|McCollum came into the NBA from a very non-traditional basketball powerhouse, small Lehigh University, which is located in a suburb of Philadelphia|
Every August, when the NBA's newly-drafted rookies participate in the Rookie Photo Shoot just a short drive north of Manhattan in Westchester, N.Y., they have to answer some tough questions in addition to posing for the cameras.
No, not hard questions like the Gotham Police ask The Joker in "The Dark Knight" in that dark interrogation room. Instead, the questions are more lighthearted, asking the league's new players what they think of their fellow rookies in terms of who they think will win the Rookie of the Year award, who is the best shooter, who is the most athletic, among others.
Regardless of what is asked to whom, however, the one query that is given the most attention by pundits and fans is always the Rookie of the Year inquiry. Everyone seems to be dying to know who will be chosen as the rookie version of the MVP award amongst that player's contemporaries.
And this year, the NBA's newbies equally picked two players for that distinction, as Victor Oladipo, an Indiana product and member of the Orlando Magic, and C.J. McCollum, a Lehigh grad and current Portland Trail Blazer, each garnered 24.2 percent of the vote.
Now, it is not completely stunning that Oladipo and McCollum, who had noted success in college, especially during the NCAA Tournament, would be recognized by their fellow rookies as two players that are most likely to be named the Rookie of the Year for the 2013-14 campaign.
What is surprising is that neither of the two was the No. 1 overall pick in June's Draft (that would be Anthony Bennett of UNLV, who was selected by the Cavaliers). Oladipo was picked 2nd and McCollum lasted until the 10th overall pick.
It is not often that there is a NBA Draft in which the top pick is not widely considered to be the best player selected just two months after the draft itself. Even more so, it is flat-out rare that someone picked 10th is viewed as a better player than any other pick from the No. 3 selection all the way until the No. 9 selection.
Sure, chalk up the divergence from the mean to the sources of the survey answers: immature and young men in their late teens or early 20s. It does go to say that there is nothing stopping Oladipo and McCollum from growing into the two best players to come out of this draft class. But, until the season starts, no legitimate judgements can be made because these guys have not played in an actual NBA game yet, be it preseason or regular season.
This is why the takeaway from the Rookie Survey should not be disbelief or anger in the choices for Rookie of the Year. It should just be a slight warning that the order in which rookies are drafted has no true bearing on NBA success.