NBA Rookie of the Year: Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons or Utah Jazz Donovan Mitchell
The 2017-18 NBA season has been action-packed and filled with drama. Before the season started, the rumor mill was guys like Dennis Smith Jr and Lonzo Ball were the runaway favorites. Once we got a few weeks into the season, it became obvious those guys had fallen out of the conversation and the rookie or the year race was wide open. The race is down to two real contenders at this point in the Utah Jazz G, Donovan Mitchell and Philadelphia 76ers F, Ben Simmons.
Simmons is technically a rookie because last year he broke his foot in summer league and never touched an NBA court during official action. Some people gripe that he shouldn’t be considered a rookie. Nonetheless, my argument against that is, you only improve when on the court. Sitting out a season may have helped Simmons learn the business of the NBA and how to conduct himself like a pro off the court. That, however, does nothing for Ben Simmons maturation on the court. The only way to get better in the NBA, especially as a rookie is play time.
Simmons is a rare player in today’s game. He has not mastered his jump shot quite yet and for most guys that would be a problem. Simmons is averaging 16.3 points a game for the Philadelphia 76ers. That’s as a rookie who’s still figuring out how he best fits on the court. Ben Simmons is so good at getting to the rim and creating offense for himself and teammates. He is also averaging 7.6 assists and 7.6 rebounds a game. These are ridiculous numbers for a young guy who is still adding to his game. Simmons will be a guy we talk about as a leading number one option in the league for years to come and an MVP candidate in 5 years.
Mitchell was drafted with little to no hype. Most Utah Jazz fans thought they were getting a nice developmental piece but Mitchell has turned heads. He’s a scoring threat every time he has the ball. When I watch him play l immediately see a ton of Dwayne Wade in his game. Both guys are slashers that can create offense and dish the rock when double teamed. For Jazz fans who just lost their fan-favorite Gordon Hayward, the arrival of Mitchell was perfect timing.
The one area Mitchell completely out guns most rookies is his three-point shot. He is only shooting around 35% for the season beyond the stripe but the kids’ confidence is out of this world. His ability slash and create for teammates has wet him apart from the other young athletic guards in the league. Mitchell has averaged 19.8 points a game this season. Utah is currently looking on the outside of the playoff race. However, it is absolutely thrilling for Utah Jazz fans to watch their future grow up right before their eyes. Utah becoming a contender in a few years is not shocking. Especially building around their young superstar Donovan Mitchell.
We are still about a month away from the award season picking up in media coverage. There is still time for both guys to move ahead as the favorite. Personally, I feel the winner to this point should be Simmons. He affects the scoreboard in more than just one facet of the game. Once Simmons perfects his jump shot and matures, the sky’s the limit for this stud. Both the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers have bright futures. I look forward to watching these two stars compete for the next ten plus years.