Ben Simmons led the 76ers to the NBA finals.
Ben Simmons led the 76ers to the NBA finals.

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.

Ben Simmons goes up against LeBron James.
Ben Simmons goes up against LeBron James.

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 starred for the Jazz this season.
Donovan Mitchell starred for the Jazz this season.

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.

Ben Simmons (left) and Jayson Tatum battle during the playoffs.
Ben Simmons (left) and Jayson Tatum battle during the playoffs.

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



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