The NBA named Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons the league’s Rookie of the Year on Monday at the NBA Awards in Santa Monica, California. Simmons beat out Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum for the honor.
Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals while guiding the 76ers alongside Joel Embiid to the Eastern Conference’s three seed and their first playoff appearance since 2012 following years of futility. Simmons was drafted in 2016 out of LSU, but did not play the 2016-17 season while recovering from a broken foot.
Simmons wins Rookie of the Year with transcendent season
Simmons struggled with his jump shot and attempted only 11 3-point field goals during the season, missing them all, but still managed to shoot 54.5 percent from the field as a constant threat to attack the basket. The athletic, 6-10 guard is considered one of the league’s top young players redefining his position and the way basketball is played in the modern NBA.
Simmons beat out Mitchell, who led the Jazz in scoring with 20.5 points per game along with averaging 3.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The 13th pick in the draft out of Louisville was a revelation, helping lead the Jazz to the Western Conference’s five seed, which was unexpected after the team lost star forward Gordon Hayward to the Celtics in free agency.
Mitchell was not an efficient scorer, shooting 43.7 percent from the field in the regular season, but his impact on the court was emphasized even more in the playoffs when he led the Jazz to a first-round upset of the Oklahoma City Thunder while improving his scoring average to 24.4 points per game in the postseason.
Mitchell carries Rookie of the Year beef to NBA Awards
Simmons and Mitchell engaged in a social media beef toward the end of the season with Mitchell arguing that Simmons wasn’t really eligible for the award since he was drafted as a rookie in 2016. Simmons responded by dismissing Mitchell as a legitimate candidate for the award.
Mitchell kept up the trope Monday, arriving to the awards ceremony in Los Angeles in a van emblazoned with “Rookie?”
Forget the sweatshirt … @spidadmitchell just showed up to the NBA Awards with "Rookie?" on his ride. 😂
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) June 25, 2018
The two shared an embrace after Simmons was announced the winner.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 26, 2018
Tatum, the No. 3 pick out of Duke, was also a finalist after averaging 13.9 points, five rebounds, 1.6 assists and a steal while shooting 43.4 percent from 3-point range. He emerged as a leader on a Celtics team that finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and was one win away from the NBA Finals despite losing veteran stars Hayward and Kyrie Irving to season-ending injuries.
Other NBA awards
Former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey beat out Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder for Coach of the Year honors. The Raptors fired Casey after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept Toronto out of the playoffs despite the Raptors posting the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference. Casey has since been hired to coach the Detroit Pistons.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jamal Crawford was honored as the NBA’s Teammate of the Year.
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