Ja Morant Now Favored To Win NBA Rookie Of The Year Award
The NBA Rookie of the Year race will be fascinating. It already has taken on some dimensions that couldn’t have been predicted with the injury to Zion Williamson and the emergence of Kendrick Nunn. There are some stories worth monitoring, such as R.J. Barrett of the Knicks being better than a number of people expected. Yet, when all is said and done, these three candidates below are the most interesting and compelling ones right now:
JA MORANT, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
The Ja Morant hype has been validated through the first month of the NBA regular season. Morant is averaging 18.5 points per game entering Thursday while averaging 6.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds. Morant is scoring well but also being a functioning, integrated part of the offense. The challenge for him is two-fold. First off, he’s coughing up 3.8 turnovers per game, which he’ll have to cut down on. Secondly, the Grizzlies are just 5-9. Part of this award is elevating the play of the team and while Morant has done that, it hasn’t translated into wins. That’s where guys lie Zion Williamson and Kendrick Nunn might have an edge.
ZION WILLIAMSON, NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
The injury to Zion has prevented him from taking the court to this point, but if Zion is able to start playing before too long, and he lives up to the hype, he will shoot to the top of the board. His talent is too overwhelming and his presence is too undeniable for him to be denied in the ROY voting if he makes his case, even in a reduced number of games. There are 82 games in a season, and 13 have been played, leaving 69. If Zion can play 55 or more games, that would leave at least two-thirds of the full season.
The other factor here is that nobody has really run away with this race. Morant is playing well and is the leader right now, but it’s very early. That’s left the door open for Williamson to return, perform like a star and get back in the driver’s seat.
KENDRICK NUNN, MIAMI HEAT
This has been the intriguing surprise of the Rookie Of The Year race. Nunn came out of nowhere to take everyone in the NBA by surprise. He scored at least 24 points in three of his first five regular season games as an NBA player, a very rare feat. On the season, he’s contributing a healthy 17.3 points per game with 2.2 threes, 3.4 assists and 2.5 rebounds. He’s one of the main reasons why the Heat have gone from a cellar-dweller to a team that might contend in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
If Nunn can maintain that clip the whole season, he will be in this race to the end. Shooting threes that well as an NBA rookie will make Nunn hard to defend on the court, and hard to ignore for voters.
JA MORANT +200
ZION WILLIAMSON +250
RJ BARRETT +400
TYLER HERRO +800
KENDRICK NUNN +1000
COBY WHITE +1200
RUI HACHIMURA +1200
BRANDON CLARKE +1800
ERIC PASCHALL +2000
PJ WASHINGTON +2500
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