In one of the most challenging seasons ever for rookies, the 2020-21 NBA season has been compelling viewing. The lack of summer league and a minimal pre-season means that, for the most part, NBA rookies have had to sink or swim.
Some names were expected to do better, while others have stunk the place out given their pre-season ranking. Who, then, might be the three most likely winners of the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year award?
Which new arrivals have made the biggest impression this season? Let’s take a look at the betting odds for a few potential NBA Rookie of the Year candidates:
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets (-300)
Despite sitting out much of the last month or so with a wrist injury, LaMelo Ball has lived up to the hype and then some. The young playmaker has come into the NBA and done away with any concerns about a weird shot mechanism. Instead, he has played an aggressive brand of basketball, never giving his opponents a moment to breathe.
Add in a wild court vision and incredible passing range, and Ball is already among the dressing room leaders in Charlotte. Without his injury, he would be a 100% lock to win NBA Rookie of the Year. An incredibly talented boy, Ball looks likely to live up to the massive hype and reputation that exists around him. And best of all? The ‘celebrity star’ tag that he was unfairly hit with looks to have been nothing more than a media myth.
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (+200)
Being the No. 1 pick in any NBA draft is a huge challenge and one that can be tough to live up to. However, Edwards, despite some concerning plays, has become a pretty impressive player for the flailing Timberwolves.
His game has already notably changed and grown since he first came into the league. Although some rookie year issues have held back Edwards from really playing to his potential, more is to come. With a proper summer league and a pre-season, Edwards should really shine in his second NBA season.
For now, though, he’s done enough to at least be in the conversation for NBA Rookie of the Year. This year might not have been his best, but Edwards has shown justification in those who believed he could be a career NBA star.
Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings (+700)
Although the Kings have endured a shrug of a season overall, you would need to be pretty brave to write off Tyrese Haliburton. He is the saving grace of a Kings season and is the cornerstone of that franchise for a few years to come. An intelligent playmaker with a confident shot and one of the most interesting layup styles for a rookie, Haliburton has destroyed any concerns about flaws in his game.
In fact, if you were to compare expectation versus performance, Tyrese really should be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. His incredible consistency and court maturity have left most fans wondering just what the ceiling is. Given he was a projected Top-10 pick, the Kings have done well to land Haliburton when they did.