Two weeks ago, I asserted that no one deserved to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award for the 2016-17 season. Joel Embiid hadn’t played enough, and no one else had played well enough. I did include a few conditions under which one candidate, Embiid’s teammate Dario Saric, could win: He’d need to continue to ramp up his production and finish north of 13 points per game to really deserve it.
He hasn’t hit 13 points per game on the season yet. But he’s going to get there. And even if he doesn’t, give Saric the damn award.
Saric has dropped at least 20 in four of the Sixers’ past six games. Philadelphia has gone 3-3 over that span, including back-to-back wins over the Mavericks and Celtics. Saric has scored in double figures in 19 straight games. He has five double-doubles in his last 15 games and has had at least five assists in seven of the past 15.
He’s up to 12.5 points per game. Philadelphia is competitive. The other contenders just aren’t putting up the numbers or making the impact Saric has (albeit on a team in the cellar). I am sympathetic to the Jaylen Brown case, but 17 minutes per game — just 12 in Boston’s loss to Philly on Sunday — on a top-flight team doesn’t stack up.
It would be nice if, like the Pulitzer Prize, the NBA could determine no one is worthy of a prize. But that’s not the world we live in, and Saric is a worthy Rookie of the Year nonetheless.