This year’s most hotly contested award may be who the Rookie of the Year in the 2018 NBA season is. The three nominees for the award are the Sixers Ben Simmons, the Jazz Donovan Mitchell, and the Celtics Jayson Tatum. This is really a two-horse race between Simmons and Mitchell after both players had incredible seasons for their teams. Simmons, even though he was drafted in 2016, is the leading candidate to win the award after leading his Sixers from one of the worst teams in the league to the number three seed in the Eastern Conference. Let’s take a look at why each of these players deserves to have their name called as the winner of this award.
NBA Awards: Time, TV Channel & View Details
Event: 2018 NBA Awards
Date: June 25th, 2018
Start Time: 6:00 p.m. PST/9:00 p.m. EST
Location: Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California
Simmons is the favorite to win this award after having an impressive rookie campaign. Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and shot 54.7 percent from the field. Simmons is his team’s playmaker by facilitating the ball to open up shots for teammates. Simmons is also hard to stop when driving to the basket as he has the ability to finish with both hands. 77 percent of his shots came from within 10 feet of the basket When within five feet of the basket Simmons is converting on a ridiculous 69.6% of those shots. Defensively, Simmons could match-up with many guards and make it a difficult night for them on the floor. The two knocks on Simmons are that he has no perimeter game let alone a mid-range game. He very rarely shoots a jumper as he tries to use his size to bully smaller guards. The second knock on him for this award is that he technically was not drafted last year so he had an extra year to develop in the league since he was injured and did not play during the 2016-2017 season. Some people don’t believe it is fair for him to be considered a rookie but per NBA rules since he did not appear in a game he can still be considered a rookie.
Mitchell exploded onto the scene this year averaging 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and he shot 44 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range. Mitchell took the league by storm and was able to lead his team to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs after many people thought the Jazz would be at the bottom of the league after losing star player, Gordon Hayward, to free agency the summer before. Mitchell’s usage rate led all rookies as he was used on 28 percent of possessions for his team. Mitchell led his team in scoring and was the focal point of his team’s offense. Without Mitchell, the Jazz would not have gone as far as they did. He was the engine that made his team go.
Tatum had a solid rookie season averaging 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and he shot 47.5 percent from the field. Tatum was also impressive from the perimeter hitting 43.4 percent of his three-pointers. Tatum really showed how great of a player he will be one day as he was the main man for the Celtics offense during their playoff run. He was the man taking the big shots towards the end of the games and he was able to average 18.5 points per game during the postseason. However, it is unlucky that Tatum was a rookie in the same class as Simmons and Mitchell because these two guys had truly spectacular seasons. Tatum has proven though that he will be a force to reckon with in the future and could become one of the next big stars in the NBA.
Even though I’m not a fan of the NBA rule that allows for players who did not play in a game the season they were drafted can still be considered a rookie for the season after, I am going to have to give my vote to Ben Simmons on this one. Simmons at 6-foot-10 impacts a game at both ends of the floor. He helps to facilitate the offense for the Sixers as he is the primary ball-handler for them. His passing instincts are off the charts and he makes all of the players around him better. He can also be a lockdown defender, which is what I think takes him over the top of Mitchell. Mitchell can score with the best of them but is sometimes a little lazy on the defensive end trying to conserve energy to play offense. If this was any other year, Mitchell would be winning this award, but I have to give the nod to Ben Simmons here just from the way he impacts the game on both ends of the floor for his team.