As the 2020-21 NBA season nears its midpoint, we’re rating the top performers so far.
Rookie of the Year
Kurt Helin: LaMelo Ball (Hornets)
When Michael Jordan says you are exceeding expectations, you know things are going well. LaMelo Ball entered the 2020 NBA Draft as the guy with the highest ceiling but questions about his defense and, more concerning, his commitment to the game. So far he has proved doubters wrong. He is averaging 15.8 points, 6 rebounds, and 6.3 assists a game, his playmaking is not just flash but genuine, and while his shot isn’t pretty 38.7% of his threes go in. Ball is impacting winning in Charlotte, something rarely seen from a rookie. On top of all that, Ball has the “it” factor — you can’t stop watching him.
Tyrese Halliburton in Sacramento is a clear second right now, with Immanuel Quickley of the Knicks and Anthony Edwards in Minnesota possibly finding their way on to the bottom of the ballot.
Dan Feldman: LaMelo Ball (Hornets)
Ball leads rookies in points (15.8), assists (6.3) rebounds (6.0) and steals (1.6) per game. He is the obvious – and correct – choice.
But Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton isn’t that far behind. Haliburton is shooting more efficiently and is also a basketball savant who makes awesome passes.
However, Ball has way more creation responsibility in Charlotte and his handling it well. That gives him the distinct edge.
In all likelihood, Ball and Haliburton will finish 1-2 on the end-of-year ballot. Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley and anyone else are vying for third.