In short, yes. LaMelo Ball is certainly the clear favorite for the Rookie of the Year Award as we near the midway point of the season. LaMelo currently leads all rookies in almost every major stat category. Ball leads in total points, rebounds, assists, and steals. The only category he does not lead in is blocks, in which he ranks fourth among rookies.
When Ball was selected with the third pick at just 19 years old, the Hornets had high aspirations for the young guard. Ball spent the 2019-2020 season in the NBL Austrailia League with the Illawarra Hawks where he averaged 17 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.6 rebounds. Ball was named the NBL Rookie of the Year in his lone season with the league. Ball’s game has translated quite well to the NBA, where he is averaging 14.2 points, 5.9 boards, and 6.2 assists.
Ball has been on a tear since being placed in the starting lineup. In Monday’s victory over the Houston Rockets, Ball knocked down 7 threes and finished with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists leading the Hornets to a 25 point victory.
Ball’s numbers have seen an increase since being added to the starting lineup, something other rookies such as Tyrese Haliburton and Immanuel Quickley would benefit from to help aid their case for Rookie of the Year. Haliburton and Quickley have both played a key role for their respective teams with their scoring off the bench.
As it stands right now in early February, the inconsistencies of Anthony Edwards and Cole Anthony make it tough to argue for them, and James Wiseman still has some work to do when he is back and healthy. We are still yet to reach the halfway point of the season, making this race is far from over. But from what we have seen so far in terms of numbers and impact on the floor, LaMelo is in the driver’s seat.