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Where does Ben Simmons rank among the NBA's recent rookies of the year?

Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
15th March, 2018
34

First off, I am assuming Ben Simmons easily wins the 2018 rookie of the year in the NBA.

Assume for the sake of this piece that Simmons already has captured the coveted award.

Simmons tied all-time great Magic Johnson Tuesday with his seventh triple-double of the season, sparking the question: where does Ben Simmons truly rank among the NBA’s past rookie of the year winners?

As of this writing, Simmons averages 16.2 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game and 7.6 assists per game, but the numbers do not tell the whole story. The Philidelphia 76ers have been a different team this season with the Australian 21-year-old running the offence.

For the first time in what feels like ages, their record is quite respectable at 36-30 and are poised to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.

The LSU product possesses an almost never-before-seen game. Coach Brett Brown has employed Simmons as the point guard of a team that ranks 10th in points per game, 11th in field goal percentage, and first in rebounds per game.

In addition to the offence, the Sixers stand at fifth in the league in defensive rating.

Even more impressive is Simmons’ efficiency. The rookie has attempted just ten threes this season, all of which have been half-court heaves or meaningless shots. Almost literally, every single one of Simmons’ shot attempts are in the paint (or right next to it).

While Simmons cannot shoot three-pointers or free throws to save his life, the Australian point-forward has made up for it in a bevvy of ways.

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Despite his very consistent approach, the lefty is shooting 53.6% from the field. When he is not scoring, he is finding the open man, and when he’s not finding the open man he’s boxing out and running in transition with the NBA’s second-best centre, Joel Embiid.

From 2000 on, no NBA rookie of the year has finished with a shooting percentage above 53% aside from Karl-Anthony Towns two years ago. In addition to this, no other ROY (not even LeBron James), has averaged at least 16 ppg, 7 rpg, AND 7 apg like Simmons.

The most important part of this is how good the 76ers are. Barring some miracle, the Sixers will comfortably enter the playoffs. Incredibly, only two rookie of the year winners (Amar’e Stoudamire 2002-2003 and Derrick Rose 2008-2009) have played in the playoffs during their first season.

Simmons is no LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but one could make the argument that he is doing more for his team than they did in their first season.

Before you get angry at me, I must acknowledge that of course, Simmons has a better team around him than the aforementioned superstars.

However, he has played as well as people could have hoped – and has quite literally made every single player on his team better throughout the season.

In addition, and unlike most rookies who thrive offensively, Simmons can also defend. Coach Brown has stated that his positionless powerhouse first-pick can be an ‘elite multi-purpose defensive player’.

For you advanced stat nuts out there, Simmons ranks 11th in defensive wins shared and averages 1.7 steals per game thanks to his nose for the ball and incredible length.

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If you look down the list of rookie of the year winners since the 2001-2002 season there are some absolute superstars, but expect Simmons to be a top-10 player in the NBA for years and years to come.

The Australian-born LSU Tiger turned 76er is easily one of the best rookies in recent memory, and probably will be one of the greatest ROYs for many seasons.