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Ben Simmons says '100 percent' he is Kia Rookie of Year for 2017-18

We all have to wait until the NBA Awards show on June 25 to find out who walks away with the Kia MVP, the Kia Most Improved Player Award and the Kia Rookie of the Year Award.

To Philadelphia 76ers rookie guard Ben Simmons, though, there’s no other choice for Kia ROY than himself.

In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Simmons pulled no punches about who he considers to be atop the leaderboard for the hardware, saying “Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent.” In addition, he tells Haynes he doesn’t compare himself to other rookies in contention for the award, but rather the NBA’s best of the best:

When the 6-foot-10 point guard was told the Rookie of the Year race appears to be a two-man show, he buried his head down and proceeded to chuckle. Asked what rookies have caught his attention this year, he didn’t mince words.

“None,” Simmons responded promptly. “I want to be where the greats are. So, for me, I watch the guys like [Kevin Durant], [LeBron James], [Stephen] Curry, Russell [Westbrook]. Guys like that. That’s where I want to be. I think for me, that’s what I love to watch.”

The Sixers point guard doesn’t want to be compared to Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, or any other rookie.

“I don’t really listen to comparisons,” Simmons said. “You can compare players and whatever it is, but at the same time, everybody is their own player.”

Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, sat out the entire 2016-17 season with a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot.

Some within NBA circles subscribe to the notion that Simmons is not a true rookie and shouldn’t be eligible to win the award.

“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.”

This season, Simmons is averaging 16 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game and 12 triple-doubles (the third-most in the league behind Westbrook and James). The Sixers are in the midst of a team record-tying 14-game win streak and have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2012. The Sixers’ last six wins during the 14-game run have come without star center Joel Embiid (who is out with a fractured orbital bone).

Mitchell is considered the other rookie in the chase with Simmons for ROY honors. He is averaging a rookie-and team-best 20.5 ppg while leading the Jazz to the playoffs as well. Additionally, Mitchell is second on the all-time rookie 3-point list and is closing in on the rookie single-season mark for 3-pointers — Portland’s Damian Lillard set the mark in 2012-13 with 185.

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