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April 13, 2017

What they're saying about Sixers: Who should be 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year?

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110616_Embiid_AP Chris Szagola/AP

Will Sixers center Joel Embiid be the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the year despite playing in just 31 games?

It's no stretch to suggest that the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year award will go to one of three players: Sixers center Joel Embiid, forward Dario Saric or Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon.

As you can see, it's a close race, one that will likely come down to the panel's collective feeling about Embiid playing in so few games.

Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, who didn't play a game this season due to a broken foot, wouldn't pick between his two teammates, but eliminated the Bucks guard from consideration.

“Somebody from the Sixers for sure,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Richaun Holmes, who saw a big spike in minutes once Embiid was shut down for the season, also opted for the diplomatic response, but was slightly more creative in how he went about it.

"Joel Saric," he said.

As for Embiid himself, the Sixers rookie center has no trouble deciding. He recently told Jackie MacMullan of that he's worthy of winning despite appearing in just 31 games:

"I think so," Embiid said [when asked if he should be the Rookie of the Year]. "I mean, no disrespect to other guys. Dario [Saric] is my teammate and my friend, and I love him. And I know Malcolm [Brogdon] from when I was visiting schools. When I made my visit to Virginia, he took me around. They both had great seasons.

"I know people are saying about me, 'Oh, he only played 31 games.' But look at what I did in those 31 games -- averaging the amount of points I did in just 25 minutes.

"I'm not sure why people want to punish me for that. Even going back to the All-Star Game. I didn't get chosen for that, and people were killing me because I didn't play 30 minutes a game. But here's what I don't understand: If I put up those numbers in less time than another guy, what's the difference? Doesn't it mean I did more in less time? Wait until I play as many minutes as those guys, then you will see what I do.

"But people have their own ideas about how they vote for things."  []

Unfortunately for Embiid, who, like Saric, will also have to overcome the voting process, those "ideas" are more frequently resulting in him be penalized for his lack of playing time this season.

Even if they don't know the name of the other guy they'd vote for instead...


Here's a look at what the national media is saying about the Rookie of the Year race:

Better than nothing?

Staff |

The guys over at picked winners for all the year-end awards, but we’re only worried about Rookie of the Year. And based on their votes, it’s not looking good for either Sixers rookie.

Here’s what they had to say:

Bill Reiter: Dario Saric

It's a down season for rookies, but Dario Saric has been a rare bright spot on a team in desperate need of them. Discounting teammate Joel Embiid, who played in just 31 games, Saric leads rookies in points per game and is second in rebounds per game.

Ethan Skolnick: Malcolm Brogdon

Second in minutes in an uninspiring rookie class, and first in win shares, steals and assists, while keeping turnovers down and shooting efficiently (40.3 percent from three, 86.5 percent from the line), the mature play-maker has been a season-long factor on a competitive team.

Matt Moore: Malcolm Brogdon

I was sold on Saric, had his name in there and everything. But Brogdon does so much for the Bucks. He's already a good defender. He's their best play-maker behind Giannis Antetokounmpo. He's shooting above 40 percent from 3-point range. And he's doing this on a team that is in the playoffs, where it's even harder to get minutes. Saric has been great. Brogdon has been the best rookie in a class compromised by Joel Embiid's injury.

James Herbert: Malcolm Brogdon

Few rookies help their team win, but Brogdon did that consistently all season with heady defense and a desperately needed combination of shooting and play-making.

Jack Maloney: Malcolm Brogdon

He's leading rookies in assists and steals, is fourth in scoring and is shooting over 40 percent from downtown. Plus, he stole the starting point guard role and has been instrumental in the Bucks' late-season playoff push.

Joseph Levin: Malcolm Brogdon

Malcolm Brogdon leads all rookies in assists and steals, while sitting second in 3-point percentage and fourth in scoring. The all-important factor, of course: He's doing it on a playoff team.  []

It's not getting better...

Staff | ProBasketballTalk

Here’s how the ProBasketballTalk staff would vote for ROY – and it’s important to note that Kurt Helin has an official ballot this year. [We just included their picks; to see why they voted the way they did, click here.]

Kurt Helin
1. Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
2. Joel Embiid, 76ers
3. Willy Hernangomez, Knicks

Dan Feldman
1. Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
2. Joel Embiid, 76ers
3. Dario Saric, 76ers

Dane Carbaugh
1. Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
2. Dario Saric, 76ers
3. Joel Embiid, 76ers


More Brogdon love

Scott Howard-Cooper |

That Brogdon is also the feel-good story of a second-round pick, No. 36 overall, who beat long odds should have no place in the decision. The judgment should be on where a player is, not where he was as training camp opened. Besides, Saric has the positive story line of coming to the NBA after being drafted, spending two more seasons in Europe as hype built, and showing he was worth the wait. Embiid similarly made the 76ers look good for being patient as he came back after losing the two previous seasons to injury and tore through most of the competition while flashing a fun personality.

It is Brogdon’s efficiency and dependability that makes the difference. If he wins, his 10.2 points per game would be the lowest ever for a Rookie of the Year, less than the 10.7 of 1952-53 winner Don “Monk” Meineke. Brogdon is shooting 45.3 percent overall, No. 12 in the class, (second among rookie guards) -- a good number for a veteran playing in the backcourt -- and 40.3 percent behind the arc.  []

RELATED: How voting process can prevent Saric and Embiid from winning ROY

Finally... I was starting to worry

Staff | Sports Illustrated

At last, there’s some love for the Sixers, specifically Embiid. Here’s a snippet of what the staff over at had to say about their ROY picks. [Read all their NBA award picks, here.]

Ben Golliver: Joel Embiid, 76ers

As hard as it is to rationalize giving the honor to Joel Embiid, who missed his first two rookie seasons due to injury and held up for just 31 games this season, the Sixers center was leaps and bounds better than anyone from the 2016 draft class. He paced all rookies with at least 300 minutes played in PER, averaged nearly twice as many points as Malcolm Brogdon, shot better than 40% on threes, posted a sterling 99.1 defensive rating, and led Philadelphia to a 13-18 record while in the lineup (compared to 15-35 when he sat). 

Andrew Sharp: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Don't tell me he didn't play enough games! First of all, there are no rules for any of these awards—we're not electing Joel Embiid to Congress (but should we? can we?). Second, Embiid is quite literally the rookie of this year. In two weeks or 20 years, if anyone talks about rookies who emerged in the 2016-2017, the conversation will begin and end with the player who played 31 games. I like Dario Saric and I've liked Malcolm Brogdon since the draft, but they're not in the same category. 

Rob Mahoney: Dario Saric, 76ers

It’s hard to work as a versatile, playmaking big on a team that lacks for order and spacing. Saric found his lane. Brogdon’s season undoubtedly meant more considering that he plays for a more competitive team, but Saric’s edge in productivity and successes in spite of an uphill grind endear me to his case.

Rohan Nadkarni: Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks

Give me Brogdon, who has played a significant role on a playoff team. The Embiid situation is the elephant in the rookie room, but I just don’t feel comfortable giving a year-long award to someone who only played 31 games.  []

Let's hope this forecast is correct

Staff |

We polled the ESPN Forecast panel of experts for their votes -- both their preferences and their predictions.

To determine the order, we used the NBA's point system for first-, second- and third-place votes. We've also included the number of first-place votes each player (or coach) received.

Here's a look at who they think will win in a race deemed "too close to call."

And here's who they think should win, based on percentage of first-place votes:

  1. Joel Embiid: 38%
  2. Malcolm Brogdon: 36%
  3. Dario Saric: 26%

Here we go again...

Zach Lowe |

You can find the ROY picks for every writer here (and in our handy table at the bottom of this post). But it's safe to assume Zach Lowe's ballot isn’t going to make Sixers fans happy…

1. Malcolm Brogdon
2. Dario Saric
3. Buddy Hield

For 31 games, Joel Embiid was one of the best rookies in league history. The Sixers -- the freaking Sixers -- performed like a playoff team during Embiid's outrageous 786 minutes.

Unfortunately, the NBA season consists of 82 games. Had Embiid played more of them, Philly might have actually been a playoff team. I'm sorry that one of the baseline requirements for being a productive NBA player is playing in NBA games.  []

On the other hand

Seth Rosenthal |

For the counter argument, here’s on of Seth Rosenthal’s four reasons why the award should go to Embiid:

Reason No. 2: His minutes limit is actually impressive!

Embiid played only 786 minutes over 31 games — that’s like, half of each game. And even under that limit, he still produced like a star. He averaged 20.2 points per game. He still blocked more shots per game than anyone but Rudy Gobert. He was still in the top 10 in free throw attempts per game! That’s like getting the perfect 8-minute abs in only 4 minutes.  []

There's also this:

All the ballots in one place

Here's a look at all the above picks in a handy table (as well as all those picks I mentioned earlier).

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 --- ---


*based on total first place votes in above table

Joel Embiid - 18
Malcolm Brogdon - 18
Dario Saric - 6

Great. We've solved nothing...

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