After a stellar first season, Charlotte Hornets’ point guard LaMelo Ball was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. He is the third player to win the annual award with Charlotte, joining Larry Johnson (1991-92) and Emeka Okafor (2004-05).
Ball received the honor on Wednesday, June 16.
— NBA (@NBA) June 16, 2021
“Honestly, way before the league when I was playing basketball and they were talking about the NBA stuff, that is when I knew when I’m a rookie that is one of the accomplishments I can get,” Ball said.
The 6-foot-7 Ball was selected third overall in 2020 after playing professional ball in Lithuania and Australia. Ball’s versatility as a passer, scorer and rebounder went beyond expectations throughout this season. The starting guard averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.59 steals in 28.8 minutes in 51 games (31 starts), leading all rookies in assists and steals and ranking second in points and rebounds.
His immediate impact with the Hornets was evident, as he became the youngest player in the NBA history to have a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in just his 10th career game.
“A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this,” Hornets coach James Borrego said after the game. “This is rare what you’re seeing.”
Teammates have also attested to his generational talent. “He’s a special player,” Hornet’s shooting guard Cody Martin said. “You don’t have a lot of players that come around like him too often. For him, to be able to see it in person, not only to be able to do that on the court but the kind of person he is off the court, just his energy, the way he carries himself, just being a good teammate, that’s hard to find.”
It’s clear that Ball has established himself as a foundational piece to Charlotte’s future and everyone, including owner Michael Jordan, is excited about it.
“I think Melo has adjusted to the NBA game better than any of us ever thought this early in his career,” Jordan told The Associated Press. “He has exceeded our expectations.”
Ball was the runaway winner, receiving 84 of the 99 first-place votes and earned 465 total points. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards finished in second while Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton finished third. Edwards received the other 15 first-place votes and 309 points. Haliburton finished 114 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The award was determined by a global panel of 100 writers and broadcasters who cover the league.
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