Ben Simmons recently said that the perceived “race” between him and Donovan Mitchell wasn’t even a race. He said the whole thing was media orchestrated, based on his rather simple logic of “did you see the votes?”
Now, as we all know Simmons was not a rookie. He was a sophomore, but with how eligibility rules work since he didn’t play his first season due to injury, he was ruled a rookie. Donovan Mitchell, on the other hand, was a rookie. I won’t get into the pros and cons of each player because they each bring something different. Simmons is a point forward, and Mitchell is one of the best guards in the class.
The issue I have with this mostly is the voting system. Even though Simmons wasn’t a rookie, and the 76ers performed exactly to the level they were predicted to be at, he was rewarded. He showed he was worthy of the #1 pick two years ago. Mitchell, on the other hand, overperformed in every way and sense. He was a tail end lottery pick to a defensive first team, and he had a lot of red flags. A lot of people thought they were just going to stash him on some team and not even play him. However, he played himself from a bench role to starter. He played from not even being listed in the top 10 best odds to win ROTY, to getting second in the voting. He took a team that wasn’t even supposed to make the playoffs to the second round in said playoffs.
At the end of it all, Simmons was rewarded for the media coverage. Not his performance. It’s like Tua placing second in the Heisman voting: YOU have to lead YOUR team. You can’t just follow along on someone else’s coattails.