Every year, a panel of esteemed sportswriters and broadcasters vote on NBA awards and All-NBA Teams. Before a new rookie class enters the league in Thursday’s NBA Draft, let’s look back at the two All-Rookie Teams from 2020-21 — and at the outlook for their 2021-2022 seasons.
All-Rookie First Team
Pick: Round 1, 3rd Overall
Team: Charlotte Hornets
Team prior to the NBA: Illawarra Hawks - National Basketball League (Australia)
Rookie Stats: 15.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.1 APG
Hometown: Anaheim, California
It’s pretty clear, Ball’s got his sights on an All-Star game appearance. The reigning Rookie of the Year got a taste of Playoff ball in the Play-in Tournament and will use that experience to elevate his game. LaMelo proved himself to be an elite passer and creator, averaging 7.7 assists, but he will need to improve his scoring and efficiency (43.6 FG% 35.2 3PT%) next season as the unquestioned starting point guard for the Hornets. If he does so, Ball may work his way into being a nightly triple double threat.
Pick: Round 1, 1st Overall
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
Team prior to the NBA: University of Georgia Bulldogs
Rookie Stats: 19.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
The Timberwolves may have a busy off-season. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2017-18 when Jimmy Butler was running the show. To get back, Edwards will need to work on his game, specifically his defensive focus, offensive inefficiency, and building chemistry with KAT. He’s a relentless attacker and one of the best pure athletes in the league, and consensus is he’s heading toward stardom. Edwards can also provide a Top Shot Moment on any given night.
Pick: Round 1, 12th Overall
Team: Sacramento Kings
Team prior to the NBA: Iowa State University Cyclones
Rookie Stats: 13.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.3 APG
Hometown: Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Rookies aren’t often stabilizing forces in the NBA, but Haliburton provided just that for the young Kings. Coming into the league, Haliburton was a bit of a polarizing prospect because of his slight frame and unorthodox jumpshot but he settled in alongside De'Aaron Fox, providing efficient, secondary playmaking and much-needed spacing for the Kings offense. He has an uncanny ability to manage pace and is great at setting up his teammates, but needs to be more aggressive attacking the basket. The Sacramento Kings haven’t reached the postseason since 2005-06, and Haliburton will have to play a pivotal role if that’s going to change next season.
Pick: Round 1, 19th Overall
Team: Detroit Pistons
Team prior to the NBA: Villanova University Wildcats
Rookie Stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.4 APG
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Bey exceeded most fans’ expectations on his way to a first team All-Rookie selection. The 6’7'' forward proved to be a sharpshooter and a sturdy defensive player for the Pistons. To improve, Bey has to work on diversifying how he gets his shot off. He will look to improve his three point shooting, which will increase his overall scoring. Many draft boards believe the Pistons will select Cade Cunningham with the top pick on Thursday. Those two players will look to start creating some excitement for the Pistons franchise.
Team: Houston Rockets
Team prior to the NBA: Sydney Kings - National Basketball League (Australia) via Ohio State University Buckeyes
Rookie Stats: 11.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Tate is not your average rookie. After going undrafted in the 2018 draft, Tate found some footing in the Belgian BNXT League. After a year in Belgium, the 6’4” small forward signed with Sydney Kings in the Australian NBL. The Houston Rockets took a chance on Tate and he rewarded them with a first team All-Rookie campaign. Tate’s usage steadily increased throughout the season to a peak of 24.3% in May and he will be a big part of the Rockets 2021-2022 campaign. The Rockets are in full rebuild mode so Tate will get plenty of time on the court to hone his skills.
All-Rookie Second Team
Pick: Round 1, 25th Overall
Team: New York Knicks
Team prior to the NBA: University of Kentucky Wildcats
Rookie Stats: 11.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.0 APG
Hometown: Havre de Grace, Maryland
The 25th overall pick got MSG rocking. Quickley spent the beginning of the season trying to find his role on the Knicks but coach Tom Thibodeau took a liking to the rookie, giving him chances to cement his spot in the rotation. He’s an exciting offensive player, very shifty and heady, that Thibodeau will likely work with extensively this offseason to improve his defense. The expectation is that the Knicks will look to be active this off-season and Quickley must continue improving on both ends to keep his spot.
Pick: Round 1, 30th Overall
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Team prior to the NBA: Texas Christian University Horned Frogs
Rookie Stats: 9.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
Hometown: Richmond, Indiana
Bane became an essential part of the Grizzlies bench and in most contests played the most minutes off the bench for the team. However, his inexperience showed in the playoffs and he lost playing time to Grayson Allen. With one of the most exciting young players in the game in Ja Morant, the Grizzlies will look to build on this season’s success. Bane will play a big role in that, and will be expected to improve his 43.2% 3 point percentage on the way to a minutes jump in the 2021-22 season.
Pick: Round 1, 16th Overall
Team: Detroit Pistons
Team prior to the NBA: University of Washington Huskies
Rookie Stats: 7.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 0.9 APG
Hometown: Rochester, New York
Stewart was an exciting prospect out of college due to his insane athleticism. Over four days in April, Stewart finally showed what he was capable of with a string of eye-popping performances:
- 4/16/21 - 15 points, 21 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
- 4/17/21 - 19 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks
- 4/19/21 - 18 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks
Stewart is a machine on the offensive glass and is good under the basket. Since he spends most of his time in the paint or in pick-and-roll action, he invites contact and should look to improve upon his 69.6 percent from the free-throw line.
Pick: Round 1, 5th Overall
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Team prior to the NBA: Auburn University Tigers
Rookie Stats: 9.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 APG
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Okoro can flat-out jump out of the gym. The 6’5” guard is simply a freak athlete that viciously attacks the basket. Besides his athleticism, Okoro was drafted because of his 3-and-D potential, but struggled with his on-the-ball defense and shot - 29 percent from distance - in his 67 starts. Those numbers have to get better, but at only 20 years old, there is plenty of time to improve.
Pick: Round 1, 4th Overall
Team: Chicago Bulls
Team prior to the NBA: Florida State University Seminoles
Rookie Stats: 9.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 APG
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Williams had extremely high expectations after being drafted 4th overall, largely due to his multi-positional defensive versatility and upside. The Bulls and new head coach Billy Donovan immediately put a lot of faith in Williams, starting him in 71 games -- and it paid off. Williams proved to be an excellent defender and was trusted to guard many superstars at the guard and forward positions. At just 19 years old, his offensive game looked raw and at times he seemed tentative shooting the ball. He played the fourth most minutes on the team but was ninth in attempted field goals per game. The minutes he played this year were extremely valuable though and he will look to build off of that.
Pick: Round 1, 15th Overall
Team prior to the NBA: University of North Carolina Tar Heels
Rookie Stats: 12.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.1 APG
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Anthony was one of the best rookies in the NBA last season. Unfortunately, an injury in early February left him sidelined until April. Even though he only played 47 games, Anthony had a significant impact on the court including two game-winning buzzer-beaters and fantastic command of the offense. Anthony along with Markelle Fultz, who is also returning from injury, are poised to run the show for the Magic going forward. If Anthony can continue improving, the Magic could surprise many teams.
Be sure to visit the Marketplace to relive these 10 players’ best Moments from their rookie season.
There is so much talent in the 2020 rookie class and the future of the NBA is in good hands.
The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of NBA Top Shot.