The NBA rookie survey is a fun annual look into how peers view their fellow draftees. But if this year’s tabulations are any indicator, Ben Simmons has a lot of work to do with the Sixers in order to assume the top spot in the minds of his classmates.
In a poll of 38 members of this year’s rookie class, Simmons received only the third-most votes for the question “Who will be the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year?”, trailing leader Kris Dunn (29 percent) and LA’s Brandon Ingram (25.8 percent) with 19.4 percent of the vote.
Their long-term view of his career is worse. Simmons tied for fourth in response to the question, “Which rookie will have the best career?” behind a top three of Ingram, Dunn and Buddy Hield. The Sixers rookie forward finished in a four-way tie with Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown and Jamal Murray in fourth place.
It’s not too surprising that Simmons isn’t getting more credit, as many players tend to evaluate things in binary terms. Simmons’ role on a team that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament probably played a large part in his diminished stature among his peers. Ex-player pundits often reflect a common thought process — players like Charles Barkley whose resumes have been wrongfully discredited because of over-fascination with team success turn around and subject a new wave of talent to the same absurd scrutiny. Team success (and failure) is a point of consideration, but is perhaps overvalued in some circles.
Results of the rookie survey aren’t necessarily indicative of the future, of course. 42 percent of the voters believed Jahlil Okafor would be the Rookie of the Year last season, with Karl-Anthony Towns finishing a distant third behind Stanley Johnson. Two seasons ago, Andrew Wiggins tied for second in the voting with Doug McDermott. The reverence for Hield this year highlights a general theme of support for upperclassmen.
Other Sixers rookies received votes during the process. Joel Embiid and Dario Saric gained support in the Rookie of the Year voting, while Timothe Luwawu appeared in the best shooter, biggest steal and funniest rookie categories.
If Simmons doesn’t turn into the player many think he can be, the scrutiny of incoming rookies won’t have been a factor in the process. Still, it’s fascinating to see how he stacks up against some big names in this year’s class, and we’ll have to see if he uses it as additional motivation to live up to his No. 1 pick status.