There were no significant surprises when NBA officials released the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year Award voting totals Monday.
In yet another sign that voters tend to place a higher emphasis on offensive production than on defensive contributions, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Michael Carter-Williams won the award in a landslide, finishing well ahead of the runner-up, the Orlando Magic’s Victor Oladipo.
Carter-Williams received 104 of a possible 124 first-place votes and finished with 569 total points in the voting.
Oladipo garnered 16 first-place votes and totaled 364 points.
Asked on April 17 to assess his rookie season, Oladipo said, “I think I did all right for myself. There’s a lot of room for growth and a lot of room for improvement.”
If voters judged by traditional statistics alone, Carter-Williams should’ve been the obvious winner. The Sixers point guard averaged 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game and joined Oscar Robertson and Alvan Adams as the only players since the 1950-51 season to lead all rookies in points, rebounds and assists.
Oladipo, who was playing point guard for the first time in his career, posted averages of 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
But a player’s defensive contributions should be considered, too, and Oladipo made a bigger positive impact on defense than Carter-Williams did.
When Oladipo was on the court, the Magic limited opponents to 102.7 points per 100 possessions, according to the NBA’s official statistics database. When Oladipo was on the bench, the Magic were much less effective on defense, allowing teams to score 108.5 points per 100 possessions.
Oladipo’s focus on the defensive end of the court was a primary reason why Magic officials decided to play him at point guard.
“He was able to sustain the ups and downs of a rookie season, of being able to bounce back from a game that he wasn’t pleased with, to be able to have multiple games where he played extremely well,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said shortly after the season ended.
“There was a tremendous amount of learning that took place, and he’s in a good place right now.”
The Sixers were a worse defensive team with Carter-Williams.
Philadelphia allowed 108.1 points per 100 possessions when Carter-Williams was on the court and 106.5 points per 100 possessions when Carter-Williams was on the bench.
Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke finished third in the voting. Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee placed fourth. And New York Knicks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. was fifth.
The 2013-14 rookie class was billed as one of the worst rookie classes in recent memory, and the group struggled — especially the players selected in the top 10.
The Magic chose Oladipo second overall, while the Jazz used the ninth overall pick to choose Burke. Oladipo and Burke were the only top-10 picks to be named on anyone’s Rookie of the Year ballot.
The Sixers picked Carter-Williams 11th overall. Plumlee was the 22nd pick. And Hardaway was the 24th pick.
It’s unclear whether Oladipo will continue to play point guard in his second season. The answer may depend on whom the Magic select in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft.
Asked to look ahead to the future, Oladipo said, “Hopefully, Chapter 2 is better than Chapter 1.”
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.