After a long wait, Tomas Satoransky is going to play in the NBA for the first time next season. As such, he’s eligible to win Rookie of the Year, and play in the Rising Stars Challenge. But if you’re going into next season with the expectation he’ll play like a rookie, then you need to check yourself.
What exactly does he have in common with this year’s rookie class? He’s 25, he has experience playing the world’s best talent in FIBA competition, and he’s been playing professionally since 2007. Does that sound like a rookie to you?
He’s not even getting paid like a rookie. He’s so far removed from the time that he was drafted that he wasn’t bound to the rookie scale when he negotiated his deal this summer.
You know who else wasn’t bound to the rookie scale when they negotiated their deals this summer? Everyone else from his 2012 draft class. Whether it was Bradley Beal getting a max deal, or Jared Sullinger signing a one-year deal in Toronto, everyone from his class is starting to get contracts based on what teams expect them to produce right now, not on their future potential.
The only difference between Satoransky and the other players from his draft class who got deals this summer is that he chose to prove himself overseas instead of the NBA. The level of competition in Liga ACB and Euroleague might be slightly lower than it is stateside, it’s still higher than what most of the 2016 draft class has played against. Despite the slight talent dropoff, he’ll join the NBA having played with more players with NBA experience than most of the other players joining the league this season, and with more experience in high-pressure situations than one-and-done players who flamed out in the Sweet Sixteen.
As Ben Mehic of Wiz of Awes notes, the Wizards are expecting a lot out of Satoransky next season, which is risky. They’ll need him to be primary facilitator for the second unit, and basically any time when John Wall is not on the floor. That’s an important responsibility on a team that features a lot of players who need a good passer to set them up for great scoring opportunities. It’s a big ask, but one that he should be well prepared to fill as soon as he dons a Wizards uniform.
While there will certainly be an adjustment period of sorts as Satoransky adjusts to the NBA’s regulations and style of play, he shouldn’t be graded on the sliding scale people use with rookies. Just like his companions from the 2012 draft class, Satoransky is entering the stage in his professional career when people stop talking about potential and start focusing strictly on results.
Though he may be a rookie next season, there’s no reason to soften expectations for him just because it will be his first year in the NBA. To expect anything less is an insult to what he’s already proven in his career.