LaMelo Ball, selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA draft, holds up his jersey during an introductory news conference on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Steve Reed)
- LaMelo Ball is expected to return from a broken wrist in just over a week
- Ball reclaims top spot in ROY odds, blowing past Anthony Edwards
- Read below to see if LaMelo is our bet for NBA Rookie of the Year
Time does heal all wounds. For Charlotte Hornets’ budding star LaMelo Ball, it just happens to heal a little faster.
While many thought the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft was done for the year after suffering a fractured right wrist against the Clippers on March 20, a Monday Woj Bomb announced that Ball’s wrist was not only healed, but he could be ready to play in 7-10 days.
It didn’t take long for LaMelo to rocket back to the top of the NBA Rookie of the Year rankings as the overwhelming favorite.
2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds
|Player||Odds at FanDuel|
*Odds as of April 19
Within hours of the news, Ball vaulted from his latest +150 odds right back to the -210 favorite, sending Timberwolves’ rookie Anthony Edwards from -125 to +170.
Not only that, he pushed the rest of the field down the ladder as well. SacTo Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton plummted from +200 to +600, while Knicks’ standout Immanuel Quickley lengthened from +5000 to +5500.
LaMelo’s to Lose?
If we’re going by stats, this is Ball’s trophy. Even though he’s missed the last 15 games, the first 41 games were pretty remarkable. Ball was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month three times, and he ranks first in assists and steals among rookies, while tied for second in both scoring and rebounding.
There’s optimism that LaMelo Ball could be ready to return to the lineup in 7-10 days, source tells ESPN. https://t.co/i3and2SLWf
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 20, 2021
Since moving to the starting lineup on Feb 1, ‘Melo really started to shine, averaging 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 21 starts. He also shot an impressive 42.6% from three-point range.
For The Third Consecutive Month, LaMelo Ball Is The Rookie Of The Month For The Month Of March. Here Are The Highlights For The Month. pic.twitter.com/6Mb3VLaLth
— Justsayevans (@springrob15) April 2, 2021
His return should solidify the Hornets as a play-in team at minimum. At 28-28 and sitting eighth in the East, the Hornets are just two games back of the Knicks for sixth, with the top-6 in each conference guaranteed a playoff berth.
Ball has the advantage as he’s the only prominent rookie in playoff positioning other than Quickley, who’s playing more of a supporting role on a surprising Knicks squad.
Can Edwards or Haliburton Catch Him?
The counter-argument to Ball taking ROY honors is not the body of work, but the sustained body of work. Taking the full 10-day projection of LaMelo making back into the lineup, he will have missed 21 of the 72 games in this shortened NBA season.
If one of the best abilities is availability, does Edwards — the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft — have a case?
🚨 DUNK OF THE YEAR !!! 🚨
ANTHONY EDWARDS ASSASSINE YUTA WATANABE 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀pic.twitter.com/WcvQBZco6y
— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) February 20, 2021
In 58 games, Edwards is averaging 18.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, with some draw-dropping, body-catching highlights. But he is shooting at just 39.7% from the field, and a lowly 32.6% from three-point range. His ascension to ROTY favorite when Ball got injured wasn’t a coronation so much as the next-viable-option.
Tyrese Haliburton named Western Rookie Of The Month!pic.twitter.com/ZDkDKZsJMv
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 2, 2021
Haliburton has played in 51 games, and he’s putting up 12.6 points and five assists a game while shooting it at 41.4% from three, but like Edwards, their teams are so far out of contention they’d need to go on a dramatic individual run to steal this award.
Quickley is probably the frontrunner for steal of the draft. He’s shining and getting far more burn than teammate and 7th overall pick Obi Toppin. Averaging 11.5 points and shooting it at 37.5% from three, the Knicks have plucked a good one, just not one that can make a ROY run.
2021 NBA Eastern and Western Conference Odds Tracker
What’s the Best Bet?
Even if LaMelo gets to just 51 games on the year, he’s clearly been the most impactful rookie in the NBA this season. Here’s hoping you predicted he was coming back and laid a wager, because the +150 total is looking a lot better now than this current shortened figure.
Still, assuming Ball does return in that timeline and plays the last 10 or so games, that should be enough to take home the hardware.
His presence alone should help the Hornets, who’ve hung tough without their young superstar, going 8-7 in the last 15, continue their story as the feel-good team in the NBA this year as they make the postseason.
The pick: Ball (-210)
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Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.