- The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Miami Heat 129-121 in OT on Monday night.
- LaMelo Ball scored 14 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, issued 7 assists in his first ever NBA start.
- Ball is the current -140 betting favorite to win 2021 Rookie of the Year honors.
The Charlotte Hornets moved to within one game of the .500 mark after defeating the defending Eastern Conference champions Miami Heat on Monday night.
Malik Monk had one of the best scoring games of his career as he put up 36 points and drilled nine three-pointers to lead Charlotte’s come from behind OT win. But while the night belonged to Monk, Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball had a personal milestone on Monday night as he started his first NBA game.
First NBA Start
Who else is having fun watching @MELOD1P hoop? ??♂️ Tune in tonight at 7:30pm to see LaMelo’s first NBA start!
?: @WFNZ pic.twitter.com/0uWJhWCPxp
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 1, 2021
Last Saturday, Ball scored a career-high 27 points, grabbed five rebounds, issued nine assists, and had two steals while shooting 8-10 (80%) from the field as the Hornets upset the heavily favored Milwaukee Bucks 126-114 as nine-point betting underdogs.
He became the third rookie in NBA history to put up a statline of 27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals while shooting 80% from the field in a regular season game. LaMelo, Ben Simmons, and DeMar DeRozan are the only players since the start of last season to achieve the feat, and Ball is the only to do it this season.
LaMelo’s career-game came after guard Terry Rozier suffered an ankle injury earlier in the night. With Scary Terry declared out of Monday’s game against the Heat, Borrego rewarded LaMelo with his first NBA start. Ball didn’t have the same kind of numbers against the Heat. Still, he managed 14 points, five rebounds, and seven assists in 31 minutes of playing time. Not bad, either.
Rookie of the Year Favorite, Again
Who will win the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year award?
LaMelo Ball -160
Tyrese Haliburton +250
James Wiseman +450
Anthony Edwards +750
Immanuel Quickley +750
Cole Anthony +1400
Tyrese Maxey +3300 pic.twitter.com/xAEfXEsbM0
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) February 1, 2021
It’s still too early in the season with teams playing in sample sizes ranging from 15 to 21 games. But if his early play is an indication, LaMelo will be one of the front-runners to win the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year award. The 19-year old guard is a wiry threat from all over the basketball court with his accurate passing and ability to pull up in transition and hit the three-point bomb.
Although he is playing just 25.3 minutes per game, Ball ranks second on the Hornets in passing with an average of 6.1 assists per game which is ranked 18th in the entire league. And if you translate his current averages to per 36 minutes stats, LaMelo’s numbers would be 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. Those are impressive numbers.
The NBA’s best betting sites currently have LaMelo as the odds on favorite to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. The 3rd overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft is listed as a +160 at online sportsbook BetOnline. Ball was the preseason favorite at +400 but after a strong start, Golden State Warriors’ big man James Wiseman took over the top spot. But with Wiseman playing inconsistent basketball as of late and LaMelo balling out for the Hornets, Lonzo’s younger brother is once again the front-runner for that award.