Last season saw a breakaway NBA Rookie of the Year in that of Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant. He dazzled onlookers while No. 1 pick Zion Williamson missed extended time with a knee injury. It was a surprise given preseason NBA Rookie of the Year odds.
Could we see something similar during the 2020-21 NBA season? Most figure that Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball will take home the honors. However, injuries have impacted both him and No. 2 pick James Wiseman. This has a surprising leader in the clubhouse in our most-recent NBA Rookie oft he Year rankings.
NBA Rookie of the Year: The top 10
10. Isaiah Stewart, center, Detroit Pistons
One of several Pistons rookies to perform at a high level this season, Stewart has picked it up even more now that they’ve gone to the youth movement. The Washington product is averaging 11.8 points and 9.5 rebounds on 68% shooting from the field over the past eight games. This enables Stewart to replace the injured James Wiseman in our most-recent NBA Rookie of the Year rankings.
9. Cole Anthony, guard, Orlando Magic (LW: 10)
It’s been somewhat unfortunate for Anthony. The first-round pick from North Carolina expected to play a ton with Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. That has not happened. Fultz suffered a torn ACL early in the season while the latter three were dealt at the NBA trade deadline back on March 25. Even then, Anthony has played pretty darn good basketball as a rookie. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4. 0 assists. The only drawback here? A 39% shooting mark from the field.
8. Patrick Williams, forward, Chicago Bulls (LW: 8)
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for this stud young forward recently. Despite showing some flashes, he has not provided it on a nightly basis. The Florida State product is averaging a mere 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds over the past six games. The biggest issue? A lack of aggressiveness on offense. He’s attempting less than five shots in 27 minutes of action. That’s troubling given Williams was more aggressive earlier in the season.
NBA Rookie of the Year: The long shots
7. Immanuel Quickley, guard, New York Knicks (LW: 5)
After jumping on to the scene following his entrance into the Knicks’ rotation back in January, Quickley has seen his game take a major hit. He’s scored six points or less in seven of his past 10 games. The former Kentucky star is also averaging just 4.5 points on 27% shooting over the past four games. With his Knicks in the midst of a five-game winning streak and looking like a legitimate playoff team, the expectation here is that Quickley will see a decrease in minutes. That’s not great from an individual perspective.