HE’S the next best thing in basketball and he’s all ours.
After a season out of the game following a fractured foot, Ben Simmons is set to launch into his NBA rookie season and is the hot favourite to win the 2017/18 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Simmons, a product of Melbourne, Australia, was the number one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and projects to play as a point guard that can adapt to four of the five positions on the court.
Compared with NBA legend Lebron James for his passing ability, versatility and explosiveness, Simmons plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers have been ‘tanking’ for near on a decade while warehousing young talent like Simmons and after some positive signs last season, it looks like Simmons will lead his club’s revival this season to become a playoff contender.
There’s no doubting it, Simmons is one of the most exciting prospects in the world when it comes to the game of basketball.
UPDATE: Just 15 games into the 2017/18 NBA Season, online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has already paid out on Simmons winning the Rookie of the Year.
The incredible Australian rookie has averaged 18 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists over the first 17 games of his career and is the overwhelming favourite at every bookmaker.Sportsbet’s decision to pay out on Simmons is incredible, considering there is another 64 games left in the season.
ICYMI We've paid out early on Ben Simmons as NBA Rookie of the Year 🇦🇺🏀🇦🇺🏀🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/5o9uUgvIpA
— Sportsbet.com.au (@sportsbetcomau) November 27, 2017
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Other contenders for 2017/18 NBA Rookie of the Year
If Simmons is going to take out the award, he’s going to have to compete with two things.
His own health and Los Angeles Lakers phenom Lonzo Ball.
After fracturing his foot and missing the entire season last year, there are concerns that Simmons won’t be able to handle the stress of an 82-game season.
Simmons has put most of those fears to bed early in the pre-season with some dominant displays that saw him outshine most veterans at his position.
New Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball plays a similar point-forward position to Simmons and like Simmons, will get ample opportunity to shine and use the ball in a struggling team lacking in creativity in his position.While most bookmakers, including Sportsbet, have Ball as a $4 second favourite, there are some bookmakers where the new Laker is the $3 favourite.
Simmons will also have to compete with his own teammate and number one draft pick from the 2017 Draft, Markelle Fultz, but at this stage Fultz seems to be more of a longer-term prospect, especially if he is starting behind Simmons.
Has an Australian ever won NBA Rookie of the Year before?
The short answer is no, an Australian has never won Rookie of the Year, nor have they ever got close.
Australian big man Andrew Bogut was a former favourite for the award after getting picked at number one in the draft by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005 and came third in voting during his rookie season.
While Australia now has a number of young, talented players in the NBA, including Bogut, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Thon Maker, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum and Aaron Baynes, Ben Simmons has a chance to not only be the best Australian to ever play in the NBA, but the best player in the league full stop.
His potential is there for all to see, but the first step to greatness is the 2017/18 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Will he win the award?
If he plays more than 65 games, it’s as good as his. Get on the $3.50 at Neds before he blows the competition apart any more than he already has.