GALLERY: Ball Rookie of the Year
June 16, 2021 – The NBA announced today that Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has been named the 2020-21 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, making him the third rookie in franchise history to be selected as Rookie of the Year along with Larry Johnson (1991-92) and Emeka Okafor (2004-05). Ball earns Rookie of the Year honors after also winning three consecutive Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards through the first three months it was awarded.
Ball, who was selected third overall by the Hornets in the 2020 NBA Draft, accrued averages of 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals in 28.8 minutes per game, appearing in 51 games (31 starts), as he became just the 12th rookie in NBA history to average at least 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals since the 1973-74 season. Ball ranked 17th in assists and ninth in steals per game among league leaders this season as he became the only player in the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star break.
Ball is the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double after totaling 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists vs. Atlanta on Jan. 9 at 19 years and 140 days old. The game was just the 10th of his career, making him one of eight players in NBA history to post a triple-double in 10 career games or less.
Among first-year players this season, Ball led all rookies in assists and steals and ranked second in points and rebounds per game. He was also third in total points (803), first in assists (313), and third in steals (81) among rookies. Amongst Hornets all-time rookie leaders Ball finished second in total assists, third in 3-point field goals (91), tied for fifth in steals and 10th in points.
Ball had at least 10 games with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as he is just one of three rookies in their teens with 10 or more 20-5-5 games as he joined Luka Doncic and LeBron James. He finished with 17 20-point games this season, the fourth most in franchise history by a Hornets rookie and recorded seven double-doubles, the second most by a rookie this season, including four 20-point double-doubles.
Ball scored 24 points, knocking down seven 3-point field goals to go with 10 assists and seven rebounds vs. Houston on Feb. 8 as he became just the ninth rookie with at least 20 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five made 3-point field goals in a game. He is just one of three players (Jason Kidd, Stephen Curry) to post 20 points, 10 assists and five rebounds while making at least seven shots from beyond the arc in a game during their rookie season.
Ball received 84 first-place votes and 15 second-place votes, earning 465 total points from a global panel of 99 sportswriters and broadcasters. 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. Other finalists for the 2020-21 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year award were Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards and Sacramento’s Tyrese Haliburton.