During last week's Rookie Photo Shoot (sponsored by Panini), first-year players selected in June's NBA Draft were polled on a number of subjects. The results of that poll were published by NBA.com on Wednesday and, perhaps not surprisingly, Heat rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson were not considered among the top prospects from this incoming draft class.
Jahlil Okafor, selected third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, was considered the top Rookie of the Year candidate, garnering 41.9 percent of the vote (a total of 36 rookies took part in the voting process). Detroit's Stanley Johnson - who many experts expected to slide to Miami with the 10th pick in the draft - was second, with 19.4 percent. Karl-Anthony Towns, the first overall pick, was third in the voting with 12.9 percent. Denver's Emmanuel Mudiay and the Lakers' D'Angelo Russell tied for fourth (with 9.7 percent), while Trey Lyles (of Utah) and Willie Cauley-Stein (of Sacramento) also received votes.
Okafor again topped the poll when asked which rookie would have the best career, finishing with 24.1 percent of the vote. Towns (17.2 percent) was second while Dallas' Justin Anderson tied with Mudiay for third (with 13.8 percent). Winslow and Richardson were shut out completely, with a total of eight other players receiving at least one vote.
Winslow at least garnered some votes for the biggest steal of the draft, finishing tied for second with 9.1 percent. After considered a top-five pick for most of the weeks preceding the draft, the interest in a number of players (particularly European prospects Mario Hezonja and Kristaps Porzingis) led to Winslow's unexpected slide.
Richardson received a vote in this category as well, despite being selected in the second round of the draft.
Winslow finished fourth in the most athletic rookie category, finishing behind Anderson, Pat Connaughton of Portland and Cauley-Stein.
Devin Booker, long rumored to be on Miami's radar leading up to the draft, was selected as the top shooter among all rookies by a wide margin, finishing with 58.8 percent of the vote.
Tellingly, both Heat rookies received votes for best defender among all first-year players, with Winslow finishing third (with 17.6 percent of the vote) and Richardson receiving some votes.
Other questions included what rookies felt was the biggest adjustment in the NBA (with the speed/pace of the game topping the way with 38.6 percent of the vote) and who their favorite current NBA player is (Kevin Durant led this category with Miami's Dwyane Wade finishing fourth in this category).
Ironically, Winslow and Richardson received votes as the funniest players in this year's rookie class. You can be sure that neither of them will be laughing at the results of the poll with Winslow telling the Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman that he'll use his slide in the draft to fuel him in his career:
"When the draft was over, it is what it is. That's the way I feel about it. But, for me, I use that (his slide) as motivation. The (only) people I listen to are my teammates, myself and my coaches down in Miami."
It sounds like Winslow's looking for a chance to prove the doubters wrong and for the season to begin already.