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NBA rookies to look out for in the 2020/21 season

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The battle to be named NBA Rookie of the Year will be extremely competitive this season. These are the leading contenders to take the league by storm.

LaMelo Ball

The six-foot-seven guard is the favourite to be named Rookie of the Year after the Charlotte Hornets took him as the third overall pick. The Hornets went 23-42 last season, and signed Ball in a bid to turn the franchise’s fortunes around.

He should be given the green light to run the offense and shoot in every game this season. Ball will share a backcourt with Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, and all three are strong at playing off the ball. Rozier is clearly a big presence in the team, but Ball appears to be the future of the franchise, and we should see James Borrego and Michael Jordan start to build the offense around him this season.

The 19-year-old already has a year at the Illawarra Hawks in Australia under his belt, and that professional experience could stand him in good stead. Ball’s older brother, Lonzo, was the second overall pick in the 2017 draft and has played for the Lakers and the Pelicans. LiAngelo, another brother, has also displayed great promise, and it will be interesting to see how LaMelo fares in the NBA.

If he can average around 16 points and eight assists per game, while shooting at better than 35% from behind the arc, Ball would be all but certain to win the Rookie of the Year award.


James Wiseman

Wiseman was the second overall pick in the draft and he finds himself in exalted company at the Golden State Warriors. The Dubs reached five straight NBA Finals before faltering last season following the departure of Kevin Durant and long-term injuries to several key players.

The Warriors are underdogs to win another NBA Championship this season – check out this basketball betting promo if you plan to bet on NBA futures – but they could surprise a few people, and they certainly offer value at 30/1. Three of the Hamptons Five – Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – are still at the franchise, and they could be dangerous this season, injuries permitting.

Wiseman is an interesting addition to the roster. Kevon Looney is back for the Dubs, but Wiseman looks a lot more talented. He is seven-foot-one and he has the makings of a terrific defender, while he could thrive playing pick and roll with Curry and a high-low game with Green, so it will be fascinating to see how he progresses.

Obi Toppin

Toppin was the eighth overall pick and he was not initially mentioned as a leading contender for the Rookie of the Year award. However, the odds on him securing it have plummeted in the build-up to the season, as fans are convinced that he could be the impact player the New York Knicks so desperately need in the frontcourt.

One issue could be his defensive prowess. Coach Tom Thibodeau is famed for his lack of patience with rookies, and if Toppin’s defensive skills prove to be below par, he will not get much game time. Julius Randle is still in the team, and he may be preferred due to his more proven ability to score against NBA athletes.


Anthony Edwards

The first overall draft pick will bid to make an instant impact at the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is not considered a major contender for the Rookie of the Year award, as he faces a lot more competition for minutes and production than Ball, but if he seizes his opportunities then he could light up the league this season.

Edwards was phenomenal for Georgia last year, and it is easy to see why Minnesota was so keen to bring him to the franchise. The Timberwolves are stacked with talent on the wings, which could limit Edwards’ playing time, at least in the first half of the season.

Yet he could prove to be a stronger shot-maker on the wing than any of his rivals for a place in the starting rotation. The Wolves have missed that shot-making danger down the flanks – the Andrew Wiggins trade did not work out – and Edwards could flourish in the team if he is given the opportunity.

Killian Hayes

Hayes was snapped up by the Detroit Pistons as the seventh overall pick at the 2020 NBA draft. He was born in Florida but raised in France after his father, DeRon Hayes, moved there to play ball. He showed great promise from a young age and he was named MVP for the French under-21 league after averaging 16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game back in 2017-18.

Hayes spent last season playing for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, where he impressed with his playmaking ability, passing and basketball IQ. He looks like a fantastic prospect, but he may struggle to dislodge the veteran Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons team.

We may not see too much of Hayes in the early weeks of the season, but Rose is injury prone, so that could present Hayes with opportunities to shine.

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