Simmons crowned NBA rookie of the year
AFTER completing one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent memory, Ben Simmons has been rewarded with the top honour for a first-year player in the NBA.
At the league's annual awards night, held in Santa Monica, Simmons edged out Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell to walk away with the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year award.
The 21-year-old's name is now etched alongside past winners including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird.
"I'd like to thank my family, to start off with," Simmons said on stage.
"Family. Friends. I wouldn't be here without them. And my teammates, of course. And my great coach; the city of Philadelphia, for really embracing me."
The Philadelphia 76ers point guard averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game over the course of the regular season, with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook the only other player to hit all three statistics.
Simmons helped lead his 76ers to a 52-30 record - the franchise's most successful season since 2001 - with the Australian winning four Rookie of the Month awards throughout the campaign.
The 76ers would eventually be eliminated from the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
In winning the Rookie of the Year award, Simmons edged out the Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell, who had an impressive season in his own right, as well as the Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum.
The announcement of the award does come with some controversy, with many questioning Simmons' status as a rookie, because the 21-year-old sat out his entire first year in the NBA with a broken foot.
Simmons was the No.1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, but, because he didn't play a game in the 2016-17 season, the following campaign officially became his rookie year, despite Mitchell leading a 'not a rookie' campaign; the Jazz guard's attempt at convincing the public that he should win the Rookie of the Year award, because he's a 'true' rookie.
Alas, Simmons winning the award means the majority of voters accepted his official status as a rookie, and the best one in the league at that.
"I try not to let the media hype things up, or the fans, or whatever it is, just because I know I'm doing what I love and I did what I could on the floor" Simmons said.
"Obviously it was enough. That doesn't take anything away from Jayson or Donovan; they had excellent, amazing, tremendous a season. What they were able to accomplish was great. If I played last year, one of them would've had it.
Mitchell averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game, over the course of his rookie season, while shooting 43.7 percent from the field.
Like Simmons, he was able to help lead his Jazz to the post season, before being eliminated in the second round.
Simmons becomes the first Australian to win the award - not counting the Melbourne-born Kyrie Irving - and it complements his spot in the NBA's All-Rookie First team.