Ben Simmons named Rookie of the Year

It has been a banner year for former St Francis Xavier’s Primary School student, Ben Simmons. Not only did he lead his team, the Philadelphia 76ers, to the NBA playoffs, the 21-year-old Melbourne-born basketballer took home the Rookie of the Year Award, the league’s top award for first-timers in a regular season. He is the first Australian ever to win this honour.

Held in Santa Monica, California, the NBA Awards Night celebrates the best and brightest in the league. Arriving at this year’s ceremony prior to the award being announced, Ben Simmons was a hotly-discussed contender for the award - with most fans and commentators discussing the award as though Simmons had already won.

The buzz generated ahead of Simmons’ big win stemmed from him winning multiple Rookie of the Month awards as well as the pivotal role he played in helping the 76ers set a franchise record of 52 wins in the regular season.

NBA Rookie of the Year

Giving Simmons a run for his money in the Rookie of the Year competition was Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell.

Arguably a more formidable opponent in the field, Mitchell averaged 4.7 more points than Simmons per game, a stat attributed to Simmons’ unreliable jump shot and poor field goal percentage.

While Mitchell was able to take the ball to the basket more often than Simmons, it was Simmons’ willingness to involve all his team members in each attacking move that made the 76ers such a powerful scoring threat this year. In addition, Simmons proved himself to be the more adept defensive player averaging more assists and rebounds per game than Mitchell.

Simmons further showed his defensive prowess this season by averaging 1.7 steals and .9 blocks per game.

Given Simmons outshone Mitchell in most areas, it’s not a surprise he was able to clinch this year’s award. What is surprising, however, is how convincingly Simmons beat out his opponents.

Simmons won Rookie of the Year with 90 first-place votes, 10 second-place votes, and one third-place vote. Mitchell, the runner up, had 11 first-place votes, 89 second-place votes and one third-place vote.

Those who know his stats would not be surprised by the landslide vote. Simmons passed the legendary Magic Johnson’s mark of seven triple-doubles in a rookie season.  

Ben Simmons on winning NBA Rookie of the Year

“I’d like to thank my family, to start off with,” Simmons said at a press conference following the his big win.

“Family. Friends. I wouldn’t be here without them and my teammates, of course. And my great coach; the city of Philadelphia for really embracing me and my family, thank you,” he said.

Speaking of Simmons’ Rookie of the Year award, his 76ers coach Brett Brown, said: “I am proud of the fact that two of the past five Rookies of the Year have come from our program’s development efforts, which are the bloodline of our culture.

“Ben Simmons is so much an example of this fact. He had been a college four-man and transitioned into the NBA as a point guard; that, in itself, is an amazing story. This positional change and added responsibility only confirms how exciting his future is as a multi-dimensional player.

“His character and his talents will be a building block for our championship quests for many, many years. I am so proud to share in his award and so proud of his teammates for also helping him achieve this recognition,” Brown added.

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.