76ers

Sixers' Ben Simmons win NBA's Rookie of the Year award

Sixers' Ben Simmons win NBA's Rookie of the Year award

The debate can finally be put to rest. Ben Simmons is a rookie, and he has the hardware to prove it.

Simmons was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year during the league’s annual awards show on Monday night. Simmons beat out Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Boston’s Jayson Tatum for the award.

“Wow. I’d like to thank my family to start off with. Family, friends, you know I wouldn’t be here without them,” Simmons said. “My teammates, of course, and my great coach. The city of Philadelphia for really embracing me and my family. Thank you.”

Simmons became the third Sixer to ever to receive the honor after Michael Carter-Williams (2013-14) and Allen Iverson (1996-97). He also became the first Australian to win the award in what turned out to be a landslide. Simmons received 90 of 101 first-place votes while Mitchell took the other 11. Simmons added 10 second-place votes and one third-place vote for 481 total points. That was far and beyond Mitchell's 323 total points and Tatum's 101.

Much to the chagrin of Jazz fans everywhere.

After sitting out last season with a broken foot, Simmons took the league by storm in 2017-18. The phenom averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals during the regular season. He also racked up 12 triple-doubles, second only to Oscar Robertson for a player in his rookie season.

“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,” Sixers head coach and interim general manager Brett Brown said in a statement. “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 of our championship quest 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.”

Simmons’ production was never in question throughout the season, but his standing as a rookie was a hot topic of debate. 

Pundits asked whether Simmons should be considered a rookie since he had the benefit of working and learning in the Sixers’ program during his lost 2016-17 season. 

Even Mitchell, who garnered the NBA players’ association Leader of the New School Award for top rookie, got in on the act. He openly said Simmons shouldn’t be considered a rookie and even went so far as wearing a hoodie with the definition of the word written across the chest (the definition actually helped Simmons’ case, stating it referenced someone “playing” in their first season).

Mitchell doubled down on that sentiment with his choice of vehicle for the NBA awards show.

To his credit, Simmons never let the noise get to him. The point guard simply went about his business to help the Sixers post a 24-win increase from a season ago and reach the playoffs for the first time in six season.

“If his argument is that I’m not a rookie, if that’s the only argument he has, I’m in pretty good shape,” Simmons said in April. “There’s a rule in the NBA for a reason. I’m not going to wear a sweatshirt tomorrow though.”

No need. Simmons can just glance at his trophy case now for validation.

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NBA offseason begins in earnest as Lakers reportedly agree to trade with Pelicans for Anthony Davis

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USA Today Images/Derick E. Hingle

NBA offseason begins in earnest as Lakers reportedly agree to trade with Pelicans for Anthony Davis

It didn’t take long for the NBA offseason to begin in earnest.

Just two days after the Raptors clinched the NBA title, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired star center Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. In return, the Pelicans are getting Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 selection in this year’s draft. 

The move has massive big-picture implications for the league. The Lakers now have a six-time All-Star with career averages of 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks to pair with LeBron James.

New Orleans got a substantial haul in return. Ball and Ingram, two former No. 2 overall picks, are both 21 years old. A Villanova product, Hart couldn’t build on a promising rookie campaign last year but has the makings of someone who can be a valuable NBA role player for many years. The Pelicans will also feel they have a real chance to land a star(s) with the three first-round picks, whether through the draft or through subsequent trades. They already had the No. 1 pick in this year's draft and are expected to select the electric Zion Williamson. 

According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Lakers gave up all that for one guaranteed year of Davis — Haynes says Davis will enter free agency after this year. The fact that Toronto’s gamble to trade for one year of Kawhi Leonard before he hit free agency paid off could spark a league-wide trend of banking on short-term "rentals" for stars (see story). 

For the Sixers, the first, obvious takeaway from the trade is that their biggest rival failed to land Davis — the Celtics were reportedly interested in him, but The New York Times’ Marc Stein reports Boston refused to make Jayson Tatum available, which stunted negotiations. 

It’s unclear at the moment how the trade might affect Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris, the Sixers' two big-name free agents. Haynes reported Friday that Butler, as expected, will decline his player option. He also reported the Lakers “have genuine interest” in Butler. The Sixers hold Butler’s Bird Rights and are the only team who can offer him a five-year, $190 million deal.  

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2019 NBA draft profile: Louis King has a ton of upside for the Sixers in the second round

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USA Today Images

2019 NBA draft profile: Louis King has a ton of upside for the Sixers in the second round

Position: Forward

Height: 6-8    

Weight: 195

School: Oregon

King, a forward out of Jersey City, New Jersey, bounced around three different high schools. That didn’t prevent him from being a five-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American. King chose to attend Oregon over Kansas, among others.

King spent just one season at Eugene but made a strong impact. He helped the Ducks win the Pac-12 Tournament and a pair of NCAA Tournament games before losing to national champion Virginia. King made the conference’s All-Freshman team and was also named to the All-Pac-12 Tournament team after posting 16.5 points and shooting 40 percent from three in four tourney games.

Strengths

You can see why King was considered one of the top 25 recruits in the country coming out of high school. He has tremendous size and length but is also super skilled. He can really shoot the basketball, hitting 38.6 percent of his threes and 78.5 percent of his free throws in his lone season at Oregon. He’s not just a spot-up guy either. He showed the ability to shoot off the dribble and looked pretty natural doing it. He has the size of a power forward but has a perimeter skill set. His length and athleticism project extremely well on the defensive end at the next level. He has a chance to be the switchable defender most teams are looking for in the increasingly positionless NBA.

Weaknesses

You can also see why King will likely land in the second round. He’s under 200 pounds and while his profile defensively projects well at the next level, it’s most definitely a projection. He’s timid and you could see him getting bullied at the next level by bigger, stronger players. He’s definitely a little raw as far his decision making and shot selection. His feel for the game in general could be better. He also suffered a torn meniscus during his senior year in high school that caused him to miss the beginning of last season.

Fit

There are plenty of tools to work with here, but King is likely going to be a redshirt-type player if a decent team drafts him. Offensively, his skill set is special at his size. If he can develop his feel for the game and put on some muscle, he could turn into something special. Should the team that takes a shot at King be the Sixers? At 24, definitely not. At 33 or 34? Perhaps. At 42? It’s a no-brainer. You can add King to your roster and have him stay fresh and develop in Delaware. He’ll be coached into your system while getting to spend time around your NBA team.

“He’s really skilled,” director of scouting Vince Rozman said after the team had King in for a workout last week. “He has great size. He can handle and kind of make plays off the dribble … His shot is obviously very, very attractive and projectable. He’s here for a reason. There’s no doubt.”

King might not be the sexiest pick, but as we’ve seen from this year’s NBA champions, sometimes it’s worth taking a flyer on a projectable player that can develop in the G League. He may not help the Sixers in the present but could develop into a big part of their future.

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