As the league approaches the first third mark of its 2020-21 campaign, it’s time to check out the current NBA rookies rankings. Teams and their respective rookies have played around 25-30 games, which equates to just about the one-third mark of the league’s 72-game season. Rookies are beginning to carve out solidified roles while fans and media have enough of a sample size to make some early predictions on their young careers. For the most part, the top draft picks have played to or exceeded expectations while we’ve seen a few players that may have been overlooked. Check out the NBA rookies rankings, February 2021 edition.
NBA Rookies Rankings: February 2021
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Entering the middle of February, there’s one name and one name only when considering Rookie of the Year Award favorites. That’s LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets. Considered one of the most polarizing prospects entering the 2020 NBA Draft, Ball has completely changed the narrative. Through his combination of flashy plays and reliable statistics night in and night out, Ball is the top rookie in the NBA.
Through 28 games, Ball leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game. He’s averaging 14.6 points, 6.1 assists, 1.5 steals, and 6.2 rebounds each night. Perhaps the most surprising of these statistics has been his rebounding. Although the rookie stands at a modest 6-foot-6, Ball commands the point guard position and has shown a combination of ability and effort to grab so many rebounds each night.
With the third pick in the draft, it appears Charlotte has found its franchise centerpiece. The Hornets sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 13-15 record.
The only rookies in NBA history to make 7+ 3-pointers and have 10+ assists in the same game:
◾ Steph Curry
◾ Jason Kidd
◾ LaMelo Ball
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 9, 2021
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic
After an injury-riddled freshman campaign at the University of North Carolina, Cole Anthony’s draft stock fell. He was taken 15th overall by the Orlando Magic and has lived up to all of his pre-college hype. Anthony ranks in the top eight for rookies in scoring, rebounding, assists, free-throw percentage, and minutes.
The North Carolina product was forced into an immediate role with the Markelle Fultz injury and has not disappointed. Anthony plays more than 25 minutes per night, notching 11 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per night. He also shoots 83.6 percent from the charity stripe. Unfortunately for Anthony, this may mark the highest spot he’ll achieve on this list. Last week, the point guard went down with a rib injury. Orlando announced he’ll be sidelined until after the All-Star break with this news.
— Orlando Magic PR (@Magic_PR) February 16, 2021
Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
After the Sacramento Kings picked up Tyrese Haliburton with the 12th pick, some felt this was the steal of the draft. The soon-to-be 21-year-old has turned heads through his first 25 games in the NBA. Haliburton ranks second among league rookies in both minutes per game and assists. During his near 30 minutes of action per night, Haliburton is putting up 12.4 points, 5.2 assists, and 1.2 steals.
The Iowa State product is proving his basketball IQ, which was praised entering the draft. Haliburton scores on close to 50 percent of his shots, including 44.3 percent from deep. He also puts up a staggering (for rookies) 61.9 percent effective field goal percentage. Sacramento has added another young star to complement its young core of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Richaun Holmes, and Marvin Bagley III.
The hesitation 🥶
The flush 😤
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) January 30, 2021
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Aside from his scoring, Anthony Edwards doesn’t put up any stats that will wow you. However, he’s a wing player that provides a huge impact for the Minnesota Timberwolves by playing both sides of the ball and spacing the floor. Edwards ranks second amongst rookies in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. The University of Georgia product and number one pick of the 2020 NBA Draft has played in 27 games while averaging 27 minutes.
It may be a long year and start to his young career as Minnesota sits with the worst record in the NBA at 7-20. Still, playing for a team in total rebuild mode allows Edwards to go through as many rookie growing pains as quickly as possible. He’s continued to display his NBA-ready size and should improve quickly throughout this freshman campaign.
Anthony Edwards exploded to the hoop 🐜 pic.twitter.com/lyJBMcl1YB
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 15, 2021
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have been one of the most surprising stories of the 2020-21 NBA season. New York sits sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 14-15 record and is not the same team that other squads used to roll over. Newly hired head coach Tom Thibodeau has shown an immediate impact on the basketball culture. But, we should also point out the play of its young core.
This young core includes Immanuel Quickley, the 25th selection in the 2020 NBA Draft. Quickley was actually drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder before New York landed the University of Kentucky product via trade a few days later. While only averaging 19.3 minutes per game, Quickley puts up 12.5 points and 2.7 assists per night. He also scores on 41 percent of his shots and 94.5 percent at the charity stripe.
With the Knicks off to a hot start, the franchise actually made a mid-season move to improve the franchise as opposed to beginning a tanking for the draft. Last week, New York traded for Derrick Rose, which may cut into Quickley’s game time. Right now, Rose and Quickley are paired rotationally off the bench, but this may change. Regardless, this is an incredible learning opportunity for Quickley, who plays a very similar style of game to the 12-year NBA veteran.
Immanuel Quickley & Derrick Rose provide a spark off the bench in the @nyknicks W!
IQ: 22 PTS, 4 3PM
D.Rose: 16 PTSpic.twitter.com/f6649JE2qm
— NBA (@NBA) February 14, 2021
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