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Ben Simmons Is the Only Choice for ROY

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Ben Simmons should be the Rookie-Of-The-Year, and it’s not close.

Donovan Mitchell is having a nice 10-game stretch going into the All-Star break. He’s hit some clutch shots. He leads the Jazz in scoring. He provides some beautiful dunks, highlights and is averaging almost 20-points a game. As the 13th pick in the 2017 draft, he’s made up for the loss of Gordon Hayward and is leading the 10th place team in the Western Conference to a record above .500. Great pick! However, to compare him to Ben Simmons this year and what they both project to for a career, is like comparing Dominique Wilkins to Magic Johnson. It doesn’t add up, and it’s not close.

There seems to be a bit of an anti-Simmons sentiment right now with the scribes who crave attention for controversial remarks (@Stephen A. Smith) and social media. One theory is that Simmons was anointed the consensus Rookie-Of-The-Year almost immediately into the season, but America loves to pull for underdogs. First it was Jayson Tatum, then Kyle Kuzma. Their momentum fizzled. Now the hot guy is Donovan Mitchell. Another theory is that so many people were livid about “The Process” and the tanking that went along with it. The fact that it kinda worked and is working really angers critics. Finally, and the most ludicrous of all, is that Simmons is actually in his second year in the NBA. He broke his foot in the preseason and never played a game last year, essentially a redshirt. What’s the difference between sitting out and never playing an NBA game, and being a sophomore in college? None. Blake Griffin missed his first year with the Clippers due to injury and won the ROY the following year. Precedent set.

Have those critics of Simmons ever watched a Sixers game? At 6-10, playing point guard, Simmons provides an advantage that we have only seen in Magic Johnson, and to a lesser extent Penny Hardaway, He is a lock down defender and can guard every position on the court. He is in the top 10 in the league in deflections, ranked fourth in loose balls recovered. Offensively, he is a pass-first point guard. He starts the offense, and has eyes in the back of his head. The passes he makes are so instinctive and at times, ridiculous! Simmons can get to the rim with incredible power. He is not a good outside shooter, and not a good free-throw shooter. Those things will improve. His outside shot has shown slight improvement. Simmons has not attempted a 3-point shot. He’s a team-first player, and focuses on the high percentage shots, but more importantly, getting a teammate a better shot. Another Magic Johnson comparison, who’s shot got better with time.

 

How about the numbers? Donovan Mitchell has taken 198 more shots than Simmons, and is averaging 3.2 points a game more than Simmons. Simmons is not only beating Mitchell in every other statistic, including blocks and steals, but he’s leading every other rookie. Both are point guards, and more points are scored as a result of Simmons’ overall game. Drop the mic now? No, there’s more. The Jazz have done a nice job being over .500, and give Mitchell the credit he deserves for that. However, Philadelphia was a national embarrassment for the last 4 years, and they have already won more games than they did all of last year. Sure, Joel Embiid only played 31 games last year, but the Sixers are +128 when Simmons is on the floor. Mitchell? +78.

Simmons had a triple-double in a comeback win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. That was his sixth of the season. Simmons has not only lapped the field of rookies this year, but consider that he is in rarefied air. He is one triple-double away from Magic Johnson’s rookie year, and has some work to do to get to Oscar Robertson’s 26. For those of you who think the NBA started with Shaq and Kobe, those are two of the greatest basketball players of all time. Both are considered Top 5 of all-time when those rankings take place.

Ben Simmons is having an incredible rookie season. He is a transcendent player on one of the most exciting teams in the NBA, which appears to be one of a handful of teams that will compete for a championship over the next several years. He passes the numbers test. He passes the eye test. For people to even consider Donovan Mitchell ahead of Simmons for Rookie-Of-The-Year or anything else is ludicrous. Ben Simmons will be the ROY, and it’s not close.

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About Mike Small

Married for 23 years, and a father of four. Currently a Pharmaceutical Sales Leader, and contributor for TLSportsMedia, covering the Philadelphia 76ers and other relevant NBA topics. Previously worked as a television sports anchor in Eastern North Carolina, radio talk show host in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also served as the producer of "The Dean Smith Show", a weekly television show on The University of North Carolina basketball team, and "The Mack Brown Show", a weekly television show on the UNC football team-while doing all of the player features. Wrote a weekly column and articles for Carolina Blue Newspaper. Was also a contributor to, "A Season of Dreams", a book on the 1993 National Champion North Carolina Basketball Team.

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