Every year, the National Basketball Association gives the award to the best rookie of the past season. The Rookie of the Year is decided by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters from the United States and Canada, which also decides the second and the third place.
It all started nearly seven decades ago, but only five players born outside the US have won the award in the meantime. Those guys include Andrew Wiggins from Canada, who won the award last year, and Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons who were born in Australia, but both who have American parents.
Pau Gasol of Spain and Patrick Ewing of Jamaica are the only Rookie of the Year recipients who had no previous ties to the United States before arriving in the NBA. But, maybe another such player is about to join them. Born and raised in Slovenia, Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks' shooting guard, is the biggest favorite to win the award this season.
The son of a Slovenian mother and Serbian father, Luka Dončić started his professional career in Spain. He played for Real Madrid for three seasons before moving to Dallas to play for the Mavericks. During his time in Spain, Dončić won the EuroLeague MVP award, becoming the youngest player to achieve such a feat.
While he was still in Europe, he became a part of the Slovenian national basketball team which won the EuroBasket title in 2017. Still, the moment that marks his rise to prominence on the global stage is the year 2018 when he became a regular in the squad of Dallas Mavericks.
He made his senior debut for Mavericks on October 17, 2018, since when he's featured in another 71 games, scoring 21.2 points on average per game, with six assists on average, as well as 7.8 total rebounds. Obviously, it's not a major surprise he's the number one favorite for winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2019.
Trae Young & Jaren Jackson
Luka Dončić is shortlisted for the award together with two other players, namely Trae Young and Jaren Jackson. According to sportsbooks, it's almost impossible for Dončić not to win the award, which the odds of -10,000 clearly prove.
The second favorite for becoming the Rookie of the Year 2019 is Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks' point guard, who has a pretty impressive season behind him. And the player that's most likely to come in third in the voting is Jaren Jackson, a power forward playing for Memphis Grizzlies.