The NBA Rookie of the Year race has come down to the Sixers’ Ben Simmons and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, and both men have pleaded their case of why they’re the most deserving. Simmons’ campaign focuses on his 15.9 points, 8.2 assists and 8.2 rebounds stat line, while Mitchell is leaning on his rookie-leading 20.5 points per game and the definition of the word “rookie.”
Prior to last night’s victory over the Warriors, Mitchell showed up the arena wearing a sweatshirt with the definition of rookie on the front: “An athlete playing his or her first season as a member of a professional sports team.” After the game, the former Louisville Cardinals stand out said he was just “having fun” with the hoodie and that he’s not losing sleep over the debate.
However, he also explained to reporters why he feel he’s the true Rookie of the Year.
Via ESPN’s Chris Haynes,
“I really don’t care,” Mitchell told ESPN. “The biggest thing for me is that we’re in the fourth seed and fighting for the third seed. If I’m worrying about individual awards, I’m giving up on my teammates and what we’re trying to build here. Clearly, I’m not the one losing sleep over this. I don’t care.”
“I’ll put it in perspective for people who obviously don’t play in the NBA and don’t know the life of the NBA. So, let’s say you have an exam to take on June 1 and you have a whole year to study for that exam, you’re going to get a pretty good grade on it, aren’t you? But some people may not have all that time to prepare for that exam. So, that’s how I look at it and I hope that puts it in perspective for people.”
Simmons has already explained that he feels he’s 100% the Rookie of the Year, citing his near triple-double numbers for the season. And after seeing Mitchell’s hoodie last night, Simmons responded, “If his argument is I’m not a rookie, and that’s the only argument he has, I’m in pretty good shape. There’s a rule in the NBA for a reason. I’m not going to wear a sweatshirt tomorrow though.”