As we approach the two-month mark of the NBA season, one thing is for certain: the rookie of the year race will be fun to watch. Many NBA freshmen have taken the league by storm already, and have surprised many people. Whether it has been a lottery pick, or a late rounder, the talent in this year’s draft hasn’t disappointed so far.
As the all-star break approaches, it is a good “midway” point in the season. It is only right to break down how the rookies have played so far this year, and who is most likely to take home the NBA rookie of the year award.
Rookie of the Year Contenders:
#5: Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks
With the 25th pick in the NBA draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Immanuel Quickley. Quickley was then traded to the New York Knicks in an exchange of draft picks. Although he was a late pick in the first round, it looks like the Knicks have found a future stud. This season, Quickley has posted 11.8 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game. This puts the Knicks point guard fourth among rookies in both points and assists.
From the jump, Quickley has looked NBA-ready. He has a very effective floater to go along with a developing 3-point shot. As New York could potentially contend for a bottom playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, Quickley’s play will be very important if the team wants to win down the stretch. If he can keep up how he is currently playing, his name will continue to be in the discussion of rookie of the year.
#4: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards, if you don’t already know him, you probably should. He was this year’s No. 1 pick in the NBA draft out of Georgia. Edwards has a great skillset with an unhealthy amount of potential. So far this season, Edwards is averaging 14.3 points, second among all rookies. That is Edwards’s role on the court. He is a pure scorer and has shown just that this season.
However, Edwards lacks a sense of playmaking. Although he is averaging just over two assists, he isn’t the one to facilitate an offense. However, that is not his primary job. He gets paid to score the ball. That is exactly what the Timberwolves drafted him for and he has not disappointed so far. Although the No. 1 pick falls to four on Rookie of the Year contenders, he has a ton of upside in his game that could very well put him in the top three by the end of the season.
#3: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
The second overall pick in the NBA draft, the kid who didn’t even play a full season in college last year has had a great start to his NBA career. James Wiseman is a complete center and has shown that from the start. He is currently averaging 12.2 points (fourth among rookies), 5.9 rebounds (second among rookies), and just under 1 assist per game.
Wiseman’s presence on the offensive and defensive end is something any team would love to see. His versatility separates him from other centers in his draft class. Wiseman will be a future stud one day, and he is showing clear signs of it early in his career. Wiseman had a brief spell but is now returning and looking great. If Wiseman can keep this up, he is definitely going to be a contender for Rookie of the Year.
#2: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
Tyrese Haliburton, the 12th pick in the NBA draft this year has surprised many. Haliburton fell out of the top 10 in this year’s draft, and I’m sure many teams regret that. This season, Haliburton is averaging 13.1 points, which puts him third amongst rookies. The Kings guard is also averaging 5.4 assists, good for second among rookies.
It has been clear all season that the Kings drafted a stud. His scoring and playmaking ability makes Haliburton a very strong offensive threat. Haliburton and his teammate De’Aaron Fox are one of the strongest young duos in the league today. Although the Kings haven’t played very well this year, sitting at 12-19, this young core with Haliburton, Fox, and Marvin Bagley could be very dangerous in the near future. I’m very excited to see if Haliburton can keep up his stellar play, and potentially take home the Rookie of the Year award.
#1: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
LaMelo Ball, where do you start with this kid? Ball has had the spotlight on him since he was in eighth grade. His journey to the NBA wasn’t typical, but it all worked out for the 19-year-old point guard. Although Ball was picked third in the draft, he has shown that he should have been the No. 1 overall pick this year. You can’t go wrong with either of the players drafted in the top three, however, Ball has separated himself from the others thus far.
Ball is averaging 14.8 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 6.0 RPG, which are all first amongst rookies. This is why Ball is the best rookie this year. He can do everything. He is the perfect point guard. It seems like every game he is becoming better. His shot is becoming more consistent, and his playmaking skills are amazing. He is also a great rebounder for a point guard. As this season progresses, Ball is easily the favorite for Rookie of the Year, and honestly, it will be very hard to catch him.
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