With the All-Star break right around the corner the awards discussion starts to heat up. Surprisingly the most interesting race is for the Rookie of the Year. Despite whatever is plaguing number 1 pick Markell Fultz, this year’s rookies have been solid. There are surprises like Kyle Kuzma, Lauri Markkanen, the hot shooting of Jayson Tatum, the explosiveness of Dennis Smith and then you have the top two rookies; Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons.
There has been co-rookie of the years on three different occasions in NBA history, most recently during the 1999-2000 season with Elton Brand and Steve Francis. I think this season we might have another CO-ROY.
Some say Simmons is not a rookie because he was drafted last year but he missed the entire year with an injury. There were many questions about what he would bring to the Sixers and he did not disappoint. 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in his debut.
Mitchell was a different story as the 13th pick of the Denver Nuggets before he was traded to the Utah Jazz. In his first game he scored 10 points but in the next two games he had a combined four points.
Fast forward to February 13, 2018 (the day I’m writing this) and both players are having incredible rookie seasons.
Mitchell is averaging 19.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 3.4 apg while having a TS% of 54.5, a 29 USG% and a 17 PER. The Jazz are 29-28 after winning their 10th game in row. During that streak Mitchell is averaging 21/4/3. He’s scored 40 twice and at least 30 on four different occasions. He steals highlights with monster dunks and in the most recent game against the Spurs he hit the dagger pullup jump shot to seal the win.
Simmons started his rookie campaign off with three straight double-doubles and in his 4th game he messed around and had a triple-double. On the season he’s averaging 16.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 7.3 apg while having a TS% of 54.2, a 23.1 USG% and a 18.4 PER. The Sixers are currently 7th in the East as 29-25 and are on a four game winning streak. Simmons is in the top 20 in double-doubles with 21 and he’s 3rd in triple-doubles with 5. Only Russell Westbrook (16) and LeBron James (10) have more.
If you look at the numbers they are close. If you look at the highlights they are different. Mitchell has more alley-oop dunks and monster dunks while Simmons has the dimes but he also has some impressive dunks. They are rookies, they are fun and rather than picking one over the other I think they should be co-rookies of the year and it would be well deserved.