There are some rookies who use their first year in the NBA D-League as a transitional period to playing basketball. They take things slowly, soak everything in, and learn little by little. There's nothing wrong with this approach, but there's no denying that such youngsters may take a little longer to come into own and become quality contributors on competitive teams.
But alas, then there are also those who hit the ground running, already prepared to embrace a steady role and serve as a man amongst boys.
With that in mind, Roscoe Smith appears to fall into the latter class. Like many of the more talented D-League players out there, Smith is a rather versatile talent. His 11 rebounds per contest this season ranked fifth in the league. One of the better offensive rebounders in all of the league, Smith understands quite well how to muscle his way inside, use his body, and back down opposing defenders down in the low post. On the other end of the floor, he averaged just a shade under 1 steal through 49 games.
Smith warranted interest from NBA teams over the course of his rookie campaign, and rightfully so. As good as Smith was while doing much of the dirty work for the Los Angeles D-Fenders this season, he more than held his own with the ball in his hands. If his 18.1 point average wasn't impressive enough, the fact that he was still able to amp up his production, alongside two of the D-League's top three leading scorers (Jabari Brown and Vander Blue) says even more. Smith is able to contribute and make his mark, all the while, playing alongside other high-level prospects.
His evident ability to stand out on a nightly basis, coupled with a dominating double-double average, has earned Smith RidiculousUpside.com's Rookie of the Year honors for the 2014-15 NBA D-League season.
It's hard to argue that many other players are as equally as deserving as Smith.
Runner-up for RU's R.O.Y. award: Sioux Falls Skyforce big man Khem Birch, who averaged a near double-double with 11.2 points and 9.6 rebounds. He also led all of the D-League with an eye-popping 70% shooting from the field.
Last season's winner: Red Claws' guard Frank Gaines.