Deciding who’s the best NBA rookie this season has been controversial so far. There were hoodie wars, issues with the definition of a rookie but at the end of it, it was about an ultra competitive race for the title of Rookie of the Year. Now the draft class of 2017 didn’t really live up to the hype. No.1 overall pick Markelle Fultz missed most of the season. No.2 pick Lonzo Ball fell short of expectations. Jayson Tatum did play ridiculously well for a rookie but there are really two rookies who deserve to be in the conversation for R.O.Y. — Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell.
NBA Rookie of the Year Candidates
Ben Simmons might be the most dominant rookie since LeBron James. That’s a lot to say but Simmons indeed has done a lot to get that kind of recognition. He’s averaged 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. On his way to leading his team to the third best record in the eastern conference, he recorded 12 triple-doubles. Simmons can’t do a lot but what he can do is what he’s exceptionally good at. The 76ers ended the regular season on a 16 game winning streak and a 52-30 record. Just to put this into perspective, this 16 game winning streak was the longest in Sixers franchise history and the longest in league history to end the regular season. This sure was a rookie season to be remembered for a long long time.
Donovan Mitchell wasn’t supposed to be part of this conversation but as it turns out, here we are. For the season, Mitchell averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists. More than that, he’s up there with Ben Simmons and all time great rookies in terms of the way he thinks the game. Even back in November, it was pretty evident that he’s the most polished player in the 2017 draft class. Mitchell can already score the ball in a variety of ways, whether it’s initiating the offense out of the pick and roll or cutting off of screens for a catch-n-shoot dagger three, he can do it all. There’s a reason why potential coach of the year Quin Snyder trusted him with the ball so much. He was able to successfully fill in for Gordon Hayward. Call it fate or whatever, Mitchell might just be the franchise player Utah Jazz were looking for.