Who's the front runner for Rookie of the Year?

In a stacked 2021 NBA Draft Class, the race for Rookie of the Year honours is going to come down to the wire. Here's who's leading the way as we approach the new year.

Video Transcript

ARAIS FARAH: Give us just some quick thoughts on your belief in Evan Mobley's game, and where does the Rookie of the Year competition and rankings kind of go? I know there's a lot of hype with Evan Mobley's defense. And yes, defense is important. But me-- how I see the game is offense puts butts in the tickets, and the offensive guys get paid. The buckets get paid, the playmakers get paid, and Rudy got paid. But you know, that's like an anomaly.

Evan, especially in his own right, the offense is going to come. But how many offensive guys going 16 and 8 don't win Rookie of the Year? Tell me some of your thoughts on Evan and then the race.

ASAD ALVI: So a thing with Evan that he has going for him is that he plays for the Cavs. So the Cavs are playing well-- you can directly point to Evan Mobley and be like, he's the reason why they're as good as they are. Like, look at their defense this year. They're incredible. And that's unlocked them as from being a bottom feeder to being a legit good team. Even if the Raptors end up as a 6 seed, can you really say Scottie is the Rookie of the Year, the reason they're the 6 seed? Not really, because there's like-- there's a lot of other really good players that are growing into their roles, right?

If OG comes back, and the Raptors rip off, like, you know, 8 of 10, 8 of 11, it's like, well, OG Anunoby's going off [INAUDIBLE], right? So they just--

ARAIS FARAH: [INAUDIBLE]

ASAD ALVI: So there's not as much, like-- there's more things to point to for why the Raptors might do well than the Cavs would. Otherwise, Evan Mobley-- Evan Mobley is different in the sense of Scottie's really big, and you notice how big he is on the court. But he's still somewhat even, just size-wise-- he's a 6' 10", 6' 11" guy, so he's still even with-- Evan Mobley is, like, absurdly like-- he'll just-- you'll be like, all right, I think you stopped, and it's like, nah, nah, I'll just put my hand up, and I'm at the rim, right? Like--

ARAIS FARAH: Yup.

ASAD ALVI: It's just odd. It's like Brandon Ingram like randomly kicks off with--

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

ARAIS FARAH: With that foot speed. Oh my gosh.

ASAD ALVI: So it's crazy. And he's so skinny, and he covers so much ground with one stride. It's just odd to watch. So he's just a completely different type of crea-- I don't even know how to like-- every time I watch him, it's just I'm just amazed by how he moves. Just trying to understand how a player can even look the way he does and do all things he does.

ARAIS FARAH: He's a freak of nature.

ASAD ALVI: He's a freak of nature. And that's why I think the defense just looks amazing from him. And I think big guys by-- it's just, it is so vital for big guys to be good defenders. And for him to be legitimately-- and the talk is already kind of started where, like, hey, if he kinda keep playing like this, maybe he has an all-defense case, legitimately, which would be absurd for a rookie, right?

And then offensively, he does. He's still putting up good stats. He still gets you 13, 14 points. And he gets you rebounds, and he can pass the ball. It's going to be tough for Scottie, I think, to win Rookie of the Year straight out. Also, I think Cade's going to have-- like, he's the third guy in the race. He's on a really bad team, and he gets a ton of minute, and he's catching So

ARAIS FARAH: Hey, it looks good.

ASAD ALVI: At some point, you're going to have Cade playing 40 minutes a night in the February, March, April season. And it's like, all right.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

ARAIS FARAH: Going back to Evan's defense-- I'm a Scottie truther in this race. I think Scottie is number one, case and point. Just again, I value the offense a little more, especially on a team like the Raptors, where the big questions coming into the year were, where's the offense going to come from, right? And it all seems like it's Siakam or else, and now I feel a little more comfortable that we can go bucket-for-bucket with a lot of these teams this year.

Evan Mobley, in his own right, is playing with a wonderful seven-foot athletic defender in Jarrett Allen. Isaac Okoro has kind of taken the step. He's been dynamite this last month and a half. They kind of got a system, where we got these small guards, and we're going to surround them with a bunch of big-ass, long-arm wings. Even Lauri Markkanen doesn't look out of place there. So does that play, a little bit, into the conversation, where-- I mean, the Cavs have been a little more healthier.

You know, Darius Garland has been kind of taking the next step. He's looked fantastic. I don't think he's better than VanVleet yet, but he's-- the way that VanVleet has just been a spectacular point guard this year, Garland, in his own right, has been a 19-6, 19-7 guy. And then playing with Jarrett Allen, who he's been one of the more underrated bigs-- I hosted a spaces over the summer with Jake Fischer of "Bleacher Report," where he said, yeah, the Cavs think the biggest risk to losing Jarrett Allen is the Toronto Raptors.

What has Jarrett Allen done for that team? And do you think the voters and some of us might bring Evan Mobley down a notch a little bit, in terms of defensive impact just because, hey, they are really well-coached, they're tough, they're winning a lot of games, and it's not too shabby to play next to Jarrett Allen?

ASAD ALVI: I think it's going to end up being tough for the year. I think when it comes to the actual voting for the award, it's always kind of a crapshoot, because half the voters aren't watching the games, really, so they're just kind of going to vote however the big guys vote. When it comes to defense, most people aren't even watching for defense. So if they're told the guy is really good at defense, they just assume he's really good at defense, right? That's why a lot of people still think Scottie Barnes will lead defensively. I'm like, eh.

ARAIS FARAH: Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. He'll get there. Not yet.

ASAD ALVI: He's all right. He gets bullied by a lot, to be honest. So I think that's probably going to go away. Talking about the Cavs real quick, but like, Darius Garland-- it's such a good situation for him because it's basically, that team is made for a small guard, who can shoot 3's to get shots up, right? Like, if you put Trae Young in that system, he'd also-- like, it's made for him, where you got all these big screeners that you can play with.

ARAIS FARAH: Three seven [INAUDIBLE].

ASAD ALVI: You can throw the ball to them, and like-- you throw the ball to Evan Mobley in the high post, he's just holding the ball high while you're running around screens with the other big guys to get free, and he just drops you pass. Like, that's crazy, right? So Darius Garland-- he's been amazing. I don't want take anything away from him. But it's also like they have a really good fit situation there. And he's the high-usage offense guy, right? Especially with Sexton gone now, he's the only high-usage the offense guy.

So it's a cool situation. I don't know how the voters are going to end up doing it. I'll be honest-- I feel like there'll be some fatigue at some point. And it's going to be interesting. I think this is one of those Rookie of the Year races where it's like you have multiple, legitimate, good candidates, right? It's not like you're trying to pick between, like-- I have Malcolm Brogdon, who played the whole season. And he was way better, but he only played 30 games. Like it's not that situation where you're trying to get, you know, maybe an average player a Rookie of the Year Award, rather than, legit, you've got three potential superstars in the race right now.

ARAIS FARAH: All right. I got a couple of final comments to make-- or I guess, I'll put it to you, and then I'll answer. When it's all said and done, what's your top five redraft? When it's all said and done-- pretend you're in the year 2030-- you got-- we talked about Evan Mobley. We talked about Cade is making a comeback. He's been special. Scottie's been great. Josh Giddey looks fantastic. An unsung guy, Alperen Sengun-- I got him on my fantasy team. I got a League Pass. Seen a couple of Rockets games. They're buzzing. He's playing a lot more minutes. The other night, I think he had 19-11 and 5.

Suggs, up and down, shooting out. Well, Jalen Green, up and down, shooting not well. Where do you see this future top five 10 years from now, just based off of the 20 games? We'll be premature. Have some fun. YouTube comments, I know you guys are going to cry about it. You'll live.

ASAD ALVI: Yeah.

ARAIS FARAH: Go ahead.

ASAD ALVI: So here's my thing. Like, my whole thing is throughout the history of the NBA, the biggest, most skilled dudes are the guys who go with, right? Like, you've already got the proof in the pudding that Mobley's special. Like, they're not stiffs. Mobley is not a stiff. He's not. He's not. You know, James Wiseman might be a good player, but hey, for what we've seen so far, kind of a stiff, right?

ARAIS FARAH: Yup. Mobley's son is in high school, too.

ASAD ALVI: So like, with Evan Mobley-- I personally, even if we did a redraft right now, I'd pick you up Evan Mobley, number one, just because I love big guys, and the fact that he's so skilled, so big, so long, and that frickin' good, defensively-- and he's so mobile. Like, to be a mobile big is just like-- like, that makes you the most special player on the court. And with the way the league is going, where everybody needs to be highly skilled, that's my guy all the way. Like, Mobley is probably your number one. And then I'm taking Scottie second, because Scottie is the next biggest and--

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

ARAIS FARAH: Yes, sir.

ASAD ALVI: That's how it goes, right? And you know, Cade's great. I think I'd take Cade third. And it's just one of those things where it's like, man, do you need-- at that point, do you want, like, your point-of-attack guy to set everybody up to be the center of your offense? Or do you want, like, this unicorn-style? It's like, yo, do you want Giannis or Doncic? Like that's kind of what I'm thinking. It's like, man, it's a tough decision. I would go Giannis 'cause I like my big dudes, right?

ARAIS FARAH: That's fair.

ASAD ALVI: Like, no other team is going to have a guy for 'em, right? Other teams might have a guy for a Doncic or a Cade, but nobody's going to have a Giannis. There's one of those. That's a one-on-one type thing, right? So I think Scottie second, Cade third. And then after that, I'll be honest, this draft's got a lot of-- it's tough because right now the guys are doing really well in the draft I think you're probably just going to become elite role players and good starters. Like, Franz Wagner has been awesome, but is he going to be your star? Probably not. He's going to be, you know, like a really good starter in the league.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

--does some really interesting things. But I just don't trust slow-footed bigs from that region of the world.

ARAIS FARAH: And he's 6' 9".

ASAD ALVI: I'm like, man, you look-- like, I'm like, why do you look like Enes Kanter on defense? I cannot trust this. Enes Kanter-- if you remember, the first couple of years was elite, offensively. He was like, 120, 130 already. And then the defensive rating was like, 130, 140 defensively.

ARAIS FARAH: He's the third overall pick-- I forgot-- in the Valanciunas draft.

ASAD ALVI: Yeah. So it's tough, right? So but he's been really good. I don't really know if I have a four and five, to be honest with you. It's tough. I think Jalen Green still has the opportunity to be really good, but he also has the opportunity to be really bad. Like, his-- literally, you could be like, yeah, he could be a horrible gunner. You can be like, maybe like a Gerald Green. Or he could be like, legitimately, like a [INAUDIBLE]-type, right? Like, where it's just like, crazy athletic gunner. So it's just such a wide range of those guys. I think the top three, though, that I have for sure is those guys.

ARAIS FARAH: Set.

ASAD ALVI: I wouldn't put Suggs in my top five yet. I'll be honest with Suggs-- I personally, even before the draft-- and I would say in DMs because I don't want piss anybody off [? on TL. ?] I'm like, man, I just don't see it with him. I'm like, I know he's making these really good passes when he sees the passes. I know he's like-- when he gets downhill, he's like a bullet. But there's just something in his game. And I guess people always talk about Jrue Holiday as a comp. Where I'm like, offensively, it feels like, it's just not the same pace that I want from like my number-one guy, where he's just, like, beating you. Like, he's making a decision before you, and it's like, you're unstoppable.

And his jump shot is just like, I'm sure it'll be good at some point, but it's just not there. And I do not trust guards with iffy jump shots, 'cause I think a lot of the guards that have come into the league over the past few years-- and I blame Steph Curry, 'cause he's got everybody shooting 3's and jumping really long 3's. None of these kids really work on their jump shot as much. And the game has gotten so fast-paced that a lot of it's like, yo, if you're super athletic, or you're getting a ton of layups, getting a ton of paint looks in college and stuff like that, even if you're a guard. So a lot of these guards just can't shoot, and then they don't really learn to shoot. And they kind of like half-shooters, right? So that's my only issue with Suggs. So I kind of have him outside of my top five still.

ARAIS FARAH: His best shooting game was against us, damn near.

ASAD ALVI: But even then, it's like, yo, when you see him shoot, it's like, if it goes in, it goes in. But it's like, man, I--

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

ARAIS FARAH: You can live with it.

[LAUGHTER]

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