Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Team Predictions 2021

By Patrick Hayes   April 25, 2021 

Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Team Predictions 2021

For nearly four months of the season, the Rookie of the Year award seemed like a foregone conclusion. Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball was leading all rookies in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. 

He’d broke into the starting lineup in a deep and talented Charlotte backcourt, shot better than expected at 45 percent overall and 38 percent from three-point range, and he was a major factor why the Hornets exceeded expectations and look like they’ll be a playoff team. Ball is averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals per game and looks like he’ll quickly assert himself as one of the best passers at the point guard position in the league.

But we’re unlikely to see him again this season. Ball broke his wrist in a game on March 20. Ball had surgery and has actually been cleared to start resuming basketball activities. That might be enough to get him back on the court late in the season to help Charlotte’s playoff push or help them once they get into the playoffs. It might not be enough for him to win the Rookie of the Year award, though.

As much as Ball was running away with the award early, No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards has more than closed the gap the last two months, and he’d be right there in the conversation even if Ball wasn’t injured. Edwards has averaged 23 points per game since March 1, and now leads all rookies in scoring at 18 points per game.

Apr 7, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) shoots the ball while Indiana Pacers forward Justin Holiday (8) defends in the third quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

His shot is still a work in progress – he’s hitting just 40 percent of his shots overall and 32 percent from three-point range. But he’s an aggressive scorer who uses his strength exceptionally well to draw contact. He’s one of the best finishers in the league, and he also projects as a phenomenal defensive player down the road. He’s emerged as a cornerstone piece in Minnesota and is thriving in new coach Chris Finch’s offense alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. 

The Timberwolves haven’t had as much team success as Charlotte, which does still hurt Edwards’ chances, but with Ball out, he’s now the leader according to futures odds to win the award.

Ball was favored much of the season, but he and Edwards are still very close.

It’s also worth noting the play of Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton. In many seasons, his production would be good enough to win the award. This year, he’s third in the race and a distant third thanks to the impact of Ball and Edwards.

But that doesn’t mean Haliburton isn’t a good player and potential future star. He came off the bench for the Kings this season behind De’Aaron Fox, but his numbers were great in a limited role. He averages 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists per game while shooting 45 percent overall and 38 percent from three-point range. 

Here’s our projected top three for the award:

  1. Edwards
  2. Ball
  3. Haliburton

Here is our projected All-Rookie First Team: LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, Patrick Williams, Isaiah Stewart

Our second team predictions are: Cole Anthony, Desmond Bane, Saddiq Bey, Xavier Tillman, James Wiseman

There are no real snubs who are left off, although Immanuel Quickley has been a great addition for the Knicks. Quickley’s problem has been out of his hands — his role has fluctuated due to coach Tom Thibodeau’s reluctance to rely on young players. But Quickley has been more efficient than Anthony, while Anthony has been perhaps unfairly to play a bigger role as a starter than he was ready to.

Share this story

Read more