With the book closed on the 2017-18 NBA season, we’re making our picks for the individual end-of-year awards. Here, we look at some of the best young talent the league has to offer.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
You can argue all you want over whether or not Simmons should be categorised as a rookie, but that’s exactly what he is according to the league’s definition, even if he entered the NBA last season before sitting the year out with an injury.
And because he’s technically a rookie, the Philadelphia 76ers phenom should earn the top honour among first-year players after being an All-Star calibre player from the get-go.
A triple-double threat every night, the 21-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds this past season to help transform the 76ers from bottom-dwellers to a team that reached the second round of the playoffs.
Simmons’ game isn’t without holes as his inability to shoot from outside was exposed in the playoffs, but his combination of size and skills, as well as his exquisite playmaking as an oversized point guard, make him one of the most unique players in the league.
The comparisons to LeBron James are a bit much, but Simmons has already proven he can develop into one of the best players in the league for years to come.
You can easily make a case Mitchell should win the award because of how much more he had to do than Simmons as Utah’s primary scorer from the jump. By averaging 20.5 points for a playoff team, Mitchell proved his bag of tricks and offensive arsenal is already veteran-like.
Tatum’s stats don’t jump off the page like Simmons or Mitchell’s, but his ability to be an impact player for one of the best teams in the league was arguably just as impressive. And the 20-year-old jumped to another level in the playoffs, where he was the focal point for a side that was one win from the Finals.
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