Anthony Edwards now odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year following injury to LaMelo Ball
LaMelo Ball may have seen his rookie season end on Saturday night, when he injured his wrist after a hard landing on a drive to the basket. The Charlotte Hornets guard underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Sunday that led to the discovery of a fractured bone in his right wrist.
The team announced on Sunday night that he is likely done for the season.
Ball was averaging an impressive 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game at the time of his injury. He won Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in both January and February, and made history by becoming the only player in the past 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists, and steals at the All-Star break.
Before the injury, Ball was a heavy favorite at -177 to win the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year award. He has now dropped to +225, and is the second choice behind Minnesota Timberwolves No. 1 pick, Anthony Edwards.
NBA Rookie of the Year 2020/2021
Mon, July 19 2021, 6:00 AM
All aboard the Edwards hype train
Edwards struggled through a couple of rough patches to begin his NBA career, but has been on fire the past month. Since Feb. 24, the Georgia product has averaged 24.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. This, combined with the injury to Ball, has made him the odds-on favorite to take home NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
Edwards' personal emergence has also led to more team success. The Timberwolves were the worst team in the league, but have now won three of their past six games and have been competitive against playoff-caliber teams.
Team wins do not typically matter when you think of NBA Rookie of the Year award, but if you look at advanced metrics, Anthony Edwards currently would have the lowest Win Share of any player to ever win the award. His current Win Share is -0.8, and the previous low by a Rookie of the Year award winner in the modern era was 0.4 by Darrell Griffith in 1981.
Is Ball still in the race?
LaMelo Ball is still the second choice on the odds board, but if he doesn’t play again this season, did he play enough to win the award?
Ball will have played in 41 of the 72 scheduled games, if he is indeed out for the season. That is nearly 57% of the schedule. The only player in the history of the league to play in less than 70% of the team’s scheduled games and still win the award was Patrick Ewing in 1986. The Knicks big man played in 60% of the team’s games that season.
History is not on Ball’s side. Last year Zion Williamson missed out on the award even though he averaged 22.5 points per game in 24 appearances. In 2017, Joel Embiid was also clearly the league's best rookie, but didn't win the award since he was limited to 31 games.
Who will win the Rookie of the Year award in the NBA this season?
Haliburton and Quickley have been revelations
There are two names that have not been mentioned that are still alive in this race: Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings and Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks. Haliburton had a red-hot February before being sidelined with a calf injury. He has struggled to regain his form in six games since returning, and it is hurting his odds.
Quickley is also in the mix as the biggest surprise of the 2020 NBA Draft. The rookie from Kentucky has become a fan-favorite in New York, but does not always see the playing time to help his odds here. However, he does average 17.4 points per game in games where he sees at least 20 minutes on the floor. If he can finish the season strong, he is very much still in the race.