NBA Rookie of the Year
Before the NBA season started most people would have guessed the Rookie of the Year would come from the Philadelphia 76ers. With number one draft pick Ben Simmons and former number one draft pick Joel Embiid both set to start their careers with the 76ers, many guess one of the two would take home the honors. Then misfortunate struck for a 76ers franchise, something they know all too well. Ben Simmons developed a stress fracture injury and would miss the entire season.
Joel Embiid who sat out his first two NBA seasons due to similar stress fracture injuries did make his debut this season and did not disappoint. Embiid took the NBA by storm and was almost named an All Star before a meniscus tear unfortunately ended his season too. Embiid’s stats are more than worthy of earning the Rookie of the Year honors averaging 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and blocking 2.5PG, but he only played in thirty one games before his season was cut short.
With the two favorites in the league to win Rookie of the Year out, another player from this young 76ers roster has taken the reins and is starting to run away with the award. Little known Croatian big Dario Saric has taken the league by storm over the last month. Winning Rookie of the Month honors in February, Saric averaged 17 points for the month and added 7.9 rebounds. He also scored 20 or more 5 times in the month.
Drafted in the 2014 draft by the Magic, Saric was apart of a draft day deal that swapped himself and Elfrid Peyton. Saric decided to stay in Europe for a few seasons (playing with Euro league team Anadolu Efes) before coming to Philadelphia this year. With the 76ers crowded frontcourt it was unclear how many minutes Saric would receive. After unfortunate injuries and the trade of center Nerlens Noel, Saric has taken full advantage of his opportunity.
This year’s rookie class hasn’t been as strong as years past but Saric has done his part. Milwaukee Bucks second round pick, guard Malcolm Brogdon, has also played well this year (10ppg 4.1apg) and looks to be Saric’s only competition. The Croatian big man has proven he can play in the NBA and has a huge role in the 76ers organization going forward.
By Keith Bowman