With LaMelo Ball now set to miss the rest of the campaign not only will the Charlotte Hornets' fan base be in despair but the rookie of the year award has just been blown wide open.
Here we look at who will win the Rookie of the Year award.
Who are the outsiders?
If we’re being blunt about things, there are probably only four names in the race to be named Rookie of the Year. We’ll cover them more closely in a moment but before we delve into the leading quad it only feels fair to give a mention to those just on the periphery of the conversation.
James Wiseman of the Golden State Warriors, had looked a real contender earlier in the season but has slipped away whist Pistons man Saddiq Bey can consider himself in a similar position to Wiseman.
Both players have done more than enough this season to show that they have a future in the NBA. It would be close to unprecedented if either of them could close the gap on the others we’ve picked out though.
Quickley might be much more likely to scoop the Rookie award than Wiseman or Bey but it will still need the New York Knicks point guard to pull something pretty remarkable out of the bag over the remainder of the season. Quickley and co are in an okay position in the league but consistency has been their biggest challenge.
It’s something that Quickley has suffered too with his stats swinging quite dramatically from one game to another. Of course, there has been far more positives than negatives and if he can start to drag up his season averages of 12.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game then he’ll give himself a much healthier chance of fighting up this list.
The Sacramento Kings are hardly soaring high in the standings but that is not through any fault of their first round pick, Haliburton. The Iowa State graduate already leads the Kings on steals (1.3) per game but he's having a decent season in other areas too. 5.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 12.8 points makes good reading and it’s those sorts of displays that have earned him two rookie of the month awards.
Even with his ability as a three point shooter, it’s going to take quite an impressive end to the season for Haliburton to clinch the full award but he's close enough in the running that you shouldn't completely rule it out.
Aha. You might be surprised to see the Hornets youngster sitting so high up this list given we've already touched on what is expected to be a season ending injury he sustained against the LA Clippers. If you were unsure of how good he'd been this season then this might give you some insight. The 19-year-old leads his team in assists (6.1) and steals (1.6) per game whilst his points contribution shouldn't be underestimated either at an impressive 15.9; that puts him behind just Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier on the Hornets roster. It's the same place he sits for rebounds too with 5.9. All that bundled together just proves how strong his all round game has been.
Finally, we come to the biggest beneficiary of Ball's injury - Anthony Edwards. For those who don't follow the game all that closely you could see the Timberwolves sitting rock bottom and be dismissive of his contribution. They shouldn't be.
He's far from the finished article but that's to be expected in his inaugural campaign. What boxes does he tick? Well, he's got incredible athleticism, explosive power and the ability to sink dunks galore. He's played in every game having started 60% of them. 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists is hugely respectable given what he's got around him.
There you have it, the NBA’s leading newcomers. Who do you think will win Rookie of the Year and join the previous winners?
If you like NBA and basketball content, check out TwinSpires Edge list of best NBA players to never make the All-Star season game: edge.twinspires.com/nba/the-best-players-to-never-make-an-nba-all-star-team/