New York Knicks: RJ Barrett’s top five challengers for NBA Rookie of the Year

(Photo by Ryan McGilloway/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ryan McGilloway/NBAE via Getty Images) /
3 of 6
(Photo by Sean Berry/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Berry/NBAE via Getty Images) /

4. Cameron Reddish

12 months ago, Cameron Reddish entered college basketball as one of the game’s top players. He positioned himself as a potential top-three pick in the 2019 NBA Draft without playing a second, and forming a trio with Zion Williamson and the New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett had them destined for success.

Just games into the season, though, Barrett and Williamson were superior to Reddish, and it never became close. The former two led the Blue Devils and filled up the stat sheets like the All-American players everyone expected to see.

Reddish fell into the background, after struggles shooting the basketball, and these issues never disappeared. It tanked his draft stock, landing with the Atlanta Hawks at No. 10, but that does not mean imminent success is impossible. In fact, if he steps up to play next to Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, there is a chance for the NBA’s best award for first-year players.

Sometimes, it just takes players leaving the uninspiring college setting, especially as a one-and-done talent. Reddish was perceived to have the physical talent as a long, athletic player, and if the basketball play matched that, he had the chance to take off.

Playing behind Barrett and Williamson also limited Norristown, PA product’s chances, and while Huerter and Young will have their chances, they are hardly one of the NBA’s most dominant backcourts, yet. Reddish can force his way into the conversation as an efficient player who rises to the level once expected from him, but those expectations should still be tempered.

Side note: In the 2019-20 NBA Rookie Survey, Reddish received the most votes for the “Which rookie will have the best career?” category.