Hornets' LaMelo Ball wins NBA Rookie of the Year

·2-min read

Votes for the NBA Rookie of the Year are in, and this season the award is going to LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets.

The award was announced on TNT on Wednesday night, and Ball was surprised by teammate Miles Bridges.

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Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings were also in the running, having been named finalists along with Ball back in May. 

Ball received 84 first place votes, and Edwards received 15. Haliburton came in third with nine second place votes.

Ball, 19, was the third overall pick in the 2020 draft. He averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Hornets this season and won the first three Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards. 

He played in 51 games, missing 21 games due to a broken wrist. The injury could have been season-ending, but he returned to the Hornets just in time to help them secure a spot in the play-in tournament, their first postseason appearance since 2016.

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Missing an extended period due to injury usually dooms a rookie's chance at winning the award, but Ball's impact on the Hornets was too great to ignore. He directly helped the Hornets rise as high as fourth place in the East, and head coach James Borrego felt that's what should put him over the top for the award.

“He has clearly impacted winning, more so than I even expected,” Hornets head coach James Borrego said in early April, via the Charlotte Observer. “When you can impact winning and put up those numbers, you are clearly Rookie of the Year.”

LaMelo Ball drives to the basket with the ball in his hand.
LaMelo Ball won the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year award even after missing games due to a broken wrist. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

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