The Race to Rookie of the Year

A week ago today, mouths dropped around the globe as it was made aware that the NBA season would be suspended indefinitely.

Questions upon questions were brought to the forefront of NBA fan’s minds: How long would this go on? Who would’ve won the championship? Who would have taken home the MVP? One thing that seemed to get tossed to the side was the rookie of the year race that had been going on. After the first couple weeks of the regular season, it looked as though Ja Morant, the explosive point guard from the Grizzlies, was going to win it uncontested. Then Zion arrived. After dropping 22 points in his debut, Zion Williamson would go on to become the first teenager in NBA history to have 13 games of 20 or more points. With Morant’s consistent play and Williamson’s flashy emergence, this race had become one of the most exciting narratives in the NBA this season. If the season did end today, who would take home the hardware?

Ja Morant came out of Murray State with high expectations. His performance in the NCAA March Madness tournament had boosted his draft stock immensely, enough for him to get selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the second overall pick. Morant came into the season strong and eventually distanced himself from any other playing rookie with his aggressive but smart play. Veterans around the league were showering him with compliments and it was clear that Morant was here to stay. Not only did Morant averaged 18 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds per game before the NBA suspension, he also propelled the Grizzlies to be in the playoff picture. Top all this with the fact that Morant has played in almost every game for his team this season makes his rookie of the year campaign very impressive.

Photo: Andrew Joseph

Zion Williamson was the consensus number one pick in last year’s NBA draft. He was drafted to the New Orleans Pelicans and had very high expectations. After getting surgery to repair a torn meniscus, it seemed as though his injury was way worse than anyone anticipated. There were even reports saying that he forgot how to walk properly. After missing the first three months of the NBA season, Zion got back to action and made history. He had 13 consecutive games of 20 or more points, which is the most for any teenager in NBA history. Along with this, up until the NBA suspension, Zion posted averages of 24 points, 2 assists and 7 rebounds over 19 games. Aside from his games played, these numbers are highly impressive and make a great case for rookie of the year

Photo: Jonathan Bachman

All in all, both rookies have had amazing seasons. Both have put up worthy campaigns and this race has made for one of the best we’ve ever seen. Who do you think should take home the award?

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