Leading up to the 2018 NBA Awards, basketball star Donovan Mitchell rocked a hoodie with the definition of “rookie” on the front, a jab at Ben Simmons, a second-year player who was in the running for the Rookie of the Year award. But last night, Simmons — and Nike — had the last laugh.
Nike-sponsored Simmons beat out Mitchell, who is backed by Adidas, for the award. Although Simmons was drafted No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2016 NBA Draft, he didn’t play a game his first season in the league, making him eligible to win this year.
For Simmons’ achievement — and in response to Adidas, the Swoosh released an ad with an image of the baller with a clear message: “Not a rookie. The rookie.”
During the regular season, the 6-foot-10 guard from Australia averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. And in the postseason, Simmons posted similar numbers, averaging 16.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists.
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Simmons hit the court throughout the season Nike Hyperdunk 2017, which features React foam cushioning and a half inner sleeve to keep one’s foot snug in the shoe.
Mitchell averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game in his rookie campaign with the Jazz.
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