December 01, 2017
The NBA made official what anyone with a pair of functioning eyes could see: Ben Simmons has been named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the period of October and November. Yes, that's technically two months, but don't let phrasing take away from your enjoyment of Simmons' first professional honor.
When you look at the numbers alone, it would have been hard to make a case for anybody else in the East. Simmons was the league leader for rookies in scoring, rebounding, and steals over the first month-and-a-half of the year, tied for the lead in assists, and finished second in field-goal percentage at 50.7. He was flat-out dominant, producing two triple-doubles in his first nine games and helping power the Sixers to their best start in a long time.
Simmons peers to date have not been the other rookies, but All-Stars and historic greats. He has drawn comparisons ranging all the way back to the days of Oscar Robertson, earning comparisons to Magic Johnson and LeBron James. The latter one got the Sixers in a bit of trouble when they faced the Cavs earlier in the week, but they'll deal with the backlash if it means they get to have someone like Simmons rocking red, white, and Sixers blue.
What makes the award that much sweeter for Simmons is he seemed to be a forgotten man when his peers were asked to vote on rookie award candidates back in the summer. After an impressive Summer League performance out in Las Vegas, Dennis Smith Jr. was the player's choice for Rookie of the Year favorite, followed closely by Lonzo and The Fighting Ball Family Circus.
And it wasn't just his fellow rookies who undersold his trajectory. Sixty-two percent of NBA general managers believed Ball would win the Rookie of the Year award this season, with only 24 percent casting their ballots on Simmons. Whether it's because they forgot how good he could be or just skepticism surrounding a player who isn't taking long jumpers yet, it all looks very silly now.
Simmons was honored alongside another young player who perhaps didn't get the publicity he deserved heading into the season. Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma took home the Western Conference Rookie of the Month award, and it was a pretty easy call in the other conference, too.
There's a long season left to play and a lot of career left, but the early returns on the Simmons experiment are tremendous. Any time you're a little down on the Sixers, just remember that this kid is going to be dunking...
...and yes, dunking some more...
...in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
This won't be the last award he'll get his mitts on, and it's nice to have a player of this caliber playing for the home team for once.
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