Brooklyn Nets: Best candidates for each NBA award in 2018-19

SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 25: A general view of atmosphere at the 2018 NBA Awards at Barkar Hangar on June 25, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 25: A general view of atmosphere at the 2018 NBA Awards at Barkar Hangar on June 25, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner Sports) /
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Brooklyn Nets
BROOKLYN, NY – JUNE 22: General Manager SeanMarks of the Brooklyn Nets poses for a photo at the Post NBA Draft press conference with Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs on June 22, 2018 at the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Rookie of the Year

The NBA Rookie of the Year is given to the best first-year player in the league The word “rookie” was highly debated last season between Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons. Mitchell’s definition of a rookie is a player’s first year in the league, regardless if they play or not.

On the other hand, Simmons classified a rookie as a player who played his first year in the NBA. Keep in mind, Simmons sat out what was supposed to be his rookie season due to injury.

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  • Technically speaking, last season was Simmons’ first year playing so that put him under the category of a rookie player. It’s not an unprecedented scenario — Blake Griffin was Rookie of the Year in 2010-11 after missing the 2009-10 season because of a knee injury.

    The Brooklyn Nets will have at least a couple of rookies on their roster.

    Out of that small rookie group, only Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs are expected to spend the majority of the 2018-19 season on the Nets roster rather than with Brooklyn’s G League affiliate team, the Long Island Nets.

    Both players were taken by Brooklyn in the 2018 NBA Draft. Musa was selected 29th overall while Kurucs was selected at No. 40. Both of the selections may have come as a surprise to Nets fans.

    Musa, who played with Cedevita in Croatia before entering the draft, has bright expectations, but little flaws to his game. Due to his physical size, it is debatable whether or not his strong driving game will translate over to the NBA.

    Even if his driving game does not translate over well, his mid-range game will be similar. Musa shot 60.3 percent from inside the arc last season, which could be a big part of his game with the Nets next season.

    Despite the worries about his driving game translating over to the NBA, he has shown he can shoot the ball from deep.

    During his three seasons with Cedevita, Musa shot 34.9 percent (2015-16), 32.7 percent (2016-17) and 31.3 percent (2017-18). To break down his 3-point shooting even more, he shot 1.7 attempts per game in 2015-16, 2.8 in 2016-17 and 4.0 in 2017-18.

    This shows 3-point shooting has been an area Musa is confident in, but can this translate over to the NBA? His numbers from behind the arc compared to good 3-point shooters in the NBA categorize Musa as a below-average 3-point shooter.

    The average last season in the NBA as a whole was 36.2 percent. Even though Musa’s career 3-point shooting average is below the NBA average, he can still be one of Brooklyn’s go-to 3-point shooters.

    With potential on the offensive end comes worry on the defensive end. As said before, Musa’s physical size can play a negative factor not just on the offensive end, but more on  defense. Opposing players will target Musa on the defensive end.

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  • He will need some time to adjust to NBA play and learn how to defend without getting into foul trouble against bigger players. A bright side to his defense is stealing. Musa can use his length to poke the ball from drivers and force turnovers.

    With all of this being said, Musa might be the Nets best fit for Rookie of the Year, but he will not win the award. The competition for Rookie of the Year will be intense next season.

    Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley and Luka Doncic are the favorites for the award. With that said, Musa can be the best Nets candidate for the award, but will most likely not be in the conversation.

    Rodions Kurucs is the other Nets rookie who is expected to be on the Nets roster for a good amount of time during the 2018-19 season. Like Musa, Kurucs is an international player who played overseas before entering the 2018 NBA Draft.

    Since 2015, Kurucs has played for FC Barcelona in Spain. In those three years, Kurucs has jumped around on Barcelona’s divisions. He spend time with FC Barcelona Junior and FC Barcelona B.

    Kurucs has a similar playing style to Musa. He can shoot the ball from behind the arc and has an average mid-range game. Kurucs likes to focus is game inside the arc. His driving game is a confident area of the floor for Kurucs and unlike Musa, he has a better NBA body.

    He has a decent frame, but is still undersized physically compared to other wings.

    On the defensive end, he is an average defender, but plays competitive defense. Kurucs likes to lockdown his guard and not give him much room. Like Musa, he uses his length to poke balls out of drivers hands and force turnovers.

    Now with that said, Kurucs may be Brooklyn’s best rookie next season, but the chances of him getting the Rookie of the year award are slim to none.