NBA Award Watch: 2021 Rookie of the Year

The 2020-21 NBA season is roughly a third of the way through as we enter February. At this point in the season, there have been quite a few rookies that have performed at a level above their peers.

Last season, Ja Morant won the NBA Rookie of the Award for his stellar rookie season. While him and the 2019 rookie class had a ton of talent, this new class in 2020 has made a huge impact on their respective teams this season. With a unique mix of guards, wings and bigs coming out of the 2020 NBA Draft, it’s a wide open race to this point.

A third of the way through the 2020-21 season, we broke down our top five Rookie of the Year candidates.

LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)

No. 3 Pick – 14.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.5 SPG

Ball has come off the bench for the majority of the season, but has been a quality producer when he gets his opportunities. Showing flashes of being a consistent triple-double type player, Ball is an above average rebounder for a guard and also an excellent passer. 

As soon as he became a starter on the team, his numbers only got better, making him look like perhaps the best player in his class. With his length defensively, Ball also leads the Hornets in steals per game. 

Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves)

No. 1 Pick – 14.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.7 SPG, .316 3P%

Spending most of his time coming off the bench as a spark plug scorer this season, Edwards has shown just how high his offensive ceiling is. While his shooting splits haven’t been great, some of the moves he’s shown off have been impressive. 

If he continues to get more time, there’s no reason he couldn’t score the most points of any rookie this season. As he adjusts to the professional pace of play, his efficiency should rise. 

Tyrese Haliburton (Sacramento Kings)

No. 12 Pick – 12.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.6 RPG, .452 3P%

While on draft night it looked like the Kings may have gotten a steal in Haliburton at No. 12, he’s proven that point with his high level of production. While he doesn’t have the most exciting style of play, he gets the job done in every possible way. 

When it comes to filling up the stat sheet, Haliburton is by far the best rookie. He’s shown an ability to do it all on offense as well as defense and plays well beyond his years from an IQ standpoint. 

Immanuel Quickley (New York Knicks)

No. 25 Pick – 12.4 PPG, 2.6 APG, .942 FT%, .370 3P%

The Knicks got an absolute steal in Quickley late in the first round and might have gotten their point guard of the future. With one of the most pure floaters in the entire NBA, he’s been tough to guard all season. 

Quickley has also been extremely efficient from both the free throw line and from beyond the arc. He’s been a key part of New York’s solid start to the 2020-21 season. 

James Wiseman (Golden State Warriors)

No. 2 Pick – 12.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG, .409 3P%

Many were skeptical of drafting a center so early in the draft with the modern NBA play style, but the Warriors should be happy with their selection in Wiseman. Although he was recently benched, he’s shown flashes of being great in this league down the road. 

While he has the size to dominate in the paint and pull down rebounds, Wiseman has also shown his shooting touch and ability to run the floor. As the season goes on, expect Wiseman to continue to improve and end up being among the best in this rookie class.