- Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball has become heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year
- Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton is second favorite in the latest odds ahead of James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards
- See updated odds for all top rookies below
The NBA Rookie of the Year race centers around LaMelo Ball. The third overall pick leads the NBA Rookie of the Year odds by a distance only a few weeks into the 2020-21 season. Tyrese Haliburton has impressed with the Kings, but he’s out at +600 as second favorite. First and second overall picks Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman, follow Haliburton, tied at +800.
Starring with the Sixers hit by COVID-19 protocols, Tyrese Maxey is in the mix despite falling to 21st in the draft. Knicks big man Obi Toppin is still in at +1800, though he’s yet to make his NBA debut.
2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds
Odds taken on Jan 12 from FanDuel
LaMelo Shines Off the Bench
There has been clamor for LaMelo Ball to start games for the Charlotte Hornets. Still operating off the bench, LaMelo has shone on the impressive Hornets. In 25 minutes per game, Ball is averaging over 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He’s getting his share of steals, too, and became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double just a few days ago.
Everyone knew LaMelo was a masterful passer. His size meant he was going to get a fair few boards. What has been most surprising, though, is how well he has shot the ball. Draft experts warned of shaky shot selection, which has been evident at times, but LaMelo has shot over 35% from the perimeter and exhibited good feel finishing on drives to the basket.
Whether he gets a starting spot or not, LaMelo’s role with the Hornets is only going to grow. Charlotte is playing good basketball to start the season. LaMelo is at the center of much of that – he’s already helping his team win games. If he continues to put up numbers, and Charlotte continue to win games, it’s hard to see how any beats him to Rookie of the Year.
Haliburton’s Strong Start
It was a surprise to see Tyrese Haliburton fall to the Kings. Some believed he was the fourth-best prospect in this draft behind the consensus top three. Haliburton reportedly wanted to play in Sacramento, and early signs are the Kings got a steal with the 12th overall pick. The former Iowa State guard has already proven to be a key player for Luke Walton’s team.
A funky-looking shot hasn’t stopped Haliburton scoring efficiently. He’s at 15.3 points per 36, shooting 52% from the field and hitting half of his threes. In the opening weeks of his NBA career, Haliburton has already shown he is adept as the ball handler or playing off ball. He’s been comfortable sharing the floor with De’Aaron Fox and exhibited a full passing range on his way to 6.7 assists per 36 minutes.
Haliburton has taken to the NBA as well as anyone with the Kings could have hoped. Sacramento clearly had faith in him when they let Bogdan Bogdanovic walk. His ROY candidacy may depend on how well line-ups alongside Fox, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes fare defensively.
There’s a lot to like about Haliburton’s game. He’s taking almost three shots fewer per game than LaMelo – will he be able to put up big enough numbers to contend for the award?
Anthony Takes Over
With DJ Augustin in Milwaukee and Markelle Fultz out for the season, Cole Anthony is starting at point guard for the Orlando Magic. Anthony’s workload has increased since Fultz’s injury – he averages almost 29 minutes per game over the last four.
The shot totals have unsurprisingly soared, too. The 15th overall pick has reached double figure shot attempts in three of the last four – he had 10 or more attempts in just two of the seven prior games.
Efficiency has been missing thus far. He’s had more field goal attempts (111) than points (104). That isn’t exactly Rookie of the Year stuff, but Anthony is going to get the opportunity to flourish in what is a lost year for the Magic.
A highly regarded high school player, and with the keys to the Magic’s offense, Anthony’s upside this season is huge. It hasn’t been a good start, but his impact on his team could be far greater than Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman or Tyrese Haliburton. He’s worth a small wager at +1800.
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