Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball’s versatility as a passer, scorer, and rebounder earned him NBA Rookie of the Year honors Wednesday despite missing 21 games with a fractured wrist.
Ball beat out finalists Anthony Edwards from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Tyrese Haliburton from the Sacramento Kings to win the award, which was determined by a global panel of 100 writers and broadcasters who cover the league.
The 6-foot-7-inch Ball was selected third overall in 2020 after playing professional ball in Lithuania and Australia.
Ball led all rookies with averages of 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game and was third with 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds.
He made an immediate impact with the Hornets, becoming the youngest player in the NBA history to have a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in just his 10th career game on Jan. 9 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Harden in, Irving still out
The Brooklyn Nets will continue to play without Kyrie Irving (sprained ankle) and don’t know exactly what kind of production they will get from James Harden as the star players deal with injuries.
None of that might make any difference if Kevin Durant keeps performing the way he has thus far in Brooklyn’s second-round playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Nets own a 3-2 series lead thanks largely to Durant, who had 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists in a performance for the ages as host Brooklyn rallied from a 17-point deficit in a 114-108 Game 5 victory Tuesday. He became the first player in NBA history to have at least 45 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game. He played all 48 minutes and Harden played 46.
Pelicans, Van Gundy part ways
Stan Van Gundy is out as Pelicans coach following just one season at the helm. The club described Van Gundy’s departure as a mutual agreement “to part ways.” Hired last October, about two months before the start of a pandemic-delayed and shortened season, Van Gundy coached a Pelicans squad led by All-Star Zion Williamson to a 31-41 record. New Orleans finished in 11th place, two games out of the final Western Conference play-in spot. Now vice president of basketball operations David Griffin will be hiring his second coach in as many season after firing Alvin Gentry last summer … Scott Brooks won’t be back with the Washington Wizards next season after general manager Tommy Sheppard announced the coach’s contract would not be extended. Sheppard said the Wizards will begin their coaching search immediately. Brooks is out after just one playoff series victory in 2017 to show for his five seasons on the job. Washington made the playoffs three times in those five years … Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson, instrumental in the club’s acquisitions of Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic, is leaving the organization after 24 seasons. The Mavericks and Nelson agreed to part ways, with owner Mark Cuban saying the 58-year-old son of former coach Don Nelson was “instrumental to our success and helped bring a championship to Dallas.” While the European stars were critical to a title and what appears to be a bright future for Dallas, the franchise hasn’t won a playoff series since capturing the title. And there have been plenty of questionable decisions in the draft.
Lillard to play for Team USA
Portland guard Damian Lillard told USA Basketball officials that he will play for the national team in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, said a person with knowledge of the decision … It appears that if Serbia makes the Olympics, the reigning NBA MVP — Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets — will not be with them in Tokyo. Citing the need for rest, Jokic has decided to not join the Serbian team for the Olympic qualifying tournament that starts later this month; the Serbians must win that six-team event to grab one of the four remaining spots in the field for the Tokyo Games.