The worst happened on Sunday night when the Charlotte Hornets announced that Rookie of the Year favorite LaMelo Ball was diagnosed with a fractured wrist and ruled out indefinitely. While the Hornets haven’t provided a timeline, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Ball is unlikely to return this season. It sucks.
Over the past two months, Ball had entered the starting lineup for the Hornets and really took off, jumping up to -715 to win ROTY before the news broke. Ball had become a walking highlight reel while making the Hornets a playoff contender. Now, Ball has dropped to +225 and it appears he’ll have a tough time winning Rookie of the Year unless he can get back on the court before the regular season is over.
The new favorite to win ROTY is Minnesota Timberwolves G Anthony Edwards. At the beginning of the season, Edwards was coming off the bench (similar to Ball). Due to injuries, Edwards got a chance to shine in the starting lineup and has shown steady improvement on offense. In January he was averaging around 13 points per game. In February that number jumped to 16 points. In March? He’s up to 26 points per game in 35.6 minutes over seven games.
The stats and the dunks and everything look good on paper for Edwards, who gets a lot of the benefit of being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. If we go a bit deeper, Edwards may not have as strong a case as some other rookies. For one, he’s starting because of the injury to D’Angelo Russell primarily. He’s starting on a very bad Timberwolves team that will likely land in the top 3 in the lottery again. Minny is 3-4 in March, so there’s been a little improvement, not by much.
The other thing is Edwards shooting splits and efficiency. Edwards is attempting 22.6 field goals per game in March. He’s shooting 43 percent, 34 percent from beyond the arc and around 70 percent from the stripe the past seven games. In that span, his net rating is -8.7 with a true shooting percentage of 52.8 percent and a usage rate at 32.6 percent. Essentially, Edwards is benefitting from getting a ton of usage and shot attempts.
The issue is Edwards will probably keep scoring and keep dunking and the media and awards voters will get sort of into a drunk stupor off of it. Behind all of this lies a player who looks more like a 2K All-Star than an efficient NBA scorer. This doesn’t make Edwards a bad bet to win. The line is the issue. Edwards is -182 on DraftKings Sportsbook to win ROTY. The race should be tighter than the odds suggest and we could see shifts in the next few weeks. Remember, if Ball doesn’t return, there’s a lot of season left to be played.
With a lot of games left, this gives Sacramento Kings G Tyrese Haliburton and New York Knicks G Immanuel Quickley a chance to get into the ROTY convo. They already were, really. Quickley finally got into the starting lineup for the Knicks. If he can shake off his current injury and return, there’s a chance he starts to flourish with more opportunity. Haliburton would need something similar to happen given the Kings are awful now. You can’t even fully count out guys like Saddiq Bey on the Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors C James Wiseman.
If you wanted to get some value, there’s some in Haliburton and Quickley to overtake Edwards. It doesn’t feel likely to happen, but again, there’s a lot of basketball left this season. Quickley has the benefit of being on a good team. Bey, Hali and Edwards are getting borderline meaningless minutes. Wiseman just needs to get the opportunity. We’ve seen him play well in short spurts but he also has missed time due to injuries and Covid-19 protocols. Plus, coach Steve Kerr hasn’t favored the rookie due to some disciplinary issues. All I’m saying is, keep an open mind for now.
NBA Rookie of the Year Odds Update
Anthony Edwards -182
LaMelo Ball +225
Tyrese Haliburton +475
Immanuel Quickley +1000
Saddiq Bey +8000
James Wiseman +8000
Desmond Bane +15000
Tyrese Maxey +15000
Aleksej Pokusevski +15000
Payton Pritchard +15000
Patrick Williams +15000
Jae’Sean Tate +15000
Kira Lewis Jr. +30000
Isaac Okoro +30000
Theo Maledon +30000
Kenyon Martin Jr. +30000
Facundo Campazzo +30000
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