Last week, the NBA announced the top three finalists for each major season award that will be announced at the second annual NBA awards show on June 25 on TNT.
The three finalists for Rookie of the Year were Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. Although Simmons had the most prolific rookie season of the three, leading all rooks in rebounds (8.1), assists (8.2), and steals (1.7), some questioned if he was a true rookie. Simmons was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 and missed the entire 2016-17 season after breaking his right foot and didn’t make his NBA debut until October 18, 2017.
Numerous fans, former and current players, and even Donovan Mitchell had their own thoughts on Simmons being included in the 2018 Rookie of the Year race. Mitchell wore a sweatshirt defining the word “rookie” to throw some shade at Simmons.
Phoenix Suns rookie forward Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft also had something to say about Simmons’ situation on the Scoop B Radio Podcast (h/t Brandon Robinson of BasketballSocietyOnline.com).
“Being around the league, in the league for a year, sitting out and then playing the next year, I think that does absolutely give you an advantage,” Jackson said. “I don’t really think [he’s a rookie], but by definition, you’re still a rookie.”
In his own right, Jackson had a very solid rookie season for the Suns and showed glimpses of what his bright future will hold. The 21-year-old forward averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game as Phoenix finished last in the Western Conference with a 21-61 record.
So, is Simmons a true rookie?
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