Kia’s NBA Rookie of the year award is expected to be announced soon. The finalists are Charlotte Hornets’ own Lamelo Ball, Minnesota Timberwolves’ #1 overall pick Anthony Edwards, and last but not least, Sacramento Kings’ rookie Tyrese Haliburton. All three can make a case for the award, but this two-man race and has been for several months now.
LaMelo Ball lead all rookies in assists and steals during the regular season, including 2nd overall in scoring – helping the Hornets secure the 10th seed and a NBA play-in game versus the Indiana Pacers. Ball averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists (17th in NBA) and 1.6 steals in just 51 games. Missing 21 games with a wrist injury could sway some voters to lean towards Anthony Edwards, but the overall body of work throughout the entire season along with the Hornets making the play-in game and not finishing 20 plus games under .500 could be the determining factor. Becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple double doesn’t hurt either. Prior to All-Star break the Hornets were a top 4 seed in the eastern conference. It’s worth noting that Patrick Ewing only appeared in 61 percent of the Knicks games during the 1985-86 season, which is still the lowest percentage of games played for a player to win the Rookie of the Year award. Lamelo started coming off the bench with limited playing time and a quick leash from James Borrego, but due to the impact Lamelo had on the court, specifically in transition, starting him was inevitable.
The Hornets won just 23 games during the 2019-20 season. During Ball’s absence, the Hornets went 20-21. Hypothetically, Lamelo Ball is the sole reason for the Hornets’ re-emergence and was arguably the most exciting rookie to watch on a night-in and night out basis.
The number 1 overall pick and electrifying high-flyer, Anthony Edwards finished the season with 19 25-point games, putting him in exclusive company with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant according to ESPN stats & info. Playing the full 72 games goes in his favor – averaging 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Anthony resembles Dwayne Wade and Jazz star Donovan Mitchell with his ability to score in bunches and impact the game offensively. In the last 10 games of the season Edwards averaged 26 points per game, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field, however, the team went 5-5 in those games and finished the season 26 games under .500.
There has been emphasis on his ability to carry his team. In some instances that is true. Edwards has the ability to score and defend. That doesn’t dismiss the fact the the Timberwolves finished 13th in the western conference at 23-49. You can fill the box score up, but if the scoring isn’t transitioning to wins, how impactful are you to your team? He’s a rookie, who also played alongside Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, so there’s veterans available to help mentor the young rookie.