Ben Simmons hasn’t forgotten what happened late last June.
He still remembers when Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon beat out not one but two of his teammates, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, for the Rookie of the Year.
If Simmons were to win the honors this season, it would be both a personal and team victory.
“I feel like I’d kind of be winning it for Dario and Jo for their year,” he said.
Embiid had been the dominating frontrunner for Rookie of the Year before he was sidelined for the season with a knee injury. Saric stepped up and made a strong case for himself in Embiid’s absence. Ultimately, Brogdon topped both of them in voting.
This season, Simmons has the opportunity to bring the award back to the Sixers. His main competition is Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Both have been driving forces in their teams' success this season. The Sixers (47-30) and Jazz (45-33) both currently hold the fourth seed in their conference.
Breaking down the stats, Simmons leads all rookies in rebounds (8.1), assists (8.1), steals (1.7), double-doubles (36) and triple-doubles (11). He is third in scoring (15.8) behind Mitchell (20.4) and Kyle Kuzma (16.4). Simmons has reached several rookie milestones, including passing Magic Johnson for second place on the rookie triple-double list.
Simmons’ numbers go far beyond his draft class. He is fourth in the league in dimes (one spot ahead of Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo) and third in triple-doubles behind only Russell Westbrook and LeBron James.
“It would just mean a lot,” Simmons said of the award. “Just playing with these guys, I wouldn’t have got to the stage where I would be considered Rookie of the Year if it wasn’t for them. They make it easy for me.”
The Sixers have put together a creative Rookie of the Year campaign for Simmons. He received his own personal set of these cards, No. 25 in the limited collection.
Check out the @BenSimmons25 Rookie of the Year campaign. The four cards highlight the statistical categories in which he leads all rookies. The blue fabric is a piece of Simmons' ripped jersey from the game against the Pacers when he recorded a triple-double. pic.twitter.com/l1QSs7ipw4— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) April 4, 2018