Taking a look at the historic rookie playoff performances put on by Mitchell, Simmons, and Tatum

The NBA Finals are set, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meeting for a fourth consecutive year. However, these NBA playoffs have been notable for the stellar performances that rookies Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, and Jayson Tatum put on.

*All stats below are from Basketball-Reference and do not include anything before the 1964 playoffs unless stated otherwise.  

Total Points 

Donovan Mitchell (10) and Jayson Tatum (2) both finished this postseason in the top 10 among total points scored in the NBA playoffs by a rookie player. I also induced Ben Simmons below, with his ranking in parentheses. Players whose names are bolded are in the Hall of Fame.

*Information in the table below starts with 1947 playoffs.

Player Year Age Games Played Total Points PPG
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1970 22 10 352 35.2
Jayson Tatum 2018 19 19 351 18.5
Alvan Adams 1976 21 19 341 17.9
Elgin Baylor 1959 24 13 331 25.5
George Mikan 1949 24 10 303 30.3
Jack Sikma 1978 22 22 301 13.7
Wilt Chamberlian 1960 23 9 299 33.2
Magic Johnson 1980 20 16 293 18.3
Jerry West 1961 22 12 275 22.9
Donovan Mitchell 2018 21 11 268 24.4
Ben Simmons (46) 2018 21 10 163 15.9

Mitchell and Tatum became the first rookies to score this many points during the playoffs since Magic Johnson in 1980.

Total Assists, Rebounds, Steals, and Blocks

I then looked to see where these three stellar players ranked among rebound, assist, steal and block totals among past rookies in the playoffs.

*Information in tables below starts with 1947 playoffs for rebound and assists. Steals and blocks were not recorded until the 1974 playoffs.

Total Rebounds Rank for Total Rebounds Rebounds per game
Tatum 83  47 4.4
Mitchell 65 73 5.9
Simmons 94 30 9.4
Total Assists Rank for Total Assists Assists per game
Tatum 52 22 2.7
Mitchell 46 26 4.2
Simmons 77 7 7.7
Total Steals Rank for Total Steals Steals per game
Tatum 23 10 1.2
Mitchell 16 27 1.4
Simmons 17 24 1.7
Total Blocks Rank for Total Blocks Blocks per game
Tatum 10 46 0.5
Mitchell 4 140 0.4
Simmons 8 68 0.8

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20+ point games and Double-Doubles

20+ point games Double-Doubles Triple-Doubles
Tatum 10 1 0
Mitchell *9 3 0
Simmons 1 4 1

*Had two games scoring over 30 points.

Jayson Tatum’s 28 points in the Celtics game one win over the 76ers in the second-round were the third most scored by a rookie in franchise history. He is also the youngest rookie to score that many points in a playoff game.

Donovan Mitchell’s 38 points in game six of the first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder were tied for the fourth most scored by a rookie. He also had four of the top five games in Jazz playoff history in terms of points scored by a rookie.

Player Year Points
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1970 46
Magic Johnson 1980 42
Chuck Person 1987 40
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1970 38
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1970 38
Donovan Mitchell 2018 38
Lou Hudson 1967 36
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1970 36
Derrick Rose 2009 36

Ben Simmons became only the fourth different rookie (8th instance) to record a triple-double in the playoffs. His 24 points in game two of the 76ers first-round loss to the Miami Heat was tied for the fifth most scored by a rookie for the franchise. He also joined a small group of rookies to record at least four double-doubles in the playoffs.

Player Year # of double-doubles
Magic Johnson 1980 9
Charles Barkley 1985 8
Alvan Adams 1976 7
David Robinson 1990 7
Tom Burleson 1975 6
Robert Parish 1977 6
Tim Duncan 1998 6
Nate Thurmond 1964 5
Hakeem Olajuwon 1985 5
Alonzo Mourning 1993 5
Drew Gooden 2003 5
Jerry Lucas 1964 4
Luke Jackson 1965 4
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1970 4
Larry Bird 1980 4
Ben Simmons 2018 4

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Sources and Info:  (*Any sources not listed here are linked in article above)

Featured Image: “Jayson Tatum” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/t/tatumja01/gamelog/2018

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/simmobe01/gamelog/2018

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/mitchdo01/gamelog/2018

All table made using Google Spreadsheets

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