Gentlemen, start your careers.


As eager as NBA fans are for the start of the 2022-23 season, the rookies who make up the Class of 2022 are pumped to get going, period. Shaking commissioner Adam Silver’s hand on draft night was one thing; suiting up and playing in actual NBA regular-season competition is a whole other level.

For top picks such as Orlando’s Paolo Banchero, Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr., Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and Detroit’s Jaden Ivey, their lofty draft positions portend lucrative and decorated careers, starting with All-Rookie recognition and leading in time to All-Star berths and championship rings.

For one of the newcomers, there will be a special prize in about eight months: the Kia Rookie of the Year Award. And chances are, if it doesn’t come from one of the names mentioned above, the winner will be one of the 14 players selected as 2022 lottery picks.

It’s no sure thing, though it’s awfully close. Since the lottery began in 1985, 39 of the players who have won the 37 ROY awards (with two ties) have been lottery picks. The only exceptions: New York’s Mark Jackson in 1988, the No. 18 pick overall in the previous spring’s draft; and Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon in 2017, rising up from No. 36 overall.

Only two other times in the lottery era has the award even gone to a player picked later than No. 6. That happened in 2003 with Phoenix’s Amar’e Stoudemire (9th overall in 2002) and again in 2014 with Michael Carter-Williams (11th overall).