Though the 2020 draft class was expected to underwhelm, we have seen several candidates burst onto the scene in contention for NBA Rookie of the Year among our Power Rankings. After a month of action, franchises with the top picks are beginning to see the fruits of their selections.
The Golden State Warriors, for example, have greatly benefitted from having an out-and-out center back in the starting line-up, while the Charlotte Hornets bet on LaMelo Ball's promise appears to be paying off. In this article, we will compile the current top 5 prospects for NBA Rookie of the Year.
NBA Rookie of the Year 2021: Top 5 prospects for prestigious award
#1 LaMelo Ball
Averaging 25 minutes from the bench this season, LaMelo Ball has found a way to impact the Charlotte Hornets on both ends of the floor and leads the pack for NBA Rookie of the Year. Ball was brought to Charlotte as third pick in the draft and has not disappointed.
Through 14 appearances, the point guard is averaging 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists. His all-round game has brought the Hornets some much needed threat from the bench and has helped them to an early 6-8 record.
Against the Atlanta Hawks, Ball's ability was as obvious as the expectation placed on his shoulders prior to the season. In a Hornets win, LaMelo became the NBA's youngest ever player to record a triple double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists and is part of the reason he is strongly tipped to win NBA Rookie of the Year. With the experience of franchise stars Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward, Ball has every opportunity to succeed in Charlotte.
#2 Tyrese Haliburton
Falling to 12th in the draft, Tyrese Haliburton was considered a steal for the Sacramento Kings and is showing why other sides were foolish to pass up on his ability. Out of college, Haliburton had one of the best stat-lines of his draft class and has continued this coming off the bench for the Kings.
Haliburton has one of the most staggering stats for an NBA rookie. Shooting an effective field goal percentage of 63.7 puts him 9th overall in the league out of any player who has taken over 100 shots. Sliding right into the Kings' rhythm, Haliburton has averaged 11.1 points and 5.1 assists along with 1.2 steals.
Keeping him out of the No. 1 spot in our NBA Rookie of the Year rankings is the fact that the Kings have started with a measly 5-10 record, though this has less to do with the rookie than the Sacramento team in general. Haliburton has kept pace in NBA Rookie of the Year conversations and is well placed to take the trophy, especially if his efficiency from the field continues.