NBA

2020-21 NBA Rookie Ladder: Is Anthony Edwards challenging LaMelo Ball for the top spot?

Welcome back to our 2020-21 NBA Rookie Ladder!

As a follow up to my 2020 NBA Draft coverage, I will be providing an in-depth look at how this year's rookie class has performed to start their NBA career by ranking the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year every other Friday.

During the last bi-weekly period, I took a break from the Rookie Ladder to instead dive into pre-draft predicitons and decipher where I was right and wrong on this rookie class so far. You can find that article here.

If you'd like to compare this week's 2020-21 NBA Rookie Ladder to previous ones, here you can find the first, second, third and fourth editions.

Below you'll find the top five rankings so far this season, a group of rookies who are on the outside looking in, a rookie leaderboard to see which first-year players are leading the major statistical categories and an injury report to keep you updated on the latest ailments of the rookie class.

So without further ado... who has been the best rookie through the midway point of the 2020-21 season?

2020-21 NBA Rookie Ladder

5. James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

Stats: 11.8 PTS, 6.0 REB, 1.0 BLK, 52.6% FG, 36.7% 3PT

Best game: Jan. 27 vs. MIN: 25 points (9-14 FG, 3-3 3PT), 6 rebounds, 2 blocks

Something to know: After missing 11 games with a sprained wrist, the rookie centre struggled a bit upon his return, averaging 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and only 0.3 blocks per game. It has been tough to get into any sort of a rhythm, as the No. 2 overall pick is now reportedly expected to miss roughly one week in the league's health and safety protocols.

4. Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

Stats: 10.5 PTS, 4.1 REB, 1.1 AST, 41.2% FG, 39.9% 3PT

Best game: Feb. 12 vs. BOS: 30 points (10-12 FG, 7-7 3PT), 12 rebounds

Something to know: While his perfect 3-point shooting night against the Celtics still highlights Bey's best performance as a rookie, he was fantastic in the Pistons' most recent win over the Raptors, scoring a team-high 28 points on six 3-pointers to go with a career-high-tying 12 rebounds.

Since becoming a full-time starter, Bey is averaging 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from 3. His 85 total 3s leads all rookies.

3. Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Stats: 12.7 PTS, 5.1 AST, 3.5 REB, 1.3 STL, 47.8% FG, 42.5% 3PT

Best game: Feb. 6 vs. DEN: 23 points (8-12 FG, 4-7 3PT), 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block

Something to know: A calf injury just before the All-Star break derailed what may have been Haliburton's best stretch of the season. In the four games prior to the injury, the rookie guard averaged 19.8 points, 6.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game, taking on a bigger role within the Kings' offence as a scorer and playmaker.

It took a couple games to shake off the rust of a four-game absence followed by the break, but with Marvin Bagley expected to miss time with a fractured hand, Haliburton has filled his spot in the starting lineup. As Harrison Barnes has become a hot commodity in trade rumours, it may turn out to be a permanent move as Sacramento begins to shape out its backcourt of the future with Haliburton and De'Aaron Fox.

2. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

Stats: 16.8 PTS, 4.2 REB, 2.5 AST, 1.0 STL

Best game: March 19 vs. PHX: 42 points (15-31 FG, 4 3PM), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

Something to know: Edwards was already starting to hit his groove as a full-time starter for the Timberwolves and his most recent explosion against the Suns is further proof of that. The No. 1 overall pick erupted for 42 points, the youngest player in franchise history to reach the 40-point mark.

The impressive achievement doesn't stop there, either. At 19 years and 225 days old, Edwards became the third-youngest player in NBA history to score 40 points in a game, joining an elite list of names.

Edwards is on a tear as of late, averaging 22.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals over the last nine games while shooting a much-improved 43.1 percent from the field.

1. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

Stats: 16.0 PTS, 6.2 AST, 5.9 REB, 1.6 STL, 45.3% FG, 37.7% 3PT

Best game: Jan. 30 vs. MIL: 27 points (8-10 FG, 2-3 3PT, 9-9 FT), 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 turnover

Something to know: Ball entered the All-Star break leading all rookies in total points, rebounds and assists. According to ESPN Stats & Info., he became the sixth player in NBA history to achieve that feat, joining Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Alvan Adams.

Why is that significant, other than it being extremely impressive? All five of those player went on to win Rookie of the Year and become Hall of Famers. Great company to be a part of for the Hornets' young superstar.

Outside looking in

Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks: Averaging 15.9 points over his last 10 games, Quickley has become the starting point guard for a Knicks team that holds a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference - an impressive achievement for the No. 25 overall pick in this past draft. His 12.8 points per game over the whole season ranks third among rookies, trailing only Edwards and Ball.

Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls: Williams continues to hold down a starting spot for a Bulls team that is just outside the East playoff picture. His career-high 23 points to go with six boards and four assists in a win over the Toronto Raptors just after the All-Star break marks his best NBA performance this far.

Jae'Sean Tate, Houston Rockets: Tate enters the Rookie Ladder for the first time this season following his career-best outing of 25 points, six rebounds, six assists, one block and one steal against the Atlanta Hawks. He has been a reliable and versatile defender for the Rockets all year and his 1.1 steals per game ranks third among all rookies, trailing only Ball and Haliburton.

2020-21 NBA Rookie Leaderboard

Category Player Team Stats
Points per game leader Anthony Edwards Timberwolves 16.8 PPG
Rebounds per game leader James Wiseman Warriors 6.0 RPG
Assists per game leader LaMelo Ball Hornets 6.2 APG
Steals per game leader LaMelo Ball Hornets 1.6 SPG
Blocks per game leader Four tied - 1.0 BPG

2020-21 NBA Rookie injury report

Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons: Hayes has been out since Jan. 6 with a labral tear in his hip, but the No. 7 overall pick has recently been cleared for on-court basketball activities.

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic: Anthony has been out since Feb. 9 with a non-displaced rib fracture and although he recently began doing some light shooting at practice, head coach Steve Clifford doesn't believe he's close to being back.

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