The NBA playoff race is officially over, but there is another race that is still grinding its way to the finish line. The race for rookie of the year, which has unanimously become a two horse race, is the hot topic for NBA fans looking to get into a debate.
Donovan Mitchell or Ben Simmons. Simple as that.
While most rookie of the year races come down to a question of who had the better season, this year’s edition features a different kind of debate – eligibility.
Ben Simmons technically got drafted one year before Mitchell, who is a true rookie, but Simmons missed all of last year due to injury. So… does it count? Well, John Wall seems like a good person to ask. After all, he famously lost out on rookie of the year to Blake Griffin who had technically been on a roster except injured the year before.
Despite the personal experience, Wall had a very unique perspective on the matter.
The following is an excerpt from Chase Hughes NBC Sports Washington article:
"In my opinion, it should be co-Rookie of the Year," he said. "I think this year's Rookie of the Year [race] is pretty interesting. Nobody thought Utah would be in the position they [are] after they lost Gordon [Hayward] and those guys. And then Rudy Gobert has been out a lot. Donovan Mitchell is having a heck of a year. Then you have Ben and he's doing what he's doing."
To be fair to Wall, it is not an unprecedented situation. Co-Rookie of the Year awards has been awarded three times before, dating back to 1970-71 when Dave Cowens and Geoff Petrie shared the honour. Since then, Elton Brand and Steve Francis in 1999-2000 and Grant Hill and Jason Kidd in 1994-95 have also been awarded Rookie of the Year in the same year.
Maybe Wall was hoping for a similar outcome the year Griffen swooped in to take the honours. After all the award is a pretty huge accomplishment, which is probably why Mitchell and Simmons are both fighting so hard to make their case.