is, in fact, the youngest player from last year’s NBA Draft. The sky really is the limit with him.
He just has to get there. And the one thing that is apparent is that he is not quite near his ceiling yet.
Same goes for Payton. Payton has a few years on Gordon having played in college for more than just the one year. I think the expectation is for Payton to have a better statistical season than Gordon in his rookie year.
We will see what happens as the years go on.