Numbers don’t lie: Simmons is No.1 rookie
IF you listen to the critics, Ben Simmons isn't a worthy rookie of the year.
Take one look at Simmons' stats from a remarkable maiden season, though, and the detractors' condemnation loses significant strength.
The Melbourne-born, Newcastle-raised point guard produced one of the best rookie campaigns in NBA history to finish the year in the record books alongside Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
The 21-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game in 81 regular season games.
Simmons also posted 12 triple-doubles, the second most by a rookie in history, while he led Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Add in becoming the NBA's second player record at least 1,200 points, 600 assists and 600 rebounds in his rookie season, and the Australian star is destined for greatness if he continues on the same path.
This is why the NBA named Simmons as a finalist in the Rookie of the Year race alongside Utah's Donovan Mitchell and Boston sensation Jayson Tatum.
Despite recording a historic season, Big Ben's credentials have been criticised as he was the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft - but sat out the entire season with a foot injury, which qualifies him for the award.
This hasn't stopped people, including rivals, questioning Simmons as a genuine rookie.
His main rookie-of-the year rival, Mitchell, has fuelled the debate by wearing T-shirts saying "ROOKIE?".
Simmons was also taunted throughout the semi-final series defeat to Boston, with Celtics fans chanting "not a rookie" while he was shooting free-throws - and "he's a rookie" when Tatum did the same.
For all the sledging, you can't deny Simmons deserves the rookie of the year honours.
Donovan Mitchell may have averaged more points (20.5 compared to 15.8), but Ben has the Utah shooting guard covered in rebounds and assists.
Simmons' versatile game gives him a clear advantage over Donovan, although many experts disagree.
Some NBA analysts believe Donovan is ahead as he has played a major role in leading Utah to the post-season in a strong Western Conference.
This is a valid remark, but it takes credit away from Simmons' effort to lead a success-starved Philadelphia to their first post-season appearance since 2011.
We also shouldn't forget about the third rookie finalist, Tatum.
The St Louis born small forward has been a revelation for a Boston side missing its two marquee players - Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward - to injury.
Tatum is 20, but you wouldn't know it based on his consistent and tough performances for the Celtics this season.
When you combine the raw numbers with performance and impact, it's hard to go past Simmons as the 2018/2019 Rookie of the Year.
The NBA will also recognise categories like the most valuable player, coach of the year and the most improved player.
The winners will be announced on June 25 in California during the NBA Awards show.
NBA AWARD FINALISTS
Most Valuable Player:
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
James Harden, Houston Rockets
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Rookie of the Year:
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Sixth Man Award:
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Lou Williams, LA Clippers
Defensive Player of the Year:
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Most Improved Player:
Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
Coach of the Year:
Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics