Rookie sensation and pill-passing magician LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets) and Sacramento King’s lone bright spot, rookie Tyrese Haliburton have been named the NBA’s best rookies for the first month of the 2021 COVID season.
The teams who passed on Haliburton are kicking themselves right now. The Western Conference’s Haliburton, 20, was the No. 12 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Iowa State. He is averaging 10.7 points, 5.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 46.5% from the field and 40.9% from 3-point range.
READ MORE: TSL’s NBA 2021 Rookie Meter
Haliburton continues to impress, with his cerebral play and basketball IQ. His ability to play on or off the ball is a huge sticking point for the Kings as he allows Luke Walton to play DeAaron Fox and Buddy Hield with him in a game-closing, three-headed lineup.
Melo has been catching wreck from the door and he’s clearly the best rookie in the East. The former question mark is averaging 12.2 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He is shooting 42.3% from the field and 30.8% from beyond the arc.
He passed Markelle Fultz as the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double when he dropped 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists on Atlanta on Jan. 9. He’s also starting now.
Warriors big man James Wiseman takes the top spot with his stellar play even in a reserve role off the bench. Again you can not overstate the blessing it is for a young big to have someone like Draymond Green there to help guide him daily. Has some really good games the last week.
READ MORE: The Shadow League’s 2021 NBA Rookie Meter 2
Second I have the top overall pick Anthony Edwards, who’s been playing very well despite the Timberwolves just being bad. He’s shown the elite athleticism that folks raved about, and now he’s even shooting the ball much better from the perimeter. He and Malik Beasley give the TWolves two very good to great upcoming wings for the future.
Next is the newcomer from the Big Apple named Immanuel Quickley. He’s become the darling of the rookie class this season, and for good reason. His floater has already been heralded as the deadliest in the game and he’s one of the best and pick-and-roll scorers in the league.
This past week he became just the second rookie to score 30 points in a game (former Kentucky teammate Tyrese Maxey is the other). Even more impressive is he did off the bench. He’s making a push to be a starter in Tom Thibodeau’s backcourt.
Cole Anthony continues to play well in Orlando. After shooting a paltry 17% from three early in the season, he’s improved his shooting from deep to 48% over the last nine games. A huge reason for the shooting revival is the freedom he’s been given to create for himself.
For instance, when he shoots from three on (0-2 dribbles) he’s a 31% shooter and when he’s able to take (3-7 dribbles) that increases greatly to 44%. He’s now a starter and should remain as such in the Magic Kingdom.
Cavaliers guard Isaac Okoro has been a defensive stalwart as a rookie. But his offense is becoming increasingly better nightly. His greatest asset on offense is the ability to get to the rim and finish at a decent rate of (56.3%). And given more opportunities coupled with his elite athleticism, this should only increase. If he ever develops into a 35-37% shooter from deep he’ll become a nightmare to defend.
READ MORE: The Shadow League’s NBA Rookie Meter 3
Spurs guard Devin Vassell (No. 11 overall) has been good on both ends this season. He’s new to the list, showing an ability to knock down triples at a high clip while also being a disruptive force on defense.
Even more impressive and why Coach Pop likes him on the floor with DeMar DeRozan and DeJounte Murray, is Vassell’s knack for not turning the ball over. Vassell only has six turnovers in 18 games. He’s getting minutes and that’s a great sign for him to stay in good graces with Gregg Popovich.