Rookie of the Year

The “race” for Rookie of the Year has become a circus in the past few weeks. The choice for the award has been obvious all year. The media grows bored of a race with only one competitor, so they invent a competition. They need views and ‘hot takes’ get views. “Maybe Anthony Davis should be MVP over James Harden…” Just stop. If there’s an obvious choice, then give them the damn award.

Voters have been getting extremely “cute” with their picks lately. Last year, Joel Embiid didn’t win Rookie of the Year because he didn’t play enough games (there is no rule about this, but I understand the objections to voting for someone who only played 31 games). I completely understand why you’d pick Malcolm Brogdon over Joel Embiid…but not over Dario Saric.

2016-17 Dario Saric: 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists

2016-17 Malcolm Brogdon: 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists

I think we can all agree that Dario had better stats than Malcolm and he played in 81 games. It isn’t stats and it isn’t games played, so people must be voting based on team success. But wait… didn’t Russell Westbrook win the MVP over James Harden despite the Thunder being a 6 seed and the Rockets a 3 seed?

2016-17 Russell Westbrook: 31.6 points, 10.4 assists, 10.7 rebounds

2016-17 James Harden: 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds

I’m getting off topic but I think it’s important to note that Russ averaged a triple-double again this year and isn’t anywhere close to sniffing the MVP conversation. Voters probably feel pretty stupid for giving Westbrook the MVP over Harden because of an arbitrary stat that excites Oscar Robertson fans and that I plan on using later in this post to defend my Rookie of the Year choice.

Simmons can’t win Rookie of the Year because he’s not really a rookie. How many games did he play last year? Oh that’s right, he didn’t play any. Blake Griffin’s rookie season was delayed one year by injury and he won Rookie of the Year unanimously. David Robinson’s rookie season was delayed two years because of his commitment to the U.S. Navy and then he won Rookie of the Year unanimously. Are you saying David Robinson wasn’t really a rookie? Do you hate the troops?

If you’re going to stick to the argument that Ben Simmons isn’t really a rookie because he traveled with an NBA team last year, then that means you’re voting for him to win Most Improved Player, right? Because he’s averaging 15.9 more points, 8.2 more rebounds, and 8.2 more assists than last year.

Simmons and the Sixers play in the East so they have it easier than Mitchell and the Jazz in the West! False. The Sixers are 18-12 against the West this year and the Jazz are 14-16 against the East.

Now this probably seems like I’m a Donovan Mitchell hater, but I’m really not. He’s had an amazing year and has an incredible future ahead of him, but Ben Simmons is the Rookie of the Year and it’s not even close. “But Donovan Mitchell hit the most three pointers by a rookie in NBA history and Ben Simmons didn’t even hit one!” Yeah, well Ben doesn’t need to shoot threes to produce on the court. Also, Mitchell took 542 threes this season and hit 186. That’s 34.3% from behind the arc. That puts him in 114th in the league for those with 100 or more attempts.

I know I was talking smack about triple-doubles earlier in the post but now they fit my agenda so I’m going to pretend I didn’t say any of that. Ben Simmons is third in the league in triple-doubles behind only LeBron and stats-hunter Russell Westbrook. Ben Simmons had 12 triple-doubles this season. To put that in perspective, Chris Paul has 14 in his career. Mitchell averaged 20.5 points per game but he doesn’t play defense and he had a whopping zero double-doubles this season.

Ben Simmons is a 6’10 point guard. His command of the offensive fast break is Magic Johnson-esque, he’s too fast for big men, and he’s too strong for guards. The only way to slow him down is to send him to the free-throw line. He scores at will with amazing footwork, incredible body control, and a soft touch. He does all of this without a jump shot. The man cannot shoot. If he can, he chooses not to. If Ben develops his shot this summer, I’m not sure what teams will do against him defensively.

Rachel Nichols said it best, “Of course after his injury year with the Sixers, Ben Simmons had an advantage over the other rookies coming into this season. He’s also got an advantage over some other players in that he’s 6’10”. Pro sports isn’t a fairness contest, and what’s “fair” doesn’t determine Rookie of the Year.”

(as if it wasn’t obvious)

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CHOICE: BEN SIMMONS

 

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