Early on in the NBA season, it seemed as if Sixers' rookie Ben Simmons had locked up the NBA's Rookie of the Year award for the 2017-18 season. However, here at the mid-way mark, that has seemed to change. There are multiple players in true contention for the honor, including the Celtics very own, Jayson Tatum.
Currently, Tatum is fourth on Vegas' list to win. Behind Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell (Jazz) and Kyle Kuzma (Lakers).
Ben Simmons -650
Donovan Mitchell +400
Kyle Kuzma +2000
Jayson Tatum +2500
Simmons is averaging 17 points, 8 rebounds, and near 8 assists per game. Which is absolutely stellar for a rookie. It is going to take a lot to over come him. Donovan Mitchell, in second place, is scoring like a mad man, dropping in almost 19 points per outing. Then there is Kyle Kuzma, who is having what seems to be a quietly great year for a rook. Kuzma is averaging 17 and 6 for the Lakers.
So Jayson Tatum's 14 points and 5 rebounds don't necessarily compare. However, he has been involved in something that the other three have not, a winning team. Tatum has been a crucial part to a 33-win and only 10-loss team thus far. That can go a long way when making a case for him to win the award. The Sixers, Jazz, and Lakers are nowhere near the Celtics in the standings.
It should also be noted that Tatum is shooting nine times per game. Simmons is at 14, Mitchell is at 15, and Kuzma is at 14. So, he is averaging just a hair under these guys in scoring while taking five or six less shots than them.
The race has become much closer than it was. Simmons, still with a hefty lead, but he is losing ground week after week. Why? Well, not because he is playing worst lately. Rather, there are other rookies really stepping into the conversation, like Tatum.
There is still plenty of basketball left to be played, and if Tatum continues to progress he has a legitimate chance to win. It is going to be incredibly tough to surpass Simmons, or even the other two (Mitchell and Kuzma). However, it is not impossible. Again, Tatum has something on the docket that they don't, and those are real wins. He is also achieving similar stats, in a more efficient way.
The Rookie of the Year award usually goes to the more glamorous player (like Simmons or Mitchell). But if this were to be a Most Valuable Rookie award and votes were to be casted and based on the true meaning of "value," Tatum would win unanimously .
Photo: Hardwood Houdini