Was Houston Rockets' Amen Thompson snubbed in Rookie of the Year voting?

Houston Rockets rookie Amen Thompson didn't get much love in the NBA's Rookie of the Year voting.
Houston Rockets rookie Amen Thompson didn't get much love in the NBA's Rookie of the Year voting. / Tim Warner/GettyImages

You should never begin a study with a preferred conclusion in mind. It goes against the scientific method. If you're asking a question, you should ask it in good faith - without assuming that you have the answer.

Recently, the results of the NBA's Rookie of the Year award were announced. Victor Wembanyama received every first-place vote. That comes as no surprise. Wembanyama was the league's best rookie by a massive margin.

Otherwise, Chet Holmgren was the runner-up. Brandon Miller came after him. Fair enough. Surely, Amen Thompson landed in the top six - right?

Wrong. Wembanyama, Holmgren, and Miller were a clear top three. We have to ask: did Thompson deserve votes over Jaquez Jr., Podziemski, or Lively II? So, we set out to answer that question using data.

Houston Rockets rookie was statistically impressive

We're going to look at a few numbers here. We'll rank each one of Thompson, Jaquez Jr., Podziemski, and Lively II according to Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) and Box Plus/Minus (BPM).

For the uninitiated, VORP is a box score estimate of the points per 100 team possessions that a player contributes above a replacement-level player. BPM similarly tries to weigh a player compared to an average rotation player.

In other words, each stat tries to measure how much better a player is than an average NBA player. Still, advanced stats aren't for everyone, so we'll also look at the basic counting stats of each player per 75 possessions. Per 75 is generally held to be the best measure of individual stats because on average, an NBA starter will play 75 possessions in a game.

Without further ado...


Amen Thompson: 1.3

Brandin Podziemski: 0.9

Derrick Lively II: 0.8

Jaime Jaquez Jr: -0.1


Amen Thompson: 1.8

Derrick Lively II: 0.5

Brandin Podziemski: -0.1

Jaime Jaquez Jr.: -1.9

Stats Per 75 Possessions

Amen Thompson:

15.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks

Jaime Jaquez Jr.

15.75 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.4 blocks

Brandin Podziemski

12.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.2 blocks

Derrick Lively II

13.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.2 blocks

Houston Rockets rookie deserved more love

The numbers tell a story. They tell the story of a rookie who was strangely overlooked in the league's award-voting process.

We're not trying to knock anybody on this list. Each of these young men has impressive potential. Still, both VORP and BPM suggest that Thompson was substantially more impactful than his competition.

What gives?

In the case of Lively II, we can understand to a degree. He played a vital role for a serious title contender. Voters may have opted to reward his role in the Mavericks' success.

That doesn't fly for Podziemski. Sure, the Warriors won five more games than the Rockets. That alone shouldn't compensate for the fact that Thompson's statistical profile is considerably more impressive.

That argument holds double for Jaquez. His Heat won the same number of games as the Warriors - in the Eastern Conference. Thompson was better than Jaquez by every statistical measure, and if we're adjusting for difficulty of schedule, the Rockets arguably had a better season than the Heat.

So, we ask again:

What gives?

Houston Rockets rookie doesn't need awards

Thompson did suffer a midseason injury. He may have lost some votes on account of his availability. Still, that feels like a flimsy explanation for a player who appeared in 62 games.

Here's a simpler explanation - the voters got it wrong. In the end, it's inconsequential. Thompson is going to have a tremendous NBA career.

We're already comfortable drawing that conclusion.