NBA: Reviewing last year's Rookie of the Year finalists
A funny thing can happen to rookies in the NBA. Players can get drafted really high and then never reach their potential, players can get drafted really low and far exceed their potential.
Players can have an outstanding rookie season but fall out of form in their sophomore season, or can be disappointing in their rookie seasons but blossom in their second, third or sometimes even fourth seasons.
No matter how much draft analysis you can do on a player, their future is never certain and this can be due to a variety of reason such as injury, mental reasons, chemistry issues, or sometimes it just might not work as you had hoped. In this piece, I am going to take a look at three of the Rookies from last season and review how they have performed so far in their sophomore seasons.
Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum & Donovan Mitchell were the all deserved of being Rookie of the Year finalists last season, and have all been earmarked for success this season. But all three have had an interesting season with their teams so far. Simmons has had to deal with chemistry/trade issues at the Sixers, Mitchell and the Jazz have been disappointing this season and Tatum and the Celtics have finally started to figure out their lineups and rotations with injury returns.
For the next generation of elite players, as we see players like LeBron James & Dwayne Wade seem to drift into the twilight of their careers, focus and pressure from all fronts of the league is on these players - especially these three.
Can they all take their games to the next level and lead their team to success as well as continue to gain individual success? Only time will tell. But for now, we can review where they sit currently through the first part of the 2018-2019 season.
#1 Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons, the latest recipient of the Rookie of the Year award. There was much controversy around Simmons' crown last season as he was technically drafted the season before, but did not play a game due to injury.
Fellow Rookie of the Year finalist Donovan Mitchell was seen throughout the season wearing a hoodie that sported the definition of a rookie in a move that was meant to sway voters his way, but nevertheless, Simmons still came away with the win. Last season Simmons & Joel Embiid led the Sixers to the Eastern Conference semi-finals where they went down to Boston 1-4, and he finished last season with a stat line of 15.8 PTS, 8.1 REB & 8.2 AST.
This season, Simmons was expected to lead the 76ers deeper into the playoffs and to elevate his game to the next level by becoming an elite level point guard. The Sixers currently sit 3rd in the Eastern Conference, and Simmons' season so far has been okay.
With numbers close to last season - his current stat line is 15.4 PTS, 9.0 REB & 7.9 AST, he has had to learn how to play now with the inclusion of Jimmy Butler in the team. Simmons' needs to continue to elevate his game, especially his shooting game. He is not really a threat from the 3pt line - has even made a single 3pt attempt this season!
With 3pt shooting continuing to become an even bigger part of today's game, if Simmons can develop a shot and even become a threat from the line forcing opponents to guard him, then he truly will be pushed up to the next level in the league of a potential All-NBA player.