We’ve hit the halfway point of an NBA season like no other. The West and East conferences are starting to take shape and potential winners for Rookie of the Year are being touted. The like’s of LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards were early selections in the draft and have shown their potential so far. In this column I’m going to discuss the potential candidates and a few longshots who may have a chance.
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
The youngest Ball brother has had an explosive start to his NBA career. He was picked third in the draft by the North Carolina outfit Charlotte Hornets who are owned by Michael Jordan. The point-guard currently leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists, steals, loose balls recovered and deflections. He’s also added two Eastern Rookie of the Month awards to his impressive season and currently averages 15.8 points per game, six rebounds and 6.3 assists. Ball is current favourite with the bookies to scoop up the award. In February he hit a career high 34 points.
Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
A bit of a surprise package so far this year, he was drafted 12th overall by The Kings. Although the point guard from Iowa State has won two Western Rookie of the Month awards The Kings poor record (14-22) may be his eventual downfall in winning Rookie of the Year. He’s averaging 13.2 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists. Haliburton scored a career high 23 points three times in February. These consistent numbers have put him on the fast track to being a contender, but he will need keep up his minutes and scoring if he’s to push Ball out of pole position.
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Another player whose team record could let him down, Minnesota Timberwolves are currently 7-29 with no win in their last nine games. Edwards is second in total points this season and was the first pick in the draft. His inconsistency has let him down so far this season, he’s shooting 30.8% field goals and 26.4% in recent weeks. His stats overall this season show a lot of promise though, with Edwards averaging 14.9 points per game, 4 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks
The 25th pick in the draft has been a key element in the Knicks playoff push so far, which has shocked many NBA fans this season. The 21-year-old point guard from Kentucky State has made his way up the Rookie ladder with his stats getting better and better, he’s currently averaging 12.2 points per game, 2.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists. With Knicks fans in an exuberant mood and the likes of Derrick Rose leading the charge, Quickly could find himself challenging Ball come the end of the season, his one hold back is currently his minutes, he ranks just 17th amongst the Rookies.
James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
As the dynasty of the Golden State Warriors ends a new one may be on the horizon and Rookie Wiseman will be a great player to build that on. He currently ranks 5th in points per game with 11.8, he also has 5.7 rebounds and averages 0.7 assists. The Warriors have had and up and down season just like Wiseman who at times has struggled for consistency, the Warriors currently sit on 19-18. Wiseman could be in with a chance but it maybe a longshot with an up and down season and just 514 minutes so far.
Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons
Bey has got more and more consistent as weeks have gone by, scoring over 10 points since February 6th. Since then Bey has also averaged 14.4 points per game, 5.5 rebounds with 29.6 minutes, starting eight of those games. The Pistons have had a pretty poor season with Blake Griffin going to the Brooklyn Nets in recent days not helping their cause. The Pistons currently sit on 10-26. Bey should be considered a serious candidate with the points and minutes he’s currently putting up.
Peyton Pritchard, Boston Celtics
A longshot for the award but he will be up there come end of the season. He’s slowly been getting more and more minutes but only has one start to his name. Pritchard’s stats aren’t explosive, but his three-point percentage is only worse than one player on the list, Haliburton (40.2%, Pritchard). He’s currently averaging 7.7 points per game, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. More minutes will move Pritchard up the Rookie ladder but its not easy to move Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker out the way.
With the All-Star break almost over and the impending resumption of the 2020/21 season it will be interesting to see how these young talents will fair when it comes to playoff runs and putting themselves centre stage to take pole position for the esteemed NBA Rookie of the Year award.