NBA rookie rankings: Anthony Edwards finishes season at the top

·8 min read

The regular season has ended, and we won’t see top rookies like Anthony Edwards or Saddiq Bey in any of the postseason games. LaMelo Ball's Charlotte Hornets are in the play-in tournament with a long road to the first round of the playoffs. Edwards closed out the season with a 42-point game earlier this month, and Ball dished out 62 assists in his final 10 games. In what was thought to be a weaker draft class, there were a ton of players who contributed solid minutes this season and will continue to be key players on teams down the road.

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Here’s a look at Yahoo Sports’ final rookie power rankings for the 2020-21 NBA season.

1. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves

Previous rank: No. 1

19.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg

BetMGM odds to win Rookie of the Year: +500

LaMelo Ball returned to the court May 1, and four days later in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Edwards dropped 42 points and silenced any doubt as to who should win Rookie of the Year. We saw the shooting guard out of Georgia blossom into a dynamic scorer in 72 games this season and become a media darling in his postgame interviews.

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It’s been three years since the No. 1 overall pick won the top rookie award. Ben Simmons beat out Donovan Mitchell for the award in 2017-18 in what many fans saw as a controversial decision since Simmons was technically a rookie but his draft class was actually 2016. 

Go back two more years and it was Edwards’ teammate, Karl-Anthony Towns, who won the award in 2016 and was also the No. 1 pick in his draft class.

Anthony Edwards dunks in front of Tyler Bey.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards dunks in front of Dallas Mavericks guard Tyler Bey in their final regular-season game on May 16, 2021, in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves defeated the Mavericks 136-121. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

2. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

Previous rank: No. 2

15.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 6.1 apg

BetMGM odds to win Rookie of the Year: -900 

Ball had the most pressure out of any player in this draft class, and he did everything to silence all critics this rookie season. One of the only reasons Edwards could edge out Ball for Rookie of the Year is because Ball missed 21 games with a fractured wrist and Edwards played at a high level all season.

The youngest Ball brother could end up being the best player in this draft class long-term and continues to redefine what a modern NBA point guard is with some of his unique passing and the way he puts pressure on the defense in transition.

“He’s always one step ahead of the defense, and he’s a really smart player,” Hornets teammate Miles Bridges said. “It was crazy in our first practice, I missed like three passes from him, and he was like, ‘Bro, always look at me. I’m always looking at you.’ So, ever since then, I always look. We have a great chemistry going.”

3. Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

Previous rank: No. 5

12.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.4 apg

The Pistons took Bey with the 19th pick, and he has turned into the biggest surprise of this rookie class. Detroit is one of the worst teams in the league and not a lot of people saw what the former Villanova wing did this year so let’s recap: He led all rookies in made 3-pointers with 171. Bey shattered the franchise record for most 3-point shots made by a rookie (previous record was by Brandon Knight with 106). He shot 40% from the field and 38% from 3-point range, and he averaged 27 minutes per game. Bey is the best three-and-D guard in this draft class and will be a key player in the future as Detroit looks to rebuild.

4. Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Previous rank: No. 3

13 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.3 apg

BetMGM odds to win Rookie of the Year: +8000

Haliburton’s season ended a little early after he suffered a knee injury on May 2 in a game against Dallas. Prior to that game, Haliburton had a phenomenal three-game stretch where he averaged 16.6 points and 9.3 assists per game. Haliburton led all rookies in assists with 309 and stepped up in a big way in De’Aaron Fox’s absence in the second half of the season. Defensively, the Kings have a lot of areas they need to improve but the future looks bright in the backcourt with Haliburton, Fox and Buddy Hield.

5. Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic

Previous rank: No. 4

12.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.1 apg

There’s a lot to like about the first-year players on the Magic, led by Anthony. The former North Carolina point guard averaged 14 points in May to close out the season. The way Anthony facilitates off the ball is what is most exciting to see heading into next season when Markelle Fultz returns. He has never backed down from any matchup in his first season and is adjusting well to the spacing at the NBA level.

Cole Anthony goes up for a shot against Furkan Korkmaz.
The Orlando Magic's Cole Anthony goes up for a shot against the Philadelphia 76ers' Furkan Korkmaz during the regular-season finale on May 16, 2021 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

6. Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

Previous rank: N/A

9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 apg

Three short years ago, Williams was an under-the-radar high school recruit and barely had any high-major Division I offers. He came off the bench in his one year at Florida State and averaged only nine points and played 22 minutes per game. The Bulls shocked a lot of people when they selected Williams with the No. 4 overall pick, but it has definitely worked out for the team. Williams is an elite defender who has gone head-to-head with some of the best players in the league and held his own. LeBron James had high praise for the rookie early in the season, and Williams is a player who isn’t even close to reaching his full potential yet. He’s been a little inconsistent this season, but finished with 24 points and five rebounds in one of the final games of the season against Brooklyn.

7. Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets

Previous rank: No. 9

11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.5 apg

Tate closed out the season strong scoring 20 points and getting a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on May 14. Tate is one of the older rookies at 25 years old and was successful in going up against stronger, more experienced guards this season. The undrafted rookie is one of the best rebounders in the league for his size at 6-foot-4 and is deadly in the open court with his change of speed.

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8. Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons

Previous rank: N/A

7.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.9 apg

Stewart led all rookies in rebounds with 453 and finished 31st in the NBA in his first season. He was the most physically ready power forward in this draft class and made his presence known in the lane with his 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame. This was a rebuilding year for the Pistons, but there’s a ton of promise from the three draft picks they brought in last year with Stewart, Bey and point guard Killian Hayes.

9. Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

Previous rank: No. 6

11.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2 apg

BetMGM odds to win Rookie of the Year: +15000

What a season for the former Kentucky guard. Quickley entered the league with a killer floater after perfecting the shot during the nine-month break due to COVID-19. Quickley was inconsistent down the stretch, but he always found ways to impact the game whether he played 11 minutes or 25 minutes. He was one of the most surprising rookies this season and will be an instrumental contributor for the Knicks in years to come.

Immanuel Quickley looks to pass the ball as JaVale McGee defends.
New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee defends during a game on May 5, 2021 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

10. K.J. Martin, Houston Rockets

Previous rank: Honorable mention

9.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apg

Like his dad, Kenyon Martin, K.J. is a freak athlete who can jump out of the gym. There were some question marks as to how his game would translate to the NBA, but he seems to be finding his way just fine. Martin is looking like a complete steal at No. 52 to Houston.

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Honorable mention

Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic

Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers

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