Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons named finalists for NBA awards – NBCSports.com

Updated: 9:40 p.m.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons believed throughout this season they should be named Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, respectively. On Wednesday, the NBA revealed both are finalists for their sought-after awards.

Defensive Player of the Year
Embiid is up against Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. Before he declared last week his new goal of winning MVP, Embiid had his sights set on this award. He didn’t hold back on why he should win it, either. 

“I still feel like I’ve been the best defensive player in the league this year,” Embiid said in April (see story). “Last year, I kind of had the knock on me of not playing a lot of games, but this year I’ve played a lot of games, so I don’t know what excuse they’re going to find next.”

Embiid: 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 0.6 steals

Gobert: 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 0.8 steals

Davis: 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks*, 1.5 steals

* = led the NBA

Rookie of the Year 
Simmons is in a highly-anticipated race against Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. Mitchell took a shot at Simmons by wearing a sweatshirt with the definition of the word “rookie” on it to question Simmons’ eligibility. Simmons missed all of last season because of a foot injury and has emphasized no time spent around a team while sidelined can replicate actually playing in a game. 

The Sixers’ point guard also said he would like to win the award for teammates Embiid and Dario Saric, who lost to Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon last season (see story)

“It would mean a lot, but at the same time I don’t really judge my success on one accolade,” Simmons said recently. “So

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