After missing the playoffs last season, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers regrouped; in addition to changing its coaching staff, the team's makeup and respective system on the court changed. There were new faces, returning players were embraced with bigger roles, and the team benefitted from some assignment players down from the Houston Rockets.
Needless to say, there was plenty of change from last season, as well as a few moving parts along the way this year. And while the coaching staff deserves plenty of credit for the team's success, it helped that they had an ever steady presence in guard Will Cummings to lean on.
Cummings was strong all season long, but his growth as a professional player was all the more evident as the campaign went on. Embracing a very central role in the team's offense, he quickly flourished into a rather phenomenal prospect. He helped the Vipers achieve 29 wins, and the team boasted a division-best 13-5 record against its more local rivals. The young gun was ever the catalyst.
The 23 year old is an easily coachable player who takes all praise, criticism, and feedback to heart. Over the course of the season, he continued to make the necessary adjustments to his game, ensuring continuous success for RGV.
Cummings' role as a leader on the court never changed, though his exact duties and what his team needed from him on a nightly basis may have. Often times, he was looked as a scoring presence who paced his team offensively. He has an ability to pour in the points by being aggressive, getting to the basket with ease and drawing fouls. Cummings' own quickness can be infectious to those on the court with them, as the offense flowed and players moved well off the ball around him. Even as a first-year player, Cummings was clearly able to command the respect from his teammates necessary to run the team's offense.
His strong numbers are only further evidence of his stellar campaign: 20.5 points per game (on 47% from the field, 38% deep, and 79% from the line), 4.8 assists, and 1.9 steals. Cummings was not only the best rookie in all of the minor league this season, but also one of the most valuable and vital players to his team's success. It just so happened that a couple of veteran players above him led their teams to even more success than he did.
Still, for his own respective efforts, the Temple alum still deserves the appropriate recognition. With that in mind, Cummings has earned himself RidiculousUpside.com's Rookie of the Year award for the 2015-16 campaign.
Runner-up for RU's R.O.Y award: Briante Weber (Skyforce) whose 2.1 steals per contest were second in the league. He helped Sioux Falls set an NBADL wins record.
Last season's winner: Roscoe Smith, Los Angeles D-Fenders