Hoops Rumors’ 2018 NBA Award Picks: Rookie Of The Year

While the NBA won’t announce this year’s award winners until late in June, we’re making our picks for the year’s major awards now.

The Hoops Rumors writing team has weighed in with our choices below, but we also want to know which players, coaches, and executives you think are most deserving of the hardware this season, so jump into the comments section below to share your thoughts.

We’re keeping things going today with the award for Rookie of the Year. Here are our selections:

Dana Gauruder: Ben Simmons (Sixers)
Donovan Mitchell was an absolute steal with the No. 13 overall pick and most lottery teams last June will lament passing him over. Unfortunately for the dynamic point guard, Simmons had his rookie season pushed back a season by a foot injury. He’s a threat to post a triple-double every night and he, along with Joel Embiid, will make the Sixers contenders for many years to come. When Embiid was injured late in the regular season, Simmons showed he could carry the team on his shoulders.

Austin Kent: Ben Simmons (Sixers)
This is Simmons’ first year playing in and having an impact on NBA games. That’s all there is to it. Dwelling on semantics is what gave us 2017 winner Malcolm Brogdon, which I heartily opposed this time last year because there’s absolutely no denying that someone else was the most impactful, memorable first-year performer. Unless you want to retroactively strip previous award winners David Robinson and Blake Griffin for not playing in their draft year, or heck, put asterisks next to four-year college seniors like Tim Duncan and Damian Lillard for having an unfair life experience advantage, that’s how the award works.

Clark Crum: Ben Simmons (Sixers)
I have no qualm with Donovan Mitchell winning this award, but I’m picking Simmons because his team finished with a better record by four games, he averaged twice as many assists and rebounds as Mitchell, and he played in a more efficient manner throughout the season (via PER). Moreover, playoff performance is not taken into account. If it was, I may very well have picked Mitchell.

I consider both players to be future stars, and I don’t think the comparisons from the 2003/04 rookie class – Simmons/LeBron James and Mitchell/Dwyane Wade – are as far off as some think.

Arthur Hill: Ben Simmons (Sixers)
If the vote included the playoffs, Jayson Tatum might have a strong case, but it’s really a two-man race between Simmons and Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell is the more dangerous scorer and was a huge reason that Utah was able to survive the loss of Gordon Hayward. He has a significant edge in terms of three-pointers and free throws, two big holes in Simmons’ game. However, Simmons is a better rebounder and distributor and a much stronger presence on defense. He gets a narrow vote in a talented rookie class.

Chris Crouse: Ben Simmons (Sixers)
Can we retroactively give Simmons the 2016/17 award while giving this year’s to Donovan Mitchell? No? That’s understandable, but had Simmons or Mitchell somehow experienced their respective rookie seasons in any year over the last decade, I’d argue that only Blake Griffin would have won the ROY honors over either of them. That’s how good each player was this season and that’s how tight of a race this actually is.

Simmons gets my vote by the slightest of margins, though if Mitchell wins it, I wouldn’t protest. However, plenty of fans of the runner-up’s team certainly will, taking to Twitter to express outrage at how the league hates their player. Just remember, a vote in one direction is not a sign of disrespect for the other — especially this season.

Luke Adams: Ben Simmons (Sixers)
If this award was about exceeding expectations – as it often is with awards like Coach of the Year or Most Improved Player – Donovan Mitchell‘s case would be a little stronger. Simmons, the No. 1 pick in 2016, was always viewed as a potential star, while Mitchell nearly slipped out of the lottery in 2017. Now, both players look like future All-Stars.

I give Simmons the slight edge for his efficiency and his all-around contributions as a defender, rebounder, and distributor, which made up for his lack of an outside shot. But Mitchell’s case is compelling, and so is Jayson Tatum‘s, for that matter — Tatum played the role of a crucial contributor on a playoff team better than last year’s Rookie of the Year (Malcolm Brogdon) did.


Still to come:

  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Most Valuable Player

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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21 thoughts on “Hoops Rumors’ 2018 NBA Award Picks: Rookie Of The Year

  1. And there’s no way that anybody in their right mind would ever trade Donovan Mitchell straight up for Ben Simmons.

    I can’t believe this east coast bias. Simmons has no jump shot.

  2. I got to go Mitchell over Simmons in a very close race. Mitchell became a go-to scorer for a Jazz team that sorely needed it once Hayward left. He was also able to run the offense and play stifling D. Simmons was everything he was advertised to be at the draft last year, but I feel like Philly would have been a marginally better team without Simmons than the Jazz would have been without Mitchell.

    Can’t go wrong either way though, NBA’s future is looking bright.

  3. Gocubbies2016

    I laughed every time that you guys said it was close…. as Simmons proceeds to sweep the award here.

    No shame in coming in second to Simmons though. Mitchell had a good season!

    • Luke Adams

      Heh, we each write up our picks without seeing everyone else’s choices first, so I feel like at least a few of us expected the vote to be more divided than it was.

  4. Z-A

    Mitchell is a nice player. He does one thing very well. He scores. Ben Simmons does 3 things very well. The fact that he basically averaged 16 points without shooting the ball from the PG position is insane. Both play plus defense. So if he’s this good WITHOUT shooting… I mean c’mon no one in their right mind even trades Simmons for Mitchell, except the Jazz they do that trade immediately. OJ Mayo 2.0 with some defense vs Magic Johnson/LeBron 2.0

    • padam

      You’re putting Simmons in there with Magic/James? Really? Simmons can’t shoot. Can’t even shoot when he’s open at the free throw line. Talented he is, but he’s not Magic or James.

      • 215to404

        Magic couldn’t shoot at one point in time either. He was called tragic Johnson. Obviously worked on his shot and got better. Ben can do the same. He’s only 21 and got room to get better.

        • hiflew

          He can do the same. And after he does, then padam’s criticism will no longer be valid. But until he does, which is no guarantee by the way, his criticism is still telling.

    • hill

      “ONE thing” are you kidding me? Sounds like the words of someone who reads box scores instead of watching basketball games.

      Mitchell’s been asked to do more than any Rookie, and done it very very well. Simmons wasn’t asked to lead a team. Simmons wasn’t asked to be the primary playmaker. Simmons wasn’t asked to score. Simmons wasn’t asked to even shoot the ball. Just be a big athlete with great court vision.

      I’m astounded Mitchell didn’t get a single vote. Or maybe nobody watches the games.

  5. Z-A

    Lou Williams, another 6’3 guy that scores in bunches, gets a few boards and assists.

      • hiflew

        It’s a valid conversation. Voters are human beings. If their consciences do not consider Simmons a rookie, they might not vote for him regardless of the rules. Especially if it is close between he and Mitchell in their minds.

  6. waldfee

    Simmons – no jumper, good passing forward, mediocre PG, mentally weak (see Boston playoff series)

    If it’s about pure skill, Lauri Markkanen deserves a mention. He played on a terrible tanking Bulls team without a true PG until LaVine came back from injury. Markkanen displayed a much broader and more polished skill set than Simmons could ever dream of.

    I know the playoffs don’t count, but had Simmons not been bailed out by T.J. McConnell last night, the Sixers’ season would have been over by now. Simmons is a very talented player but his mental weakness when the going gets tough has been a common theme from his days at LSU to the 2018 playoffs.

    • Z-A

      The last 10 or 15 years of NBA MVPs can be have had the highest combo of these 3 advanced stats: Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) + Win Shares + Box Plus/Minus.

      Simmons was 18th in Win Shares and Box Plus/Minus and 11th in VORP. Mitchell didn’t crack the Top-20 in either.

      Mitchell = 8.4
      Simmons = 18.4
      Harden = 34.6 for comparison
      LeBron = 33.9 for comparison

      • hiflew

        Win Shares? Why would anyone trust a stat that says Pau Gasol is the 30th best player in NBA history? Ahead of Drexler, Ewing, Nash, Havlicek, Kidd, Pippen, Dantley. That stat also puts Chris Paul ahead of Bill Russell. It’s useless in my book.

        VORP is even worse with Andre Iguodala as the 47th highest in NBA history. Iggy is a decent player, but it would be stretch to have him in the top 47 players since 2000. That is about three steps below useless.

        Advanced stats are fun and all, but they a way to go before they are as logically acceptable as baseball advanced stats.

  7. hiflew

    I truly believe that Simmons was a rookie in 2016-17, regardless of the NBA rules. If you get paid, you are a pro. I wouldn’t feel comfortable voting for anyone but Mitchell as ROY.

    That being said, if the award was for exceeding expectations then the clear winner is not Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell. The rookie that exceeded expectations the most is Dillon Brooks of Memphis.

  8. x%sure

    The playoffs are exposing Simmons. One writer said the playoffs are not supposed to count… that will only be true if ballots were sent in before they started! Seems like they should count.

    I would pick Tatum 2nd. I am, like others are, predicting future performance with the ROY even though in theory that’s not really what ROY is about.

    So I am breaking the rules 3 times– holding Simmons’ first year, playoffs and my future forecast against him. Not fair! Hope he wins, seems like a nice guy. Wait, what am I saying. I’m like Dionis on Lebron now.

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