Just two days ago, reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons quickly, and perhaps dismissively of any competition, stated Luka Doncic would be his pick for the 2018-19 award.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) April 1, 2019
Two days and one game against Atlanta later, another rookie might have made a strong case to sway the vote.
Hawks guard Trae Young, whose steadily rising campaign has drawn notable support from several other league sources, popped off for 33 points, 7 rebounds and 12 assists in a 130-122 victory over Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
After the game, Young responded to a prompt, acknowledging he saw Simmons’ comment, and suggested that “maybe [Simmons] thinks differently now.”
I asked Trae Young about Ben Simmons' rookie of the year comment the other day on thinking Luka should win the award. Trae had 33-12-7 tonight: "Maybe he thinks differently now." pic.twitter.com/8tztEWR0v8
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) April 4, 2019
Though the Hawks (29-50) are eliminated from the playoffs and the Sixers (49-29) are looking ahead to the postseason, Atlanta has recovered from a 7-23 start to essentially play close to .500 ball (22-27) the rest of the way. Potentially adding two top-10 picks to the existing young core could lift the Hawks into playoff contention quicker than anyone expected, meaning this is a budding rivalry with a chance to earn some competitive teeth.
Time, and award season, will tell. NBA Awards — including the Kia Rookie of the Year trophy — will officially be revealed on June 24 in a televised ceremony on TNT.