Rook vs Shook Part 3: Quiet Storm
Did it really come down to this? A definition on a hoodie, meant to decide the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year Award?
Nope. It did not. The hoodie is moot. Meant to be a shot at Ben Simmons' rookie eligibility and validity, it instead actually proved his case. "Rookie: An athlete playing his or her first season as a member of a professional sports team." Donovan Mitchel fans will focus on the "member of a sports team" part of the definition but more importantly is the word "playing". Simmons absolutely benefited from spending a year with an NBA team. From strength training to diet to being around professional basketball players, he learned what the league is all about. But he's a rookie. Apologies to Mitchell, you just got unlucky.
Let's have look at the numbers. Simmons was a starter out of the gate and started all 81 games he played in. Mitchell actually started on opening night but then came off the bench more often than not until Utah's 12th game when he became their full time starter for the rest of the season. He would end up starting 71 of the 79 games he played in.
Both guys can score but only one of them can shoot. The guy that can shoot, Mitchell, shot 44% from the field. The guy that can't, Simmons, shot 55%. What kind of sorcery is this? The whole league knows you do not have a jump shot and lays 6 feet off you and you still shoot 55%? That's the wizardry of Ben Simmons. He doesn't take jumpers. So while Spida Mitchell was setting the all time record for most 3 pointers by a rookie with 186...
The Fresh Prince was setting the record for least 3 pointers made by going 0-11:
The kid is just a genius. He doesn't take shots that he can't make. Every 3 he attempted was from beyond half court with the clock running out.
How about foul shots? Mitchell shoots 81% but only averages 3.8 attempts per game. Simmons is a horrible 56% from the line and manages to keep his attempts down to 4.2 per game. Cerebral.
As for the rest of the real numbers, it looks like this. Mitchell averaged 20.5 points , 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.3 blocks over 33.4 minutes per game. Simmons put up 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks on 33.7 minutes. Numbers are numbers. The eye test says a lot more.
There is no denying Mitchell's impact. He is nothing if not emphatic:
Simmons doesn't just impact the game, he controls the game. He is the conductor orchestrating the current hoops zeitgeist. With the ball in his hand he makes the music play.
Calm. Cool. Confident. Poised. He's killing you. You know it, he knows it. He doesn't have to scream and pound his chest. He methodically takes you apart like a surgeon. He is the Quiet Storm.
Without a doubt Ben Simmons is the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year. Best rookie since LeBron James. Donovan Mitchell was awesome. He was the first rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since Carmelo Anthony. And just like Melo was unfortunate enough to be in the same draft class as The King, Spida suffered a similar fate with The Fresh Prince.
Just in case anybody needs a little perspective on the potential of the league's most recent royalty...