The two-man race for Rookie of the Year — Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons vs. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell — led to “Team Simmons vs. Team Mitchell” on social media, with each side taking shots at each other. One concept in particular had a foothold with Team Mitchell: That Simmons isn’t really a rookie. Simmons spent his first year under NBA contract never setting foot on an NBA court for a game, so by the NBA’s official definition, he’s a rookie (and that’s ultimately the only definition that matters). However, some Mitchell supporters — including the Jazz and Mitchell himself — promoted the theory it wasn’t fair to compare a guy who came straight out of college to a guy who spent a year hanging around an NBA team.
Celtics fans jumped all over that Monday night during Game 1 of their playoff series, chanting “not a rook-ie” at Simmons when he went to the free throw line.
Guess who found that funny?
Later, Celtics fans chanted “he’s a rook-ie” while their own Jayson Tatum was at the line. Tatum dropped 28 points on the Sixers (who will not have J.J. Redick or Marco Belinelli on his as much next game), showing why he is going to finish third in the Rookie of the Year voting this year. He was impressive.