2016-17 NBA Odds: Can Ben Simmons Still Win Rookie of the Year?
Ben Simmons was looking like a flat out lock to win the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year award. The Philadelphia 76ers plucked him off the 2016 NBA Draft board as the #1 pick, offered high praise for his versatility and were piecing together a plan to get the most out of his immense talent and versatility in his first NBA season.
All of that is now being looked at in the past tense.
Per reports, Simmons fractured his right foot and faces an uncertain absence in his rookie season. The injury is to the fifth metatarsal, which could keep him out for the next 6-8 weeks and possibly much longer.
Ben Simmons was drafted to be the new face of the 76ers.
How his injury could derail the team's plans to rebuild: https://t.co/steKQqWqmA
— ESPN (@espn) October 1, 2016
The “much longer” is the concern for Philly’s top pick, but what could be even more troubling is if this injury turns into a chronic issue during his first pro season. Philadelphia knows all too well about chronic foot problems, as they drafted big man Joel Embiid three years ago and this year might finally see him hit the court for the first time as a member of the 76ers.
How long Simmons actually sits out remains to be determined, as some speculate he could still return for the start of the season and others feel he’ll miss well over a month. Should there be any complications, Simmons’ status would be put in further jeopardy going forward.
With Ben Simmons being out for now, it’s caused online betting sites to re-think their 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year odds. Simmons was the most talented player in this year’s draft class and opened the year with the best odds to win the award, but now that could change.
The latest NBA ROY odds have yet to be fully updated, but we can still consider the other top options, should Simmons miss extended time this year:
Note: Our list goes from least likely to most likely and we’re only touching on NBA rookies that we feel are in a position to have a legitimate chance to win the award.
Jaylen Brown, SF, Boston Celtics
Brown starts out list off due to his top shelf scoring ability, range and overall upside. The big question is role in Boston, where the Celtics have Jae Crowder ahead of him and might have too much depth for him to really break through and have a huge year.
One thing that could open the door for a big rookie year is a possible trade involving Crowder. However, if that doesn’t happen, Brown wouldn’t feel like a great bet to win NBA Rookie of the Year.
Jamal Murray, G, Denver Nuggets
Murray might have a slightly better chance than Brown, as he’s a tantalizing combo guard with loads of upside as a scorer. Murray can shoot the lights out from deep, can penetrate and even can handle the rock. That versatility means he should have a role in Denver right away, where he can be used as a point guard behind Emmanuel Mudiay and also at shooting guard in a rotation with Gary Harris.
While that all sounds awesome, Murray is in another situation where a clear path to a massive role isn’t so obvious yet. Harris is the current starting two-guard, Mudiay should be logging heavy minutes at the one and bench scorer Will Barton should command a big role. Murray may have to pick up scraps initially and with a lot of talent in this rookie class, that may not be good enough to really compete for the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year award.
Denzel Valentine, G/F, Chicago Bulls
Valentine could have a real shot at making some noise in this year’s ROY race, but again, it depends how involved he gets. The Bulls made some big moves this summer to improve their starting five, so he does not figure to win a starting gig at any point this year.
In addition, Valentine’s game could struggle to transition initially due to subpar athleticism, while solid bench guys like Tony Snell, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic could cloud his role early on. It’s also very possible he plays above those guys immediately, and if that’s the case and he can somehow thrive, he’d potentially be in contention for Rookie of the Year honors.
Dario Saric, F, Philadelphia 76ers
Saric is an untraditional rookie, seeing as he wasn’t drafted this year. That being said, this will indeed be his first pro season, so he should be in the mix for the yearly ROY award.
It’s weird that Saric could somehow leapfrog teammate Ben Simmons, but depending on how bad Simmons’ foot injury is, it’s a very real possibility. The biggest reason why is Saric’s own natural talent. He’s a far better shooter than Simmons probably ever will be and he has the versatility to play both the three and four spots.
Saric certainly still has a lot to prove, but whispers out of Philly suggest the Sixers want to do everything they can to get him on the floor as much as possible. He showed very well at Rio in the Olympics this summer, so it feels like his upside is through the roof at the moment. Simmons could ultimately hold him back, but there is a bet to be played with Saric.
Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers
We can’t forget about another Sixer with loads of upside, as big man Embiid will technically be playing his first ever (rookie) NBA season. That should give him a shot at the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year award, and there’s plenty of reason to think he’s a viable contender.
Talent has never been the issue for Embiid, who is obviously still a huge injury risk, but has now had two years to adapt to the NBA lifestyle. Physically speaking, he’s a beast that can dominate the glass and has a shot that can stretch out almost to the NBA three. Philly will surely bring him along slowly at first, but with trade rumors constantly circling fellow big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, Embiid’s role could grow astronomically as the season wears on.
If Embiid finds himself in a big role – with or without Ben Simmons around – he could very much be in contention for NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
Buddy Hield, SG, New Orleans Pelicans
While everyone on this Rookie of the Year list certainly has the chance to make some serious noise this year, Hield is probably the first one to take seriously.
Hield was a dominant, elite scorer at Oklahoma, and with a silky smooth jumper and a terrific work ethic, he promises to be a solid asset right off the bat. He can’t help but be one, either, seeing as Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are both likely to miss the start of the year due to personal and injury reasons.
The Pellies also gutted their team, letting scorers in Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson walk. They will have little else besides Anthony Davis to lean on initially, which naturally should have Hield taking on a hefty scoring load. If he responds well, he could take that role and run with it; quickly putting him near the top of the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year voting.
Brandon Ingram, SF, Los Angeles Lakers
The #2 overall pick in this year’s draft, Ingram absolutely is in contention for NBA ROY honors this season. He already has one of the best jumpers and overall scoring skill-sets in the league, but could take time to develop his defense and overall strength.
Brandon Ingram to start season on the bench: "That drives me.” https://t.co/QuBqHN1M42
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) September 27, 2016
The presence of veteran small forward Luol Deng could also pose as a threat to reliable minutes for Ingram, who the Lakers view as a huge center piece for the future and may not want to rush him. That obviously works against him crushing it as a rookie, but he’s too talented to bet against too harshly.
The key will be Ingram at some point locking in on a big role. Once given the minutes, his scoring prowess should be unleashed, putting him in the mix for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Kris Dunn, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
If Ben Simmons is out for too long or doesn’t get adjusted to the pro game well enough early on, the next guy to consider for 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year has to be Kris Dunn.
Absolutely sucks hearing the news on Ben Simmons. 76ers can't catch a break with injuries. Kris Dunn will ride iff with the ROY.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) September 30, 2016
Dunn isn’t even locked into a starting role right now, but there might not be a more NBA-ready player in this entire draft class and new head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t going to want to wait to use one of his best players.
Dunn’s offensive game is balanced, as he can shoot from all over the floor and penetrate at will, while he can also set up teammates and run an offense. That balance thankfully extends to the other end of the court, too, as Dunn has the size, athleticism, physicality and demeanor to be a truly elite stopper on defense.
If Thibs feels Dunn is ready to be a reliable two-way threat immediately, it could spark all those Ricky Rubio trade rumors we keep hearing about. Even if it doesn’t, the Timberwolves have suggested that Dunn and Rubio can co-exist at the same time, meaning the two starting together can’t be ruled out.
One way or another, Dunn is a complete player that is ready to play at a high level right now. Provided he gets the opportunity he seems ready for, he could thrive right away and regardless of Ben Simmons’ injury status, he could run away with the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year trophy.
2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Prediction
While there is still a very tough group to compete against, for now we don’t see any reason to be prisoners of the moment and start betting against Ben Simmons. If anything, this Ben Simmons injury will hopefully even the NBA Rookie of the Year odds out a bit and make him a more attractive bet.
Obviously Ben Simmons missing any amount of time isn’t good, but if he can get back on the court and play well – like many expect him to – he’s still the favorite to win this year’s NBA ROY award.
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