The NBA got the Rookie of the Year award totally wrong

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By John Williams, Sports Talk Philly staff 

At the first ever "NBA Awards" show on Monday night, the league announced that Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon had defeated both Joel Embiid and Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers for the honor of Rookie of the Year.  

Ironically enough, I tweeted this earlier in the day…

So when it was announced Brogdon won the award, I wasn't too surprised. That does not discount the fact that the NBA got this so objectively wrong. 

First things first; is this the rookie of the year award, or the rookie-on-a-playoff-team of the year award? Because when you look at all the numbers, there is really no way that Brogdon should have defeated either of the two sons of  "The Process."

Player GP GS Minutes PPG APG RPG BPG SPG FG% Double-Doubles
Brogdon 75 28 26.4 10.2 4.2 2.8 0.2 1.1 .457 2
Saric 81 36 26.3 12.8 2.2 6.3 0.4 0.7 .411 10
Embiid 31 31 25.4 20.2 2.1 7.8 2.5 0.9 .466 9

Joel Embiid put up some of the best numbers we have ever seen from a rookie this past season. If you want to make the argument that he didn't deserve the award because he only played 31 games due to injury, then fine, I'll accept that. Dario Saric would've had my vote over Embiid for that very reason and sure as hell would've had my vote over Malcolm Brogdon. 

The only category that Brogdon was the clear winner in was that of field goal percentage (and also three-point percentage). Other than that, he only beat Saric by .4 steals per game, two assists per game and .1 minutes per game (Saric played more minutes this season overall). 

Saric was the best player on his team for the second half of the season. While both Brogdon and Saric were used in multiple different roles over the course of the year, it was Dario who saw time playing in every role possible and, even if he didn't start off great in said role, he eventually got comfortable and left his mark. By the February, when Joel Embiid was done for the season, Saric was the best player on the court night in and night out and kept the Sixers in so many games that they had no business competing in. Mind you, Brogdon played on a much better team that had a superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo on it.

While some of these awards sound pretty straight forward, we need to all get on the same page with what they each mean. We see this time and time again in multiple sports, but the issue is most prominent in the NBA.

For example, many people misinterpret the MVP award. The MVP award should go to the most valuable player to a team in a single season, not the best player in the league, per se. LeBron James is the best player in the league, but this past season, he didn't deserve the award; Russell Westbrook did, and the voters got it right. 

Westbrook, of course, had the best numbers in the league collectively, averaging a triple-double per game. The reason he won the MVP, however, is because his team would have been absolutely horrible without him there. I would go as far to say–and some may disagree–that the Thunder wouldn't win more than 25 games without him, which would have given them the third-worst record in the NBA behind the Nets (20) and the Suns (24). 

I think the same reevaluation of Rookie of the Year award must be done as well. It should be awarded to the best rookie, regardless of his team's success. And after looking at each of the rookies and what they accomplished this year, Brogdon's team making the playoffs had to be a big factor for many of the voters. 

Regardless, the award has been given out and it's time to move on.

At the end of the day, the ROY snub for both Embiid and Saric will hopefully motivate them even further for the start of the season so they can pursue another noticeable feat; a playoff berth. 

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