LaMelo Ball Betting Favorite to Win 2021 NBA ROY over Anthony Edwards Despite Injury

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 11: LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets smiles before the game against the Atlanta Hawks on April 11, 2021 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite missing the past 17 games with a fractured right wrist, Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball remains the betting favorite to win the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Ball is a -330 (10-33) favorite, followed by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards at +240 (12-5), Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton at +950 (19-2) and New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley at +6,500 (65-1).

Initial reports indicated Ball's injury last month was season-ending, but he had his cast removed and was cleared to return to individual basketball activity earlier this week.

Prior to getting injured, Ball was far exceeding expectations during his debut campaign.

In 41 games, including 21 starts, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft has averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.0 three-pointers made while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Some questioned Ball's shooting and physicality entering his rookie season, but he has answered those questions emphatically and outperformed what his older brother Lonzo Ball has done in four NBA seasons.

Perhaps most impressive is that the Hornets sit eighth in the Eastern Conference at 28-30. They haven't made the playoffs since the 2015-16 season.

Ball might have been the runaway Rookie of the Year winner if not for the injury, but his absence has allowed Edwards to close the gap.

Additionally, the No. 1 overall pick has gotten better as the season has gone on, showing why the Timberwolves chose him.

In 60 games, including 43 starts, Edwards is putting up averages of 18.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.3 trifectas made. He is shooting 40.0 percent from the floor and 32.2 percent from deep.

The T-Wolves are only 14th in the West at 16-44, which could hurt Edwards' candidacy, but the 19-year-old's statistical surge (23.0 PPG since Feb. 24) is tough to ignore.

Haliburton and Quickley have both enjoyed excellent rookie seasons as well, but the Rookie of the Year race is a two-horse affair between Ball and Edwards.