NBA Rookie of the Year race coming down to the wire


Ann Re, Martina Pedron, and Cesare Cornoldi (2007)/ Getty Images

2020 second overall pick Lamelo Ball dribbles ball up the court during game.

Carson Woods, Staff Writer

   The second half of the NBA season is just getting underway and the Rookie of the Year race looks like it’s gonna come down to the wire. Heading into the All-Star break at the midpoint of the season, Lamelo Ball looked like he was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Ball was the first rookie in the last 60 years to lead all first year players in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. However, in the last couple games before All-Star break, Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton showed that we shouldn’t count them out just yet.

   Ball is a 6’6 point guard with immense talent who was picked third by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2020 NBA draft. Starting the season coming off the bench, Ball was quick to show everyone how dangerous of a threat he could be both offensively and defensively. When Ball entered the game it was easy to see how comfortable he already looked playing at the NBA level. Ball was able to operate the offense smoothly at a level that not many veteran guards can even reach in their careers. It wasn’t long before Ball was put into the starting lineup. Since entering the starting lineup, Ball’s game has elevated to a whole new level. Since becoming a starter, Ball is averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists on 46 percent shooting. These are All-Star level numbers that have impressed many NBA stars and even Michael Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

   “I think Melo has adjusted to the NBA game better than any of us ever thought this early in his career, he has exceeded our expectations so far this season,” Said Jordan in an interview with the associated press.  

   Edwards, the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft has shown some glimpses of superstar potential. Edwards, drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, is an explosive shooting guard who can raise the roof with highlight dunks. Edwards was quick to turn heads with his dynamic scoring ability and elite level athleticism. After starting the season coming off the bench, it wasn’t long before Edwards was inserted into the starting lineup. Now starting for the timberwolves alongside All-Star Karl Anthony Towns Edwards, he has excelled in his position. As a starter, Edwards has contributed solid numbers averaging 18.5 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Edwards has the potential to become one of the top scorers in the NBA, but he needs to improve his shooting percentage. Edwards is only shooting 53 percent in the paint on his drives to the basket. In the second half of the season watch for Edwards to develop his entire game and strengthen other aspects like defense and passing.

   Haliburton was drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft and has slowly creeped up on the leaders for Rookie of the Year. Unlike Ball and Edwards, Haliburton hasn’t been able to crack the starting lineup. Haliburton has been playing limited minutes behind rising star De’Aaron Fox and former three point champion Buddy Hield. Although Haliburton hasn’t been playing the same minutes as Ball and Edwards, he has still been able to put up impressive numbers. Coming off the bench, Haliburton is averaging 12.5 points per game, 5.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. The most impressive part about Haliburton’s game, though, is that some of his numbers are among the best at his position in the league. As a 6’5 point guard, Haliburton ranks in the 90th percentile for both steals and effective field goal percentage. Haliburtons 3:4 assist to turnover ratio also is one of the highest in the NBA. If Halliburton is able to break into the starting lineup in the second half of the season, it could be a scary sight for the rest of the league.

   Although Ball, Edwards and Haliburton all have a grip on the Rookie of the Year trophy, there is still time for other first year players to make their case. Rookies like James Wisemen, Immanuel Quickley and Saddiq Bey haven’t played at the top level yet, but they all have plenty of games to step it up and make a run for the award. With the second half of the season just getting underway, it’ll be exciting to watch the leading candidates and the underdogs looking for their break.