Philadelphia 76ers: who should be Rookie of the Year?

Dec 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the 76ers 123-116. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the 76ers 123-116. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA season is over for the Philadelphia 76ers which means that the next things up for debate are roster moves, awards, and the draft.

Today, I’ll take a crack at one of the more compelling arguments concerning Philadelphia 76ers fans. Who wins the Rookie of the Year award?

At this point, it’s down to three contenders, two who are on the Philadelphia 76ers. They are Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Malcolm Brogdon. Overall, it’s a relatively weak rookie class but someone has to win the award right?

Lukas Harkins of Behind the Buck Pass has compiled a handy spreadsheet for comparing the Rookie of the year contenders which can be found below:

I’ll go through the cases for and against each player before offering who my final pick would be if I had a vote (I don’t). So, let’s get processing!

Joel Embiid: 31 games played, 25.4 minutes per game, 20.2 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, 2.45 blocks per game, 2.1 assists per game, .87 steals per game

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Let’s begin with this, if Joel Embiid made it through the entire season for the Philadelphia 76ers, he would be a shoe-in for the award. When on the court he played like a transcendent talent and was able to register nine double-doubles in 31 games. That nine is third among rookies while playing in fewer games than his peers. Stats wise, Embiid had a unique rookie season that is almost unprecedented but he will be held back by the sample size numbers.

Embiids 786 minutes played would be less than half of the number for the shortest ROTY season (Kyrie Irving in 2012). Embiid was the best rookie when he was on the court and almost made the all-star game as a rookie but it’s tough to make a valid case for someone who only played in 38 percent of the regular season.

Honestly, I don’t think that Embiid should be eligible for this award for two reasons. He should have needed to play in at least 50 percent of the team’s games. Also, the seasons that Embiid missed due to injury during which he improved his shot, should have made him ineligible. While he didn’t see the court in those years, it still gave him an unfair advantage over his peers.

Dario Saric: 81 games played, 26.3 minutes per game, 12.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, .4 blocks per game, 2.2 assists per game, .7 steals per game

With our next member of the Philadelphia 76ers to make an appearance on this list, we see the stark contrast between Embiid’s numbers and everyone else. In a normal year, Saric wouldn’t have a chance at the award but thanks to injuries to his fellow teammates, Saric is in the final listings for it.

Saric was a rotational piece for the Philadelphia 76ers until injuries thrust him into the starting lineup in January. Since then, Saric has averaged 14.6 points per game. Over the course of the season, Saric has picked up 10 double doubles as he has shown that he doesn’t shy away from crashing the boards.

Saric’s issue is that if Embiid doesn’t get injured, he doesn’t make as big of an impact on the Philadelphia 76ers. While this technically isn’t a knock on Saric it is another point in Embiid’s favor. Also, when it comes to efficiency, Saric was by far the worst of the three.

Malcolm Brogdon: 75 games played, 26.4 minutes per game, 10.2 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game, .2 blocks per game, 4.2 assists per game, 1.1 steals per game

Brogdon presents an interesting case because he is the only member of this list who will be going to the playoffs. While this usually doesn’t hold a ton of weight, when the numbers are as close as they are, it should matter. While Brogdon has scored fewer points than Dario Saric he has done his scoring in a more efficient manner.

Brogdon has also contributed more to the success of the Bucks even if it was off the bench for the most part. When it comes to Brogdon vs Embiid there is no question who was better when on the court but this is where Embiid’s games played issues come back to bite him again. Brogdon isn’t going to have the same rebounding numbers as Embiid and Saric but he makes up for it with a superior steal rate.

One of the arguments against Brogdon is that he has superior teammates but just as that shouldn’t hurt James Harden in the MVP race, it shouldn’t hurt Brogdon in the ROTY race. It’s definitely a close call though.

Who wins out:

For me, it comes down to Brogdon vs Embiid. My issues are that it forces a choice between games played vs longevity. If Embiid were able to play in even 10 more games to complete half of the Philadelphia 76er’s games, I would feel more comfortable making a case in his favor. Since he didn’t I’ve gotta take Brogdon.

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For Brogdon vs Saric, while the counting stats are close, efficiency ratings and Brogdon’s knack of not turning the ball over are what helps him win out in the end. On actual ballots it will likely be split between Brogdon and Embiid for one and two and Brogdon will likely garner more second place votes than Saric, helping him win out.

While it will be a disappointment for Philadelphia 76ers fans to not have the Rookie of the Year, Brogdon fully deserves the award this year.