April 10, 2018
The race for NBA Rookie of the Year just got a little bit chippy between consensus picks Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell.
Mitchell, the electric guard who has propelled the Utah Jazz to a playoff berth, gave his own silent statement on the issue Tuesday night before the Jazz took on the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Donovan Mitchell uses the dictionary definition of a rookie to respond to Ben Simmons 👀 pic.twitter.com/NhL9730xFF— Sporting News (@sportingnews) April 10, 2018
The sweatshirt reads: "Rookie (rook-ee). noun III. An athlete, playing his or her first season, as a member of a professional sports team."
Is that supposed to be a swipe at Simmons? Mitchell initially said he doesn't care about being Rookie of the Year. It looks like he changed his mind.
The apparent feud, if that's the correct definition, took a competitive turn after the Sixers sensation told ESPN he thought he was unquestionably the most deserving candidate for the award. Simmons, who has been a triple-double machine for the Sixers this year, is technically a rookie because he missed the entirety of last season due to injury.
Critics, of course, say the year of preparation Simmons got by traveling with the team gives him an unfair edge over the experience of other rookies. They also claim that Simmons could have played late last season, but the Sixers held him out in service of The Process.
Jazz were a 17-28 team at one point. Just remember that.— Ryan (@RTG3__) April 11, 2018
He's the ROY. No disrespect to Simmons but he had a year of NBA preparation and development as well as mental preparation sitting, training, rehabilitating in a NBA setting.
That’s the point. He should’ve played his first year but didn’t. And why u ask? Because he was injured but only for the 1st half if that. Sixers held him out to get a better draft pick once they determined he would be out for a long period of time they figured y not #TheProcess— Caliz_Finest (@Caliz_Finest211) April 11, 2018
Love the guy, but realistically he's not a rookie. I dont care what the rules say. An entire year with a pro team staff, trainers, facilities, meetings and teammates. Things that Donovan Mitchell and others didn't have.— 7ernell Mickey (@MickeyPernell) April 11, 2018
Other NBA observers and fans took issue with Simmons' willingness to comment on individual accolades at all, even though he was directly asked about it in a dedicated interview segment. Simmons said he isn't paying attention to any of the other ROY-contenders because he's focused on reaching the level of NBA greats like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and other superstars.
Our own Sixers beat writer Kyle Neubeck published a detailed statistical comparison between Simmons and Mitchell. He decisively concluded that Simmons is in a class of his own.
In the court of public opinion, the sweatshirt wasn't exactly a revelation (by definition, it makes Simmons a rookie) or a sign of the humility some have been ascribing to Mitchell.
That extra year in college evidently didn’t help Donovan Mitchell realize he’s highlighting Simmons being a rookie with this definition pic.twitter.com/0jS7aMd0Il— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) April 10, 2018
For someone who literally tweeted they don’t care, Donovan Mitchell seems to care a lot pic.twitter.com/KXmd1AjeU8— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) April 10, 2018
Donovan Mitchell vs. Ben Simmons is the beef we never knew we needed.— Paolo Uggetti (@PaoloUggetti) April 10, 2018
I think Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell should be co-rookie of the year honestly. Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were co-rookie of the year in 1995, and that's the only time two players have won the award.— Cameron Fields (@CameronFields_) April 11, 2018
The definition says.... “playing as a member” last season yes he was a member but he wasn’t playing you uneducated swine...... learn how to read— OGBROPHY (@ForShurrr) April 11, 2018
Donovan Mitchell going to be talking about this rookie of the year snub for years meanwhile Ben Simmons gonna be in MVP conversations for the 5th year in a row.— IG - Weezy.od (@WeezyOD) April 11, 2018
Donovan Mitchell wore a hoodie with the definition of Ben Simmons on it, how quaint— Blake Walsh (@TheBlakedGod) April 11, 2018
Nice to see him supporting Ben Simmons rookie of the year campaign— Matt Pertuso (@thesniffpatrol) April 11, 2018
This will definitely be one of the most anticipated Rookie of the Year decisions in a while. How much does it actually matter? Probably about as much as Michael Carter-Williams winning it.