Early Top 10 NBA Rookie of the Year Candidates

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Top 10 Rookie Of The Year Candidates

Joe Camporeale – USA Today Sports

It’s always difficult to predict how a rookie will perform at the NBA level.

With every draft, lottery teams have lofty expectations for the players that will be selected in the top spots. Some teams have bad luck drafting, while others able to find solid players late in the first or even the second round. The reality is that no one really knows what they're getting until a few years after the draft.

This year’s class was considered weak, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t quality players available. Several big men were selected among the top 15 picks, and there are also plenty of high-volume scorers that should be able to translate their offensive skills into solid NBA careers.

The top picks, as always, carry a chip on their shoulders from the moment the commissioner calls their names. Some are considered to be saviors of a struggling franchise and in some other cases, they could be dubbed as the perfect complement for an already young core that’s poised to contend in the short term.

There are other times when the team is building a young foundation from the scratch, which means that the rookies usually have a better chance to get consistent playing time. Nevertheless, all the players that will be mentioned here are extremely talented, and their respective teams have high hopes on what they can do in their first year in the league.

Without further ado, join me through this slideshow as we check the top 10 rookies that should be in contention for the Rookie of the Year award.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google

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10. Kelly Olynyk

Howard Smith – USA Today Sports

The rebuilding Boston Celtics will give their young players plenty of chances to get experience, and Kelly Olynyk seems poised to take advantage of the opportunity. He’s not the most polished player, but he gives a 110 percent percent and hustles every ball. He could have a very good year if he’s able to develop chemistry with Rajon Rondo.

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9. Cody Zeller

Sam Sharpe – USA Today Sports

Highly regarded as one of the top big men in this year’s draft, Cody Zeller should see a lot of minutes playing for the Charlotte Bobcats. They aren’t going anywhere this year, but if Zeller is able to translate his polished game into the NBA level, he might turn a few heads due to his impressive skill set.

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8. Trey Burke

Russell Isabella – USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz guard is currently sidelined with a finger injury and he had trouble adjusting to the NBA pace in preseason. When healthy, he’ll be given plenty of chances to manage the offense at Salt Lake City and the sooner he adjusts to the speed of the game, the better chances he’ll have of winning the honor.

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7. Otto Porter

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Otto Porter should have no problems in winning a starting job with the Washington Wizards as the season advances. If he’s able to perform consistently in his first year, he might be a favorite to win the award. Porter is a polished player offensively that should thrive next to Bradley Beal and John Wall.

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6. Alex Len

Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

The Ukranian seven-footer should see plenty of minutes with the Phoenix Suns after the departure of Marcin Gortat. He’s still raw offensively, but he’s a beast on the defensive end, where he should be able to make an impact immediately.

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5. Anthony Bennett

David Manning - USA Today Sports

The first overall pick of this draft had mixed reviews as most people thought it was a reach by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He will have to battle for minutes against Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao, but if he’s able to adapt quickly, he should have a solid year. A shaky debut, however, didn’t help his cause.

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4. Shabazz Muhammad

Howard Smith – USA Today Sports

Selected with the no. 14 pick by the Utah Jazz and traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Shabazz Muhammad should thrive next to Ricky Rubio. He’s been labeled as inconsistent, but he’s a deadly player when he finds his groove. He’s a dark horse candidate to win the award if he’s able to contribute on a steady basis.

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3. Ben McLemore

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings guard landed on a troubled team, but that doesn’t mean his play will be affected. Regarded as the best pure scorer in this class, he has the potential to score in bunches if he gets hot at any minute. If he’s able to do it consistently, he should have an above-average rookie season.

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2. Victor Oladipo

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA Today Sports

The Orlando Magic swingman showed he can do it all in preseason, and he will be a threat at both ends of the court this season. The fact that the Magic aren’t going anywhere this season could help his cause as he will have plenty of opportunities to showcase himself against top opposition.

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1. Michael Carter-Williams

Howard Smith – USA Today Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers point guard took the league by storm with his debut against the Miami Heat, where he almost got a triple-double. His electric playing style and the fact that he’ll have plenty of chances to lead the Sixers' offense automatically make him one of the safest bets to claim the award once it’s all said and done.