Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell finished ninth in rookie of the year voting for the 2015-16 season, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN's the Undefeated. Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, received just one third place vote in the final tally. Karl-Anthony Towns, the first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, was the fifth unanimous Rookie of the Year in NBA history.
Russell was not expected to win the award after a season in which he averaged 13.2 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 41 percent from the field in 28.2 minutes per game during an uneven campaign. While it's easy to get upset over Russell not finishing higher in the race based on some of the highest highs of his season, it is also hard to make an argument that he was definitively better than the eight players finishing above him in the voting.
This author would argue Russell has a case that he was better than Emmanuel Mudiay and Myles Turner, but when factoring in that box score watching, Byron Scott quote reading, and (fairly or not) Russell's leaked video incident with Nick Young likely factoring into the voting of the national media it's not exactly surprising he finished as low as he did.
Russell's ninth place finish also makes it seem unlikely that the Lakers will have guards on the NBA's All-Rookie first team for the second consecutive year after Jordan Clarkson received the honor a year ago, because guards Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Emmanuel Mudiay of the Denver Nuggets both finished ahead of Russell in these voting results.
The good news is that this is not the end for Russell, and will likely serve as motivation for him during a summer in which he's already back in the gym looking to make the improvements necessary to have more success next season.
The national media may have decided Russell was the ninth best rookie this year, but based on his youth and potential, it's hard not to believe he will end up much more highly ranked in his draft class when his career is all said and done. For evidence such a jump is possible, look no further than the Lakers most recent franchise player not receiving any votes for rookie of the year.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.