If you’re a regular match going basketball season, the 2020-2021 NBA season has undoubtedly been hard to adjust to. However, if you’re a young, up and coming talent looking to make tentative steps into the big time, the behind closed doors nature of this season is a blessing in disguise.
Spared from the added pressure of thousands of frenzied spectators looking down on them from the stands, a number of rookie’s have shone in the NBA this season. In this article, we look at 5 of the favourites to follow in Ja Morant’s footsteps and win the Rookie of the Year award.
If you’re looking to put your knowledge of NBA young talent to the test and bet on the NBA playoffs, read this article first.
LaMelo Ball: Charlotte Hornets
The North Carolina outfit haven’t made the playoffs in 5 years and were expected to stretch that unwanted record out to 6 years this season. At the time of writing though, the Hornets find themselves in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and look good value to make the playoffs.
Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward have been pivotal in turning around the Hornets fortunes this season, but the emergence of LaMelo Ball has certainly galvanised the team too.
Prior to suffering a broken wrist last month, Ball was the odds on favourite to win the Rookie of the Year award. Initially coming off the bench, Ball proved himself to be an exceptional passer, a great rebounder and a triple-double player.
If James Borrego manages Ball’s reintroduction into the team sensibly, the 19-year-old could do big things for the Hornets between now and the end of the season. If that happens, Ball is nailed on for Rookie of the Year.
MPG: 28.6, PPG: 15.9, TRB: 5.9, APG: 6.1, SPG: 1.6
Tyrese Haliburton: Sacramento Kings
The 6 foot 5 Tyrese Haliburton had every right to be annoyed at picked at No.12 in the draft and it appears he has used that disappointment to spur him on in his rookie season in Sacramento.
Whilst the Kings have been poor this season, they would be a lot worse off without the performances of Haliburton. Offensively and defensively he has proved himself to be head and shoulders above his teammates, looking destined for greater things throughout the campaign.
If Rookie of the Year were decided on stats alone, Haliburton would be the obvious choice. Unfortunately though, his less than spectacular playing style – which is a virtue in itself and should stand him in good stead for the future – might hamper his chances of winning the personal accolade.
MPG: 30.2, PPG: 13.2, APG: 5.0, TRB: 3.3. 3P%: .423
Anthony Edwards: Minnesota Timberwolves
Edwards was the No.1 pick in the draft and he has shown just why with a number of dazzling performances for the Timberwolves this season.
Initially appearing off the bench, Edwards excelled offensively not only posting impressive numbers but executing difficult moves too.
As the season has progressed so has his game, and if that trend continues between now and the end of the season he could be well on track to claim the Rookie of the Year award.
In fact if he were to cement his place as a regular starter for the Timberwolves he would most likely surpass the record for most points scored by a rookie.
MPG: 30.6, PPG: 17.2, TRB: 4.4, SPG: 1.0, 3P%: .308
Immanuel Quickley: New York Knicks
The New York Knicks lucked out when they got Quickley late in the first round of the draft. The youngster has looked like a quality prospect thus far this season and could well be the Knicks point guard of the future.
Opposition teams have found it tough to guard Quickley all season with his pure float proving difficult to counter. From the free throw and beyond the arc he has looked equally impressive too, already becoming a pivotal part of a Knicks side that started the season so well.
Knicks fans have every reason to think that Quickley will flourish were previous rookies Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox failed.
MPG: 20.0 , PPG: 12.8 , APG: 2.3 , FT%: .888 , 3P%: .376
James Wiseman: Golden State Warriors
Eyebrows were raised when Golden State drafted a center so early in the draft, but thus far that decision looks to have paid dividends for the Warriors.
Whilst Wiseman hasn’t quite staked a claim for a regular spot in the team he has shown on occasion, flashes of brilliance. He is physically imposing, possessing the size and stature to stand up to the physical demands of the NBA.
What’s more though is his technical ability, which he has demonstrated multiple times this season. He is a good shooter of the ball and definitely has the ability to run the floor.
As the season progresses and his confidence grows, expect to see more than just flashes of brilliance from Wiseman.
MPG: 21.6, PPG: 11.8, TRB: 5.9, BPG: 1.0, 3P%: .333