In pro sports, rookies to end to fair a bit better on the offensive side of the ball than they do on the defensive side. The reason is simple. Defense is not a young man’s game.  It requires you blend athleticism (something rookies possess a lot of), with geometry. And the more angular math you’ve had a chance to do on a lacrosse field, the more valuable you will be as a defender.

My point here is that you are going to find more youngsters standing out on the offensive side of the ball vs the defensive side.  Because on offense speed kills and the ignorance of youth is sometimes a strength instead of a weakness.

So it’s no wonder that the rookie of the year award for the PLL’s 2022 season is going to be an attackman.  This is just a fact.

So who are we looking at here?

Jack Hannah

Big boy of a midfielder out of Denver.  Volume shooter but needs to improve his accuracy.  At Denver he was plagued by poor early season shooting before finding his groove.  This year for the Waterdogs, similar woes.  11 goals off 65 shots.  63% of those shots were on cage but only 17% went in.  If he can find a way to clean up his shooting, even just a little bit, the sky is the limit.

  • 14 points off 11 goals and 3 assists
  • 17% shooting
  • 5 turnovers
  • 5 gbs

That’s a hell of a rookie season and I’m sure he’s going to have a solid pro career, but that’s not going to be good enough.

PLL Profile…

Matt Moore

High volume shooter, but a savage as a do or die dodger out of Virginia.  Moore was one of the best dodgers in college lacrosse over his last two seasons.  Moore had a huge stretch over his 2nd, 3rd and 4th pro games going for 4 points vs the chaos, 6 points against the cannons and then 3 points against the Atlas, and since then, he’s been a bit more quiet.

  • 20 points off 15 goals and 5 assists (14th in points, 9th in goals)
  • 35% shooting
  • 13 turnovers, 3 caused turnovers

A very solid rookie output, but as the season has wore on, he’s simply not finishing the same shots he did over the first 4 weeks of the season. But I think he should be very pleased with his 35% shooting percentage because that’s solid considering what he put up in his college days.

PLL Profile:

Asher Nolting

Can do it all attackman out of High Point.  The kid can go to the cage with the best of them.  Lyle Thompson and Connor Fields level ball carrying, can handle the double team, but has the size to really over-power a defender.  In college my only knock against his game was tied to turnovers.  He cleaned that up by his graduate senior year.  But those turnover issues have followed him to the PLL.  23 points and 31 turnovers.

  • 23 points off 14 goals and 9 assists (11th  in points, 10th in goals, 9th in assists)
  • 29% shooting
  • 31 turnovers (2nd), 2 caused turnovers
  • 13 gbs

An incredible talent, and he is a future hall of famer in my opinion.  He’ll be one of the best attackmen in the league for many years to come.  But there are obviously guys that have had better seasons in 2022.

PLL Profile…

Chris Gray

Literal offensive swiss army knife out of North Carolina.  He is an elite finisher in transition and can absolutely murder you with early offense before your defense is settled.  More than proficient dodger thanks to him being shifty and having a lightning quick release.  Can both spot shoot and finish on the run from odd angles.  Also scores highlight reel goals in bunches.  Hands down one of the most exciting players in the sport.

  • 34 points off 16 goals and 16 assists including a 2 point goal (5th in points, 8th in goals, 5th in assists)
  • 28% shooting
  • 18 turnovers (10th), 1 caused turnover
  • 7 gbs

This would normally be solid enough for serious consideration, but just like the Tewaaraton was always just out of reach despite Gray always being an early favorite, so too will the rookie of the year award in the PLL.

PLL Profile:

Logan Wisnauskas

Chrome, Lefty sniper/finisher, 2022 Tewaaraton winner out of Maryland.  This kid impressed in 2022 as both a team leader and generator of points for the Terps.  The clear winner of the Tewaaraton.  Helped lead one of the most efficient offenses in the history of college lacrosse.  He has been equally as good this season for the Chrome  putting up 35 points on 24 goals and 11 assists while shooting the rock at a 39% clip.  That is as good as rookie seasons could seamingly get.

  • 35 points off 24 goals and 11 assists (4th in points, 2nd in goals, 7th in assists)
  • 39% shooting (5th among guys with more than 25 shots)
  • 7 turnovers, 0 caused turnovers
  • 10 gbs

Many think that Wisnauskas should be the rookie of the year, and they wouldn’t be wrong.  It’s hard to argue against those numbers and among the guys I’ve talked about so far, he’s clearly head and shoulders above them in terms of numbers mixed with performance.  But…

PLL Profile:

Brendan Nichtern

Chrome, Quarterback of an offense with a metric shit ton of future upside out of Army.  I’ve been a Nichtern fan since his breakout sophomore season.  The kid was one of the best offensive talents to ever come out of the Patriot.  A veritable Syracuse killer, put up 8 goals and 5 assists in his last two meetings against the Orange and propelled Army to victory in both.  I had no doubt that he was a draft steal in the second round, but I am a bit surprised to see him dominate the PLL.  I figured he’d fall somewhere in the area of 10th to 20th or so overall in points.  He’s currently tied for 3rd in points with 38, tied with Rob Pannell and Jeff Teat (not bad company).  Only Lyle Thompson and Kieran McArdle stand above Nichtern.

  • 38 points off 16 goals and 22 assists (2nd in points, 8th in goals, 2nd in assists)
  • 28% shooting
  • 33 turnovers, 3 caused turnovers (1st in turnovers)
  • 11 gbs

So you can see the obvious blemish on his record is the turnovers.  Rookies that carry the ball in the PLL typically get worked a bit by the veteran defenders.  He’s not without elite company at the top of that turnover list.  Nolting is sitting at #2, and veteran beasts Matt Rambo is 3rd with 28 turnovers and Lyle Thompson is 4th with 25 turnovers.  So considering how much time Nichtern spends with the ball in his hands, 31 turnovers isn’t terrible, but he’s going to need to get that down to the area of 25 next season if he wants to take that next step to PLL greatness.

PLL Profile:

So my pick for the 2022 PLL Rookie of the Year as of today, morning before the playoffs commence?  Nichtern, but by a very small margin.  I’m not usually for “co-awards”, but in this case with two rookies helping the Chrome go from worst in the league to one of the best teams in the league?  It may be a solid choice letting them share the award and I’m going on record saying that I would not be the least bit butt hurt by that.

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