Despite an admirable push from Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons should have this year’s Rookie of the Year race locked up.
And contrary to perceptions of each player heading into their NBA debuts, Simmons’ defense is ultimately what set him apart, edging or outright dominating his Utah Jazz foe in most every metric designed to reflect a player’s overall effect on that end of the floor — such as defensive win shares (4.9 to 3.7), defensive box plus/minus (3.6 to -0.3), and defensive rating (105 to 102; all according to Basketball Reference).
If traditional defensive stats are more your thing (and they shouldn’t be, as they can often mislead in both directions), the Philadelphia 76ers point forward has Mitchell beat there too, 1.7 to 1.5 in steals per game, and 0.8 to 0.4 in swats.
Anyway, Simmons knows this.
“Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent,” Simmons told ESPN regarding the Rookie of the Year race.
“I think I have been playing solid all year,” he added. “If you look at the numbers, you will see. People who know the game know.”
Confident. Nothing wrong with that.
Then he kinda dumped on Mitchell for no reason:
When the 6-foot-10 point guard was told the Rookie of the Year race appears to be a two-man show, he buried his head down and proceeded to chuckle. Asked what rookies have caught his attention this year, he didn’t mince words.
“None,” Simmons responded promptly. “I want to be where the greats are. So, for me, I watch the guys like [Kevin Durant], [LeBron James], [Stephen] Curry, Russell [Westbrook]. Guys like that. That’s where I want to be. I think for me, that’s what I love to watch.”
Come on, guy. No need.
Even teammate Joel Embiid, who earlier this year hilariously trolled Mitchell during a game, managed to weigh in on the award without shading the Jazz guard, who leads NBA rookies in scoring.
Here’s what the 76ers center said back in February:
Oh definitely. We’re in the playoff race and his numbers are insane and he’s been helping us a lot. So I feel like there’s no question, he should win Rookie of the Year. I’ve been seeing that people kinda like discredit him by saying that it’s because he plays with me. No, it’s not. We help each other, we’re still learning how to play with each other. We help each other so much on the court. He helps me a lot, I’m sure I help him a lot, but I don’t think there’s any question he should be Rookie of the Year. … Yeah, [Mitchell is] really good. I like his game. He’s athletic, he can score the ball, defense. I like his game a lot.
Maybe one of the things Embiid can help his teammate with is how not to be a douche out of nowhere.