Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons' rapid ascent to superstardom earned him the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year award Monday, as he beat out Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics.
While Mitchell campaigned hard for the award down the stretch, he made sure to show the victor some love:
Originally drafted No. 1 overall two years ago, Simmons missed the entire 2016-17 season after fracturing a bone in his right foot in a scrimmage during training camp.
That led to some discussion about the validity of Simmons being a rookie this season, highlighted by Mitchell donning a hoodie with the dictionary definition of the word:
This was a situation that also cropped up seven years ago when Blake Griffin was named the NBA's top rookie after missing the previous season due to a knee injury.
Despite the controversy, Simmons' performance on the court made him hard to vote against for the award. The 21-year-old led all rookies with 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game, and his 15.8 points per game ranked third.
Per Basketball Reference, Simmons became the second rookie in NBA history with at least 1,200 points, 600 assists and 600 rebounds in their debut season. Oscar Robertson previously accomplished the feat during the 1960-61 campaign.
Simmons was also one of the biggest reasons the 76ers became one of the best stories in the NBA last season. Their 52 wins were their most since the 2000-01 season, and they made the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.
Even though Philadelphia's season came to an abrupt end in the playoffs against the Celtics, the franchise's stock is soaring with Simmons and Joel Embiid leading a talented young roster.