SALT LAKE CITY — There is no debate for rookie of the year, if you ask Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons.
Simmons was asked by ESPN who would receive his NBA ROY vote, and the second-year NBA player — who was unable to play in 2016-17 because of an injury — reiterated that he believes he's the only one worthy of the award.
"Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent," Simmons told ESPN.com's Chris Haynes. "I think I have been playing solid all year. If you look at the numbers, you will see. People who know the game know."
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is considered the other leading candidate. He's averaging a rookie-best and team-high 20.5 points while helping Utah recover from losing Gordon Hayward and George Hill to qualify for the playoffs again.
As the ESPN article began to spread like wildfire on social media, Mitchell tweeted this GIF. One could easily assume that it was in reaction to what Simmons said, which included him responding "None" when asked what rookies have caught his attention.
Simmons has had a phenomenal first playing year on the court for the Sixers, who've won 14 games in a row and have vaulted up to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The 6-foot-10 talent averages 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists an outing. The Australian player has compiled a whopping 12 triple-doubles.
Mitchell liked these two tweets that mentioned Simmons' comments:
Jazz small forward Joe Ingles responded to Mitchell's "okay" GIF with 17 emojis of the crying-from-laughing face. Mitchell then replied back to Ingles, "Lmao bro like who cares (three laughing emojis) I’m still stuck on your dunk."
"Make sure u see my t shirt today when I come in," Ingles wrote.
"If (they) have a shirt made of this dunk already then your the (goat emoji)," added Mitchell, who played his sophomore season at Louisville while Simmons was immersed in an NBA culture last year.
Simmons told ESPN he doesn't subscribe to the notion that he isn't a rookie because he spent the season rehabbing back from a broken foot.
"Coming off a broken foot is definitely not an edge, but people are always going to say what they want to say," Simmons said. "But at the end of the day, this is my first year in the league. If you're a guy coming from overseas, you're still a rookie and you can be 30 years old. So there's a rule in there."
The Jazz created a rookie of the year campaign for Mitchell — and a defensive player of the year campaign for Rudy Gobert — but the 21-year-old rookie recently said his mind is on something else: the team.
"Right now we're the fourth seed. I’m happy about that," Mitchell said last Thursday. "That’s the biggest thing I’m worried about, is being able to stay locked in and help this team win in any way possible, because the moment I start worrying about individual awards is the moment I give up on my teammates on the court."