Hornets' Ball beats Edwards, Haliburton for Rookie of the Year
Despite missing over a month of games late in the year, Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball was voted the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year, edging out the Minnesota Timberwolves' Anthony Edwards and Sacramento Kings' Tyrese Haliburton, the league announced Wednesday.
Ball, the No. 3 pick in last year's draft, is the third player in franchise history to capture the award; Emeka Okafor won as a member of the then-Charlotte Bobcats in 2004-05 while Larry Johnson won with the original iteration of the Hornets in 1991-92.
In 51 appearances, the American-born product led all rookies in assists (6.1) and steals (1.6) per game while ranking second in points (15.7) and rebounds (5.9).
Partly thanks to Ball's addition to the lineup, the Hornets' win percentage improved from .354 in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season to .458 this year. The team was just one game under .500 when a wrist injury knocked Ball out of the lineup from March 20 to May 1.
His challengers for top rookie honors played to a high standard as well. Appearing in 72 games, Edwards led all rookies with 19.3 points per game - albeit often on inefficient shooting splits - and frequently set social media ablaze with his rim-rocking dunks.
Haliburton, already returning immense value against his status as just the No. 12 pick, averaged 13 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 40.9% on threes, cementing his place as part of the Kings' core.