Simmons makes NBA Rookie Of the Year short list
THE rookie of the year race is down to three: Philadelphia's Australian star Ben Simmons, Utah's Donovan Mitchell and Boston sensation Jayson Tatum.
The three were announced by the NBA on Thursday (AEST) along with the individual finalists for the MVP, defensive player of the year and most improved awards.
Simmons finished an incredible rookie year by helping take the 76ers to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, where they lost to the Celtics in five games last week.
The 21-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
His credentials, however, have been criticised by some sections as he was the No.1 pick of the 2016 draft - but sat out the entire season with a foot injury, which is how he qualifies for the award.
Mitchell, who for much of the year has been Simmons' main rival for the rookie-of-the-year title, has fuelled the debate with the Australian by wearing T-shirts that read "ROOKIE?".
Simmons was taunted throughout the series loss to the Celtics, with Boston fans chanting "not a rookie" while he was shooting free-throws - and "he's a rookie" when Tatum did the same.
Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's LeBron James and Anthony Davis of New Orleans are the finalists for the NBA's MVP award.
Harden, who led the league in scoring, has twice been a runner-up for the award, including last year when Russell Westbrook won. James has won the MVP award four times.
The winners will be announced on June 25 in Santa Monica, California during the NBA Awards show.
Davis was also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, along with Utah's Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia centre Joel Embiid.
The other finalists
COACH OF THE YEAR: Dwane Casey, Toronto. Quin Snyder, Utah. Brad Stevens, Boston
SIXTH MAN: Eric Gordon, Houston. Fred VanVleet, Toronto. Lou Williams, Clippers
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Clint Capela, Houston. Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn. Victor Oladipo, Indiana.