With the regular season coming to an end this weekend, here are the final rookie rankings from the Shadow League.
They’ll be much debate as to who should win the NBA Rookie of the Year. It’s clearly a showdown between Charlotte Hornets stud “FROSH” LaMelo Bell and the confident Minnesota Timberwolves “ROOK” Anthony Edwards.
Here’s our take:
1. LaMelo Ball takes the top spot, which he’s pretty much done the entire season when he wasn’t injured. He did miss 21 games with a broken wrist, but that still isn’t enough to take the award away from him.
He’s greatly affected winning, as his Hornets are in the play-in tourney with a legitimate chance to get into the playoffs.
His multi-faceted stat line reads 16/6/6 this season and when you watch him, the tape doesn’t lie. He looks the part from his elite passing to his “Big Baller Brand” swag, to his court vision and very underrated rebounding.
2. Anthony Edwards has made a late-season push while Ball was injured. His numbers and shot attempts increased as Minnesota fell out of contention, but his play hasn’t affected winning much yet.
As far as entertainment value goes, he’s as good as it gets. He posterizes cats like it’s the 90s.
“AntMan” as he’s called by teammates, has shown that elite athleticism and talent that made him the top overall pick in the 2020 draft. His teammate Karl-Anthony Towns has been touting him as “ROY,” but I don’t think he’s done enough to overtake the youngest Ball brother.
Edwards does have 33 games this season where he’s scored at least 20 points, tying a franchise record set by Christian Laettner some 29 years ago. For the season he averaged (19/5/3).
3. Houston Rockets rookie “Swiss Army Knife” Jae’Sean Tate leads the Rockets in minutes this season. He also ranks second in total rebounds and assists, and third in points on the squad after John Wall and Christian Wood.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t drafted and played all over the world before getting his shot in “HTown” this season. He’s definitely a piece the franchise can use going forward. He finished the season averaging (11/5/3).
4. Tyrese Haliburton was picked 12th overall, but his game and rookie season say that’s a little low for the former Iowa State Cyclone. The cerebral combo guard plays beyond his years and really was a nice chess piece alongside franchise player DeAaron Fox.
Never forget Gilbert Arenas, drafted by the Warriors at No. 31, kept a “hit list” of the teams that passed on him in 2001. Now Haliburton is seeing the motivation in the 11 teams that let him slide to Sacramento.
“Rese” as he’s called by teammates, mentioned how his career is gonna be one that proves folks wrong. His season ended early due to a hyperextended knee, but not before he produced some court damage, averaging (13/5/3).
5. I’ve seen Pistons rookie Saddiq Bey play many times from his days in the DMV as an underrated and a bit under-appreciated high school star.
The rookie sharpshooter leads all newcomers with (169 three-pointers). Although his three-point accuracy sagged a bit in March and April, it jumped back up in May to the tune of 44.8%.
That’s one facet of Bey’s game that has the “Motor City” guys elated about what they’ve seen this season. But they also believe he’s obsessed with becoming great and his coachability is an asset. He’s all business and doesn’t even entertain social media. As a 22-year-old in today’s society that’s just unheard of.
He finishes his season with averages of (12/5/2).
Honorable Mention Five:
Isaiah Stewart – (Pistons) His defense and shot-blocking make him another piece for newly extended Head Coach Dwayne Casey for years to come.
Immanuel Quickley – (Knicks) After a solid season shooting the ball from the floor, for the most part, Quickley has struggled shooting the ball the last six weeks. But he continues to battle and show a toughness that embodies all Tom Thibodeau-coached teams. A solid backup point guard in “The Big Apple.”
Desmond Bane – (Grizzlies) We cannot overstate what his range shooting has brought to the very young upstart “Grit and Grind” boys. He’s a marksman and seems to have carved out a niche on Beale Street.
Cole Anthony – (Magic) Still a streaky shooter from the floor, but he has a NY spice and believes he’s the best player on the floor. He’s the future lead guard in the “Magic Kingdom.”
Isaac Okoro – (Cavaliers) The Uber athletic rookie recorded his first double-double of the season last week. He also continues to show that toughness and grit on the defensive end that made him a top 5 pick. The future is bright for this “Three and D” wing on the Shores of Lake Erie.