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June 26, 2017

Embiid, Saric named to NBA All-Rookie First Team – but will either Sixer win Rookie of the Year?

Sixers NBA
041317_Saric-Embiid-Brogdon_AP AP/Staff Illustration

Will Malcolm Brogdon, center, edge out Dario Saric, left, and Joel Embiid to take home 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year honors?

For the first time in franchise history, a pair of Sixers players – center Joel Embiid and forward Dario Saric have been named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in the same season.

Saric, along with Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon, was a unanimous selection, receiving a first-team vote from all 100 voters. Embiid, despite playing in just 31 games this season, finished in third with 82 first-team votes and seven second-team votes.

Here's a look at how the full voting played out:

2016-17 All-Rookie First Team

Player | Team | First (2 pts) | Second (1 pt) | Total

•  Malcolm Brogdon | Milwaukee | 100 | -- | 200
•  Dario Saric | Philadelphia | 100 | -- | 200
•  Joel Embiid | Philadelphia | 82 | 7 | 171
•  Buddy Hield | Sacramento | 63 | 28 | 154
•  Willy Hernangomez | New York | 44 | 40 | 128

All-Rookie Second Team

•  Jamal Murray | Denver | 34 | 55 | 123
•  Jaylen Brown | Boston | 24 | 58 | 106
•  Marquese Chriss | Phoenix | 20 | 51 | 91
•  Brandon Ingram | Los Angeles Lakers | 11 | 61 | 83
•  Yogi Ferrell | Dallas | 7 | 49 | 63

Others Receiving Votes

With point totals (first-place votes in parentheses)

Rodney McGruder, Miami, 61 (7); Caris LeVert, Brooklyn, 36 (2); Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City, 19 (4); Tyler Ulis, Phoenix, 10 (1); Patrick McCaw, Golden State, 8; Skal Labissiere, Sacramento, 7 (1); Kris Dunn, Minnesota, 5; Juancho Hernangomez, Denver, 5; Taurean Prince, Atlanta, 5; Isaiah Whitehead, Brooklyn, 5; Alex Abrines, Oklahoma City, 4; Davis Bertans, San Antonio, 3; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio, 3; Thon Maker, Milwaukee, 3; Andrew Harrison, Memphis, 2; Fred VanVleet, Toronto, 1; Dragan Bender, Phoenix, 1; DeAndre’ Bembry, Atlanta, 1; Jakob Poeltl, Toronto, 1; Malcolm Delaney, Atlanta, 1.  


All-Rookie Team isn't the only honor being handed out on Monday.

During the 2017 NBA Awards Show, either Saric or Embiid could hear his name announced again, this time as 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year.

As recently as March, Saric was the Vegas favorite to take home the extra piece of hardware, but as it gets closer, a fellow unanimous All-Rookie First Team selection has surpassed the Sixers forward, according to oddsmakers.

But what do their stats say – and, of course, keep in mind that Embiid only appeared in 31 games and was on a minutes restriction all season – about which player is most deserving?


























28.711.1 3.0 1.2 3.5 5.4
17.68.7 3.1 1.0 0.5 3.1
13.93.9 5.8 1.5 0.2 2.1

Here's an even more in-depth (and color-coded) breakdown of their stats:

But, as I wrote back in April, the voting format for Rookie of the Year could actually be the biggest obstacle for Saric or Embiid to overcome:

Here's how it works: A panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters will submit a ballot with three players – first place (worth 5 points), second place (3 points) and third place (1 point) – who they think should be ROY. The winner is based on total number of points, so there's a chance that the player with the most first-place votes doesn't actually wind up winning. (Last year's winner, Karl-Anthony Towns, received all 130 first-place votes.)

In fact, both Embiid and Saric could receive more first-place (and third-place) votes than Brogdon and still lose. 

Here's just one example of how that could happen:

 1st (PTS)2nd (PTS)3rd (PTS)TOT PTS
50 (250)20 (60)60 (60)370
Saric45 (225)35 (105)50 (50)380
Brogdon35 (175)75 (225)20 (20)420

And that's assuming no other players receive votes, which almost certainly won't be the case. 

There will also be some writers who leave Embiid completely off the ballot because he only played in 31 games this season – and even more who will refuse to list him first on their ballots for that very same reason. That fact alone, based on the total points system, is going to make it very difficult for the rookie center to win the award at all.

Furthermore, Embiid and Saric could split the vote among Sixers sympathizers and those who don't think a team's record is entirely indicative of a rookie's contribution. In other words, those who do actually vote for Embiid could be taking valuable points away from his teammate. [PhillyVoice, 4/13/17]

And that's part of the reason why our own Rich Hofmann believes Embiid won't win Rookie of the Year, despite the fact that he's "one of the best rookies in NBA history" – not to mention one of the most entertaining.

My gut feeling is that Embiid won’t win, and it will be interesting to see how the votes shake out. In the latest rookie ladder, Scott Howard-Cooper writes, “He is the guy who could get first-place votes and also be left out off the ballot by others.”

I wouldn’t fault someone for voting Embiid, simply because his 786 minutes could have been more impactful than Saric and Malcolm Brogdon’s 2000. Again, rookies aren’t good!

Call me old-fashioned in this regard, but I just can’t get there. Embiid is one of the most exciting rookies in NBA history, but just like his all-star case, Process trusting doesn’t make up for the minutes disparity. Embiid is one of the best rookies in NBA history, but he needs to play more consistently moving forward.  [PhillyVoice, 4/7/17]

So if Embiid is out of the running – and the vote totals for the All-Rookie team would suggest that ROY is actually a two-man race between Saric and Brogdon – who has the edge between the two guys left standing? Here's more from Rich:

It’s a tricky choice because I’m not certain either player would be as effective if they traded roles. Brogdon’s efficiency would likely plummet as the top scoring option in Philly, while Saric’s shaky jumper might mess with the Bucks’ spacing.

Considering Brogdon is a year and a half older than Saric and playing more in an off-ball role, I think Dario will have the better career as he refines his three-point shot. But if we’re really rewarding the best rookie season, Brogdon definitely has a case if Embiid is out of the running.  [PhillyVoice, 4/10/17]

We'll find out on Monday night, but if you're wondering what media members were saying immediately following the conclusion of the regular season, we've got you covered.

Writer Outlet 1st 2nd 3rd
Kurt Helin NBC Sports Brogdon Embiid Hernangomez
Dan Feldman NBC Sports Brogdon Embiid Saric
Dan Feldman NBC Sports Brogdon Embiid Saric
Scott Howard-Cooper Brogdon Saric Embiid
Bill Reiter CBS Sports Saric --- ---
Ethan Skolnick CBS Sports Brogdon --- ---
Matt Moore CBS Sports Brogdon --- ---
James Herbert CBS Sports Brogdon --- ---
Jack Maloney CBS Sports Brogdon --- ---
Joseph Levin CBS Sports Brogdon --- ---
Ben Golliver Sports Illustrated Embiid --- ---
Andrew Sharp Sports Illustrated Embiid --- ---
Rob Mahoney Sports Illustrated Saric --- ---
Rohan Nadkarni Sports Illustrated Brogdon --- ---
J.A. Adande Embiid --- ---
Kevin Arnovitz Brogdon --- ---
Bradford Doolittle Brogdon --- ---
Amin Elhassan Brogdon --- ---
Jeremias Engelmann Brogdon --- ---
Chad Ford Embiid --- ---
Chris Forsberg Saric --- ---
Nick Friedell Saric --- ---
Israel Gutierrez Saric --- ---
Tom Haberstroh Embiid --- ---
Chris Haynes Embiid --- ---
Baxter Holmes Embiid --- ---
Zach Lowe Brogdon --- ---
Tim MacMahon Embiid --- ---
Jackie MacMullan Embiid --- ---
Dave McMenamin Embiid --- ---
Kevin Pelton Brogdon --- ---
Ramona Shelburne Embiid --- ---
Ethan Strauss Embiid --- ---
Marc Spears Embiid --- ---
Marc Stein Embiid --- ---
Justin Verrier Embiid --- ---
Calvin Watkins Brogdon --- ---
Brian Windhorst Embiid --- ---
Mike Wise Brogdon --- ---
Michael Wright Embiid --- ---
Royce Young Saric --- ---
Ohm Youngmisuk Embiid --- ---

Originally published 4/13/17


*based on total first place votes in above table

•  Embiid - 18
•  Brogdon - 18
•  Saric - 6

Turns out it was a two-man race, just not between the two men we were expecting... 

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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