NBA: The Rookie of the Year Race

With the NBA season officially over, its time for the postseason, the most exciting time of the year for the teams and fans who made it up to this point. Another reason why this time of year is exciting is the closing in on of the announcement of the NBA seasonal awards.

These awards include: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Improved Player of the Year. The selection process is heavily scrutinized, rightfully so, as not everyone’s favorite player can with the award their contending for.

There is much debate surrounding each individual worthy of ultimately winning each award. The Rookie of the Year (ROY) award always seems like one of the more heavily debated awards, as it denotes recognition to the best-first year player in the league.

This year there are many worthy contenders of winning the award given how talented the 2017 NBA draft class was. The most notable of honor are: Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia Sixers, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls.

Of all the candidates, the most qualified to the win the award have undoubtedly been Simmons and Mitchell. However, many including the Australian-native, argue there is actually no debate, that he is without question the only worthy winner.

“Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent,” Simmons told ESPN in an interview on April 7th.
Image via @bensimmons Instagram

For Simmons, the first overall pick in the 2016 draft missed last season with a broken foot. According to ESPN, the rookie is averaging 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.

For a rookie, heck a player to average close to a triple-double and above 15 points per game is outright ridiculous. His 12 triple-doubles, as a rookie, place him second behind Hall of Famer, Oscar Roberston who had 26. To further illuminate that statistic, Magic Johnson had 10 triple-doubles as a rookie.

Simmons and fellow Sixers’ star Joel Embiid have led their team from being the worst team in the Eastern Conference, last season, to the third seed this season. However, there is another side to this race to be examined.
Image via @spidadmitchell Instagram

For Mitchell, the 6-foot-3 combo guard is averaging a rookie-high 20.5 point per game to go alone with becoming the fastest rookie in NBA history to score 150 three-point field goals, doing so in only 63 games.

Additionally, the Jazz lost their best player last season in Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics via free agency. Analysts, league-wide, expected the Jazz’s past success to wallow away. However, the Jazz amassed a 48-34 record to go along with the fifth seed in the West. A lot of the success of the Jazz can be attributed to the emergence of Mitchell as a perennial scoring threat.

Despite the success’ of Mitchell and the Jazz, the lone-standing winner of this year’s Rookie of Year award winner should be Simmons.

Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers kick off their postseason this Saturday April 14th 8:00 pm Eastern on ESPN.

Mitchell and the Utah Jazz play the Oklahoma City Thunder starting Sunday April 15th 6:30 pm Eastern on TNT.

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