Connect with us


2023 ROTY Candidates

John Minchillo / AP

The 2023-2024 preseason hype machine is well under way. Who will make the NBA Finals? Who will win MVP? Which teams will surprise and underwhelm? Who will win Rookie of the Year? Well, we’ve given into the hype machine and it feels amazing. 

There will be plenty of young first-year players coming out of the 2023 NBA Draft as well as anyone who missed their rookie season from the year prior and any first-year players coming to the league internationally. If you want to see where we hit and missed on the 2023 NBA Draft, check out our mock draft piece here. Who will be the Rookie of the Year in 2023? These are the most likely candidates heading into the new season.


Victor Wembanyama 

Eric Gay / AP Photo


Victor Wembanyama is the clear favorite this year to win ROTY. There is no doubt about that from the fan’s perspective as well as the oddsmakers in Vegas. The French center was drafted number-one overall in the 2023 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. Wembanyama is arguably the most hyped NBA prospect ever and will have high expectations in his first year. 

The Spurs will have a solid supporting cast around him and could make a push for the Play-In Tournament this season. Cedi Osman, Reggie Bullock and Cameron Payne were all acquired as parts of larger trades in the offseason. The Spurs will have a well-crafted balance of youthful core players and veteran role players to assist with a push towards the postseason. 

The only aspect of Wembanyama’s game that could hold him back would be the potential for injuries with his long and slender frame. Gregg Popovich signed a five-year extension to continue coaching with the Spurs so Wembanyama will have the support and patience needed to help make the big man a possible superstar in the NBA. Just stay away from slippery spots on the court!


Chet Holmgren 

Stephen R. Sylvanie / USA TODAY Sports


Chet Holmgren has the best odds to win this award outside of Wembanyama by far. Holmgren was sidelined all of last season due to a Lisfranc injury to his foot while playing in the Crawsover Pro-Am League. The former Bulldog was drafted second overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2022 behind the current Rookie of the Year, Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic.

The Minnesota native reportedly gained around thirteen pounds to his frame during his time recovering which is a step in the right direction to handle the rigors of the long NBA season. The young center still has a long path ahead of him to fill out his frame though in order to take the abuse down low from far stronger fives in the league.

Holmgren’s high selection in last year’s draft was due to a combination of tremendous length, lateral quickness, defensive footwork, adept outside shooting and finesse around the rim. The rookie will introduce a much needed rim-protector to a Thunder team that was sorely lacking a consistent defensive post presence the previous season. 

Holmgren will have plenty of opportunities to flourish in the Thunder’s offensive plans as well. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey will be the primary ball-handlers and play initiators and Holmgren will be a willing beneficiary of their on-court gravity and presence. Holmgren will be on the receiving end of countless pick-and-roll opportunities playing alongside two dynamic playmakers. The center will have chances to dive to the rim for lobs and pick-and-roll/dribble handoff looks towards the top of the key for three-point attempts or attacks off the catch to get favorable matchups in the mid-range. 

Holmgren could easily average fifteen to twenty points a game strictly playing off the Thunder’s current core and will likely average close to double digits in rebounds with a few blocks per game. The upside is there for Holmgren and we will see if the big man will capitalize on the exceptionally favorable situation he finds himself in.


Scoot Henderson 

Yahoo Sports!


Scoot Henderson, you could say, was one of the victims of circumstance in this year’s NBA Draft. Henderson likely would’ve been a number-one overall pick in a handful of drafts in recent memory but landed in a draft class with Wembanyama. 

This forced the Charlotte Hornets at number-two into a position where the team needed to either draft the best player available or select a player based on organizational fit and need. The Hornets, in typical Hornets fashion, opted towards team fit with Brandon Miller which will potentially turn out to be another swing and miss on their part with a second selection (cough cough… Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.) 

That is no slight to Miller, who is an excellent fit with the Hornets current roster makeup based on his skillset coming out of Alabama, but sometimes you have to ignore fit when it comes to a player as talented as Henderson and find a way to make it jive with LaMelo Ball. That being said, the Portland Trail Blazers getting Henderson with the third selection will go down as the biggest steal of this draft in hindsight. 

The situation for the Trail Blazers organization is still slightly awkward with Damian Lillard requesting a trade earlier in the offseason and that request has yet to be fulfilled. Henderson is the future of the franchise though, paired with young pieces like Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe and a proven veteran star presence in Jerami Grant

Henderson should have a stellar rookie season but may not have the firepower or roster construction to take the crown. The Georgia product is a future All-Star at his position however so losing out on Rookie of the Year will likely be the least of his worries.


Sasha Vezenkov

Le Quotidien du Sport


Aleksandar “Sasha” Vezenkov is one of the dark horse candidates for Rookie of the Year. Vezenkov is finally making the jump to the NBA after playing in Europe for a handful of years. The Bulgarian forward was selected in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Brooklyn Nets with his draft rights being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2021 and then to the Sacramento Kings in 2022. 

Vezenkov signed a three-year twenty million-dollar deal with the Kings this offseason in what could be the most shrewd free agent signing of the year. The twenty-seven year old is coming off a season with Olympiacos Piraeus where the forward won EuroLeague MVP and averaged 17.7 ppg on .546/.398/.857 shooting splits. 

Vezenkov is a highly decorated professional in Europe, having won three GBL MVP’s, two GBL championships and two GBL Cups. Vezenkov will add even more spacing to a historically potent Kings offense. The Cyprus native will benefit from a talented core of De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Harrison Barnes in tandem with valuable pieces like Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, Keegan Murray and Davion Mitchell

Vezenkov will likely see rotational minutes on the second team to start but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the starting lineup by season’s end. Vezenkov will be an eager recipient of Fox’s drive and kicks behind the arc and Sabonis pick-and-roll/dribble-handoff and post-up facilitation. The European veteran will be able to hit three-point daggers with a quick shot release or attack closeouts and hunt mismatches in the mid-range. This can lead to easy shots from ten to fifteen feet out or draw fouls at the basket with a stout frame and an extremely accurate shot from the free-throw line.

The Kings stand to gain tremendously from this signing after retaining their core from last year. The organization’s season ended at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in a fierce seven-game battle. Vezenkov may be the type of addition that can push the Kings over the top to compete with the reigning 2022 NBA champion Denver Nuggets and the star-laden Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference.


Honorable Mentions 

La Presse


Amen Thompson, Cam Whitmore and Vasilije Micić all deserve mentions here. Thompson and Whitmore will benefit from a revamped Houston Rockets roster and will operate in a more disciplined offense under new head coach Ime Udoka. The addition of Fred VanVleet will hurt Thompson’s chances to handle the ball more as a distributor, but he should see significant minutes in the rotation. Just not the kind of minutes that will result in Rookie of the Year consideration. 

Whitmore will see a similar issue this season with minutes behind offseason acquisition Dillon Brooks but the Villanova forwards stock rose after winning the 2023 NBA Summer League MVP. Whitmore will be a solid rotational piece for the Rockets presently and hopefully in the coming years will be a more integral part of the team’s success. 

Micić has finally made his way to the NBA after being selected in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and had his draft rights traded to the Thunder in 2020. Micić enters the NBA with a similar resume to Vezenkov: 2021 EuroLeague MVP, two back-to-back EuroLeague championships and three BSL championships playing most recently for Anadolu Efes. The Serbian guard won’t start for the Thunder but will be a valuable member of the second unit and strengthen the team’s young core with a veteran presence with European championship experience. 

Micić can hit above NBA league average from behind the arc and facilitate well with a highly accurate stroke from the charity stripe. Micić won’t see the kind of minutes to put him in strong consideration for the award but if the Thunder see any injuries from their young core, the well-seasoned guard could help the franchise stay afloat for postseason aspirations. 

The notable absence of Brandon Miller here is not a mistake. Miller will likely struggle in his rookie year under the dysfunction and disarray of the Hornets organization. Miller is a streaky shooter and scorer and that inconsistency was highlighted in the NCAA Tournament this year. The Alabama alum may find success in the NBA but it won’t be for a few years until the forward can find his footing and become more reliable in his role.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Articles

Featured Writers

More in Features