If I asked you, “Who should win the NBA rookie of the year award for the 2016-17 season?” 99% of you would say Joel Embiid. My first thought when I was asked this question, was of course, Joel Embiid. Embiid captivated the basketball world with his phenomenal on the court play, his off the court stories, and his personality, which seemed to be featured on ESPN every time he played. Did you hear about how Embiid, while at Kansas, convinced some teammates that he killed a lion as a child? What about the time he hopped on stage at a Meek Mill concert and the crowd went wild? We all know he’s the best rookie this season, and he’s incredibly likable, but the harsh truth is that Embiid has only played 31 games this season, and to add insult to injury, he just got shut down for the season.
The least amount of games ever played by a rookie of the year winner was 50. Patrick Ewing and Vince Carter both won the award in only 50 games. I’m not a math wiz, but 50 is still a helluva lot more than 31. Not only has Embiid played the least amount of games ever compared to a rookie of the year winner, but he also has played the least amount of minutes per game. As we all know, the Sixers have kept Embiid on a minutes restriction to ease him back into playing basketball on a day to day basis. Embiid passed with flying colors, as he put together not just a rookie of the year resume, but also an all star resume. He narrowly missed the all star game, but got chosen to participate in the rising stars game, and the skills challenge.
Some of the guys who will contend Embiid for this award are teammate Dario Saric, Malcolm Brogdon, Brandon Ingram, and Willy Hernangomez. Realistically, it’s a three horse race between Embiid, Brogdon, and Saric–in that order. Of course, the best rookie should win the Rookie of the Year award, however, given the circumstances, I believe there’s a good chance somebody other than Embiid will win it. Malcolm Brogdon has been solid all season long, and has been the clear number two behind Embiid. However, Dario Saric has made great strides recently. With Embiid out, and Illyasova shipped off to Atlanta, it’s been all Dario for Philly. Brogdon is averaging 10 points, 4 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 44/41/84. That’s good for a rookie, and even better considering he was a 2nd round pick in last years draft. Dario “The Homie” Saric is averaging 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists, while shooting 40/31/79. It was a bit of a rough transition for Dario coming over from Europe, but now well into the season, and with extended minutes, he’s playing like a star. He’s been making a huge impact as the Sixers struggle without Embiid, Noel, and Illyasova.
I believe Joel Embiid is the best rookie this season, but I believe it will come down to Brogdon and Saric. Although I think Saric deserves the award, I think Malcolm Brogdon will be your 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year.