Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell are campaigning to win NBA Rookie of the Year, something fans won’t know the results of until the NBA Awards on Monday, June 25. This year’s race is unique in that Simmons was part of the 2016 draft class. He sustained an injury during summer league causing him to miss the entire 2016-17 season. Some fans are questioning whether Simmons is eligible for the award given this is technically his second year in the league.
Despite the debate, Simmons is eligible to win the Rookie of the Year award as his first actual game took place this season. Simmons explained to ESPN that he does not believe the extra year should disqualify him for consideration.
“Coming off a broken foot is definitely not an edge, but people are always going to say what they want to say,” Simmons told ESPN. “But at the end of the day, this is my first year in the league. If you’re a guy coming from overseas, you’re still a rookie and you can be 30 years old. So there’s a rule in there.”
Mitchell is doing his best to subtly troll Simmons with an interesting choice of Adidas hoodies this week. Mitchell first wore a black hoodie with the “definition” of rookie on the front of the sweatshirt.
Mitchell followed it up with another rookie hoodie later in the week.
When asked about his wardrobe choice, Mitchell tried to play coy saying he doesn’t care about the award.
“I really don’t care,” Mitchell told ESPN. “The biggest thing for me is that we’re in the fourth seed and fighting for the third seed. If I’m worrying about individual awards, I’m giving up on my teammates and what we’re trying to build here. Clearly, I’m not the one losing sleep over this. I don’t care.”
Mitchell may not care, but he did take time to explain why Simmons had an advantage over him this season.
“I’ll say this,” Mitchell explained to ESPN. “I’ll put it in perspective for people who obviously don’t play in the NBA and don’t know the life of the NBA. So, let’s say you have an exam to take on June 1 and you have a whole year to study for that exam, you’re going to get a pretty good grade on it, aren’t you? But some people may not have all that time to prepare for that exam. So, that’s how I look at it and I hope that puts it in perspective for people. But at the end of the day, we’re in the fourth seed. I got the Defensive Player of the Year and the Coach of the Year on my team, so I’m happy.”
Mitchell has tried to make the case that Simmons had an advantage by being able to travel with the Sixers and learn what the NBA life was like prior to this season. For his part, Simmons does not feel too threatened by Mitchell.
“If his argument is that I’m not a rookie, if that’s the only argument he has, I’m in pretty good shape,” Simmons told USA Today.
Simmons has already admitted he would vote for himself if he was given a vote.
“Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent,” Simmons explained to ESPN. “I think I have been playing solid all year. If you look at the numbers, you will see. People who know the game know.”
If Simmons does end up winning the award, it would not be the first time a second-year rookie has won. Blake Griffin also won the award in 2011 after being injured. The debate even caused dictionary.com to offer their services to help settle things.
Both Mitchell and Simmons led their teams to successful seasons with the Sixers and Jazz making the playoffs. Simmons is averaging 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds this season. Mitchell is averaging 20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds.
Who do you think should be Rookie of the Year? Let us know in the comments section.