Is Joel Embiid not Deserving of the Rookie of the Year Nod?
Simple question for you, who wins the Rookie of the Year award? Joel Embiid of course, right?
Joel Embiid seems to be the consensus favourite to win the Rookie of the Year Award. Arguments were even made for the Philadelphia Sixers big man to even crack the All-Star Game Eastern Conference roster. Prior to being shut down for the season due to a torn meniscus, Embiid has averaged 20.2-points, 7.8-boards, and 2.5-blocks per game, all while playing on a 25-minute restriction. His per-36 minutes numbers are even more ridiculous – 28.1-points, 11.1-boards as well as 3.0 blocks.
Outside of Embiid, the 2016 Draft class has been very underwhelming. First overall pick Ben Simmons has not played a single NBA minute. Brandon Ingram has shown glimpses of star potential, but to this point has been largely ineffective, and while the Sacramento Kings’ genius owner Vivek Ranadivé believes Buddy Hield will become a Steph Curry calibre player in the future, the Oklahoma alum hasn’t had the greatest of seasons either.
A rookie of the year case can easily be made for Embiid. He has been the best rookie in his class and it hasn’t really been close.
But there is one slight problem. Embiid has only played in 31-games this season.
Only issue is, Embiid will finish the season having played but 31-games. He hasn’t been able to suit up for even half the team’s games – 10 fewer than half actually. Back in the day, Patrick Ewing won the Rookie of the Year prize, playing the fewest game ever by the award’s winner. But even then, Ewing played 50-games and logged in more than twice as many minutes as Embiid has (1,771).
So I guess the most logical question I am trying to ask is really – should Embiid win the award after playing only 31-games?
If the award is given to the best rookie in the NBA, well then Embiid could play ten games on the season and still win the award by a landslide, but should something be said for longevity, the battle of attrition that a 82-game regular season is? Taking part in the back-to-backs, helping a team each and every night?
What would it say about the NBA if a player who has played in nearly a third of his team’s 82-possible games and won an award given to a player who has proven to be effective over the span of an entire season? Let’s look back at the 10-game hypothetical. Embiid would easily be the best rookie if he played ten games on the season, but can him winning an award really be justified?
Of course not! So why should 31-games be enough justification? 31-games, all of which on minute restrictions for a player who did not play back-to-backs?
It’s not right. As great as Embiid has been and he has really been incredible, and granted he has given a team that has spent a near decade in the Eastern Conference basement some sense of vision, a future – a base from which to build on – the NBA cannot give him a regular season award when he could not participate in even half of the regular season itself.
So using that rationale, who then takes home the award in an otherwise unimpressive 2016 class?
Enter a five-year product out of Virginia. By no means an Ingram or a Hield, or any flashy name of the kind. Malcolm Brogdon was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the sixth pick of the second round and has quietly had a solid debut season in an otherwise disappointing, injury-riddled season for the Bucks.
“I think he should be Rookie of the Year,” Said Head Coach Jason Kidd. “For what he has done being drafted in the second round. That’s probably being a little biased. I think it’s a great story. He’s a student of the game. He works extremely hard, not just on the court, but off the court, studying film and asking questions.”
Biased yes, but objectively speaking, he couldn’t be more right.
The 24-year old shooting guard leads all first-year players in assists (4.1), win shares (2.9), and three-point percentage (42.5). He is averaging 10-points per game, which ranks him third among rookies. He has also averaged 2.7-boards and 1.1-steals per game. Another red star on his resume are a couple of poster dunks, one over LeBron James and another over Kyrie Irving. Brogdon was also the first rookie to record a triple-double this season.
“It makes it fun to come to work when you have the opportunity to coach someone like that,” Said Kidd in reference to the 6’5” rookie.
A humble kid who puts in the work, Brogdon fits into the Bucks mold of a lanky player, who is a good defender, can slash and kick out the ball as well as score effectively.
No, Brogdon has not had the same affect on the Bucks as Embiid has had on the Sixers, but Brogdon has been given a different role. He was given an opportunity, he literally took the ball and ran with it, cementing himself as a big part of what should be a bright future in Milwaukee. He has not only excelled in his role, but has gone above and beyond expectations.
Most importantly, Brogdon has took part in all 63-games the Bucks have played on the season and that, along with his extended effectiveness should be rewarded by the Association.