Rookie of the Year
This season, we have seen a lot of talent come out of the draft. But, there was no unanimous #1 option to take from the draft. That has carried a decent amount into the season so far in just under 10 games. Most of the likely ROY options have not done anything crazy yet. That being said, in no order, check out the predictions for the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Edwards, at the moment, is a pretty safe bet for the ROY award. Anthony Edwards was the number one overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft out of the University of Georgia. He is a solid 6’5″, 225-pound shooting guard that is a pure scorer in a multitude of ways. This season, he has averaged 13.7 points per game (the most of any rookie), 2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. His biggest asset to the ROY award is his 24.2% usage percentage from his 25 minutes per game. He is a big part of the Timberwolves on both sides of the ball. However, he has not picked up any win shares yet, which he will need to do this season as a big player on a small team.
In my opinion, James Wiseman was one of the most valuable players overall in the draft. Even when his time fell short at Memphis, it was easy to tell that Wiseman could be a big factor right away for an NBA team. That is what he has done for the Warriors so far. He has started all seven games that they have played this season and has averaged 21.7 minutes per game with a 23.3% usage percentage on a highly skilled Warriors team. Right now, he is averaging 11.4 points per game/6.1 rebounds per game/1.7 blocks per game on this team. Wiseman also ranks sixth in the NBA in blocks, with 1.7 blocks per game. Wiseman is a versatile big man that can protect the rim and shoot threes on offense (41.7% 3pt).
LaMelo Ball is one of the more notable ROY contenders because of his situation. As the number three pick in the NBA draft, he plays a big role on a small market Charlotte Hornets team. This season, he has averaged 11.6 points per game/4.7 rebounds per game/4.9 assists per game as a flashy and lanky point guard that can run the floor and create plays. This season, he has also recorded 1.9 steals per game, which ranks sixth in the NBA. His efficiency with the ball will need to better, as he is carrying a 16.6% turnover rate and shooting under 40% from the field. However, it is important to give him the benefit of the doubt. He is one of the more notable players on an NBA team at 19 years old, with high expectations.
Isaac Okoro went fifth overall in the 2020 NBA draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Okoro joined a team with a guard-heavy roster with Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Damyean Dotson, and Dante Exum (before he got injured). Okoro suffered a foot injury in the Cavs’ second game against the Detroit Pistons and has missed time since then. We have not seen much of him in the regular season, but we saw a lot of his talent in the preseason games. He averaged 11.3 points per game in the preseason on 54% shooting from the field. He also had two games with 2+ steals in the preseason too. Okoro has not shown his true potential in the regular season yet, but he will once he returns from his injury. He averaged 37.5 minutes per game in his first two games and he is an important player to the Cavs.
Like Okoro, Tyrese Haliburton is in a guard-heavy team with the Sacramento Kings. He competes with Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox for minutes in the backcourt, which is not easy. Haliburton, however, has played a big role on the bench for the Kings, averaging 26.8 minutes per game in the first five games of the season. He has the best field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and player efficiency rating of this rookie group. He has averaged 10.6 points per game/2 rebounds per game/4.4 assists per game so far this season with a 5.5 assist-turnover ratio (14th in the NBA). If the Kings can make a run at the playoffs, after losing Bogdan Bogdanovic, Haliburton could make a run at ROY depending on his value.
All five of these players could make a strong case for receiving the NBA Rookie of the Year Award at the end of the year. However, if I had to choose one of these five players I would choose James Wiseman to win the award. Wiseman has played a large role on both sides of the ball for the Warriors’ experienced, yet short-sided team. If the Warriors can make a run and get into the playoffs, I think James Wiseman has a good shot of taking home the award.