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Who is your midseason Rookie of the Year?
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Steve Aschburner: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets. Yes, the same guy who is going to be my end-of-season choice, barring something crazy. Ball has breathed life into the Hornets, playing — as numerous coaches have said — not just like the NBA’s top newcomer but a star in a rapidly approaching future. He quickly achieved that special status few rookies experience when his play started impacting Charlotte’s winning. He does what it takes on a given night, and his unselfishness sets a standard from which a lot of veteran players could learn.
Shaun Powell: LaMelo Ball is almost living up to the hype, which began when he was what, 6 years old? The kid is making highlight plays and is fun to watch. Remember, this game is also about entertainment and he actually has folks tuning in to the Hornets. Imagine that. His shooting was a major question coming into the season, yet those fears have subsided because he’s been better from deep than anyone thought (and is top 10 in steals). Love me some Tyrese Haliburton, too.
John Schuhmann: LaMelo Ball. The highlights and the boxscore numbers are obviously there. Ball has also been relatively efficient; his true shooting percentage of 56.1% is below the league average (57.2%), but ranks sixth among 13 rookies with at least 200 field goal attempts. He’s helping the Hornets, who’ve seen the league’s fourth biggest jump in point differential per 100 possessions, stay competitive in the East. Gordon Hayward has made a big impact and Charlotte has seen marked improvement from Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and Malik Monk. But Ball’s playmaking has played a role in that improvement. He’s the real deal and not just a guy who makes fancy passes.
Michael C. Wright: The experts cautioned during the NBA draft process that LaMelo Ball could turn out to be a bust, but the 19-year-old has proved everybody wrong with his elite skillset, playmaking ability and sense of confidence that seems to rub off on the rest of the team. Ball leads all rookies in scoring (15.7 ppg) and assists (6.4), basically forcing his way into the starting lineup by Feb. 1 by making the most of the opportunities he was given. Hornets coach James Borrego raves about Ball’s ability to make passes and reads on all three levels, which is rare for a rookie. Besides that, Ball is just flat out fun to watch.