By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

The health of the National Basketball League has never been better. Once Michael Jordon retired years ago, there was a slight lull in the excitement of the league. A few short years later, Kobe Bryant and Shaq teamed up in Los Angeles to win their championships. Whether in Cleveland, Miami or Los Angeles LeBron James has been a lightning rod for hoop fans across the nation.

For a few solid years there have been serious debates on who should win the league annual Rookie of the Year award. For much of the season last year Atlanta Hawks Guard Trae Young, Phoenix Sun’s Center Deandre Ayton and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and each had season’s worth receiving this historical recognition. Before the award was presented to the Mavericks young Guard.

Each season, a selected panel of NBA sportswriters and broadcasters place their votes for this annual award. They each make their first, second, and third-place votes with each vote worth five points, three points, and one point, respectively. The player with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, is awarded the Rookie of the Year award.

The first selected player in each year’s draft doesn’t always win this award or even equal long term success however twenty-one winners were drafted first overall and only sixteen winners have also won the NBA Most Valuable Player award in their careers; spectacularly, Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld are the only guys to have earned both honors their inaugural season. Nineteen of the forty-two Rookie of the Year winners have been elected to the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The 2017-2018 Rookie of the Year Award race has some similarities to this year’s race, in the way that Joel Embiid was larger recognized as the most talented player in the league though injuries limited his availability and number of games he played in during the season. That being said Malcolm Brogdon, the savvy and efficient Milwaukee Bucks Guard was then named the Rookie of the Year.

An odd draft-day trade in 2018-2019 Dallas acquired Doncic as part of a draft-night trade last June that saw Young dealt to the Hawks. No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft DeAndre Ayton was a finalist for the Rookie of the Year as well. The superior talent of Doncic, 20-year-old Slovenia and his overseas professional basketball experience, set him apart from the other in that year’s competition.

Some argued that by winning EuroLeague MVP and EuroLeague Final Four MVP honors and assisting lead Real Madrid to the 2018 championship should’ve eliminated him from the Rookie of the Year competition. Doncic did average 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.3 threes in 72 appearances for the Mavs. However, this was his first year playing basketball in the NBA so that should’ve silenced those that argued against him.

The leaders in the clubhouse for this season’s NBA Rookie of Year award is Memphis Grizzlies Ja Morant and New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson. In similar fashion to the 2017-2018 race, both men have impressed this season though Zion has played significantly fewer games than the explosive Morant.

Strangely enough, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are competing for the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoff race.

Although injuries limited his availability, the former Duke standout, Zion Williamson has had the league on edge, eagerly anticipating his debut in the NBA. Having recorded 11 games of 20+ points for the Pelicans. Zion, additionally, has scored 30 plus points in 3 games through this point in the season in spectacular fashion. But only playing 15 games thus far in the season, should that make him a viable candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award.

Coming out of the little-known Murray State University, Ja Morant has been nothing less than impressive during his initial NBA campaign. Not only has he led the Memphis Grizzlies into the Western Conference playoff race, he has also played the entire season and done so exciting fashion! By averaging 17.7 points per game, 7.0 assists while shooting 49.2% throughout the season there’s little argument that the Grizzlies have elevated to this level behind his leadership.

Even though there are under 30 games to play in the season, who would you select to win the 2019-2020 NBA Rookie of the Year Award? Kindly share your thoughts with us by simply commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or by following me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport for immediate engagement. Additionally, subscribe to our weekly “Voice of the Fans Podcast” which is available for you on most podcasting platforms, Apple and Google Podcasts including Spotify, TuneIn, and iHeart Radio. As always, we certainly appreciate you for making our voice your choice!