PBT Awards: Rookie of the Year

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
16 Comments

Kurt Helin

1. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

2. Ben Simmons, 76ers

3. Jayson Tatum, Celtics

I flip flopped on the top two the last couple months of the season, and even the last couple of days. Both are deserving, but you can’t split your vote. What decided it for me? Not that ridiculous “Ben Simmons isn’t a true rookie” crap, which is both silly and a moot line of logic. No, it was the load Mitchell had to take on for the Jazz to even get that team into the playoffs. Simmons was more efficient, is a better passer and rebounder, I like Simmons’ switchability more on defense,  but he had Joel Embiid and other guys who could make plays (Redick, McConnell) around him. As usage rate shows (Mitchell was 7 percent higher), a lot more was asked of Mitchell, particularly in the clutch, and he responded better than we have seen from a rookie in a long time.

Dan Feldman

1. Ben Simmons, 76ers

2. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

3. Jayson Tatum, Celtics

The 76ers’ offense ran through Ben Simmons because he was uniquely capable. The Jazz’s offense ran through Donovan Mitchell because it had to. That difference is why this is even a debate. Simmons made greater contributions this season, but playing with more capable offensive teammates – including Joel Embiid, an All-Star – helped. Facing a greater nightly burden, Mitchell acquitted himself extremely well. Ultimately, Simmons’ all-around game – especially defensively – gives him the edge. A key ding for Mitchell: He was an inefficient chucker early before settling in. The whole season counts.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Ben Simmons, 76ers

2. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

3. Zach Collins, Trail Blazers

Ben Simmons is the runaway winner and it hasn’t been close ever since Joel Embiid went down with an orbital fracture. The one thing Donovan Mitchell had going for him was a clear-cut value to his team. That got stripped away when Simmons switched to another gear with Embiid out. By advanced analytics, Simmons is a much better offensive player, passer, and rebounder. Oh, and he’s a better VORP and net rating guy than Mitchell by a long shot. I’m adding Zach Collins in here because third place in this race doesn’t matter and he’s been an absolute surprise for Portland this year.