Around the Hill: Who Will Be the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year?

Ben Simmons is eligible for the ROY Award because of injuries lastseason. So far, he’s the clear front-runner. 

Ben Simmons is eligible for the ROY Award because of injuries lastseason. So far, he’s the clear front-runner. 

By: Ethan Marchetti, Matt Gentile and Eric Fishbin

By Ethan Marchetti, Maroon-News Staff 

The NBA’s 2017-2018 rookie class is stacked with potential stud players. From number one overall pick Markelle Fultz to Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball to sleepers like Lauri Markkanen and Dennis Smith Jr., this season’s Rookie of the Year (ROY) title is still very much up for grabs.  That being said, 76ers forward Ben Simmons has cemented himself as the top candidate to receive the award this year.

After being drafted first overall in 2016, Simmons missed the entire year last year due to injury. He showed flashes of greatness during his time at LSU, and that skill has shown up thus far in his young NBA career.  As of November 4, Simmons is leading all rookies in scoring, rebounds and assists.  These numbers are beastly for an established NBA All-Star, much less a rookie, and all signs point to Simmons keeping his production at such a high rate. Having missed last year, he has had ample time to continue to develop and easily transition into NBA-level competition.  Other rookies could make a run at the award, but Simmons’ position as the focal point of Philly’s young offense sets him up perfectly for success throughout the season.

With a Player Efficiency Rating of 21.1, which is currently comparable to stars like Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson and DeAndre Jordan, Simmons is already showing that he can compete at a high level in this league, and there are no signs of him slowing down en route to his inevitable Rookie of the Year victory.

By Matt Gentile, Assistant National Sports Editor

Throughout the summer there was no limit on the buzz about this year’s draft class as people touted it the strongest since the class of 2003. The question of rookie of the year was a popular discussion with a draft that included so many potential NBA stars. Through the first month of the season, some rookies have risen to this potential and some have had a slow start. With all of this talk about the 2017 draft class, it is clear, in my opinion, that the NBA Rookie Of the Year of the will be Ben Simmons, from the 2016 draft class. Simmons has started off the season as a leader of the Philadelphia 76ers; he has assumed ball-handling duties and padded the box score on a nightly basis. Through nine games, he is averaging 18 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists. On the defensive end, he is also contributing 1.6 steals per game which is second amongst rookies. These numbers justify the high expectations that Simmons entered the league with and make him the easy choice for ROY. 

With Simmons so far out in front of the ROY race, I must concede that I hesitate to consider him a true rookie. While the NBA and media consider this his first year because he missed all of last season with a foot injury, he clearly has a leg up on the other rookies who are in their first year out of college. A year to train and travel with the team and adjust to the professional lifestyle is difficult to value. If Simmons were not allowed to compete in this year’s ROY race, I would change my prediction to Jayson Tatum. The high-usage, high-efficiency scorer out of Duke has been recruited to fill the offensive void left by Hayward’s season-ending injury. Tatum’s offensive prowess has transferred to the NBA as he has put up over 14 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 52 percent from three. As the season goes on, his role in the offense will continue to grow and if he can keep those efficiency marks anywhere near those numbers he will become a dangerous offensive threat. 

By Eric Fishbin, National Sports Editor

Easy question. Lonzo Ball. 

No but seriously, putting my Ball family bias aside I think Lonzo has the most well-rounded game out of any rookie besides Ben Simmons. His one year at UCLA showed tremendous ball handling skills, good shooting ability, great court vision and skillful passing. The 6’6” point guard drafted number two overall by the Los Angeles Lakers is averaging 8.8 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game and 6.9 assists per game. Even though through 10 games Ball has not been shooting well (29.9 FG percent), he is showing that he can be a starting point guard in the NBA. 

Ball will ultimately beat out Simmons for the Rookie of the Year honor because he will only get better as the season continues. Once Ball finds his form and confidence, he will be able to score over 15 PPG and continue to raise his rebounding and assists numbers, too. When Lonzo can adjust and adapt, he will thrive. 

Things have been hectic through Lonzo’s first couple of weeks in the League, as he has been wearing a target in each game. Opponents raise their level of competition against him because of who he is and how much his father talks. Once things settle, so will Lonzo Ball.

If Ball cannot settle, Jayson Tatum would be the next guy in line to take home the honors. The depth of the Celtics allows for Tatum to see good court time and run with talented players. His shooting ability and athleticism could push him to the next level.