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Anthony Edwards was robbed in Rookie of the Year voting

Anthony Edwards
May 11, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) in action in the second half against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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Anthony Edwards had a better year of basketball in the NBA than LaMelo Ball did. The Rookie of the Year trophy shouldn’t have anything to do with future success. That’s not what’s up for debate here.

The NBA needs to decide if it’s about branding or about rewarding the best players. Of course, Ball has a bigger ‘brand’ off the court, but that shouldn’t influence any voters when it comes to determining Rookie of the Year.

When Ball was on the court, he was a phenomenal player, but he missed 21 out of a possible 72 games. Anthony Edwards? Played all 72. Despite this. Ball earned the top honor over his fellow youngster.

Did the Minnesota Timberwolves’ record impact Anthony Edwards’ chances of winning?

It was another long season in the Twin Cities and surrounding area for Minnesota Timberwolves fans. While optimism grew as the season went on, the Wolves finished with a 23-49 record with Anthony Edwards.

At 33-39, the Charlotte Hornets managed to reach the play-in tournament. Perhaps, their record somehow influenced voters, but it shouldn’t have had a great impact. Playing in the Eastern Conference, they had an easier path.

In the East, a team can go 36-36 and still earn the seventh seed as the Boston Celtics did. In the West, that same record would have landed them in the 10th seed in 2021.

Even looking at All-NBA teams, four first-team players are from Western Conference teams. The second team features three of five from the West and the third team features two of five. Nine of the 15 All-NBA players play in the West. 

It’s no secret playing in the Eastern Conference provides an easier path. While Ball’s Hornets had a slightly stronger record, it wasn’t that much better.

We shouldn’t knock Anthony Edwards for not carrying his team to the playoffs. After not winning a ton of games at Georgia in college, we shouldn’t expect him to suddenly know how to get to the postseason his first season in the NBA. Most rookies don’t.

Did Anthony Edwards’ defensive lapses cost him ROY?

anthony edwards snubbed for nba rookie of the year
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

We won’t deny that Anthony Edwards got off to a rougher start in his NBA career. But as he spent more time on the court, it wasn’t hard to see Ant growing up before our eyes. 

There were several times Edwards lost sight of his defender and allowed an easy bucket. This won’t get him or his team to the playoffs any time soon. 

His on-ball defense could use a lot of work, but his quick reaction ability allowed Edwards to make strides on that end, leading to a 25-game steal streak at one point.

Maybe his defensive lapses directly cost him the ROY award, but offensively, he was brilliant. 

Anthony Edwards was the best Rookie in 2021, on offense

Before being drafted, some said the No. 1 overall pick needed to work on his jumper. Whether he refined his shot or just got more comfortable, Edwards showed he’s in the right place. 

Take the Memphis game for example, when Ant went 8-for-9 from 3-point land and hit 17-of-22 shots. He scored 42 points, somehow with 0 coming from free throws.

Over the final 22 games of the year, Anthony Edwards had a higher true shooting % than players such as Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. Ant also became the third-youngest player to have 40 or more points in a game, with just LeBron James and Kevin Durant ahead of him.

Edwards scored 42 points twice, both times against playoff teams such as the Grizzlies and Suns. He also scored 20 or more in exactly half of the games played.

Simply put, there were several times where Edwards was the best player on the basketball court.

NBA botched 2021 ROY by not awarding Anthony Edwards

This felt like an easy decision, yet voters gave the award to the wrong player. 

Maybe this year commissioner Adam Silver should have enacted an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference Rookie of the Year award. 

In an age where the NBA tries to prevent their teams from resting star players, why reward a situation where a worthy candidate didn’t miss a game despite being in a losing season where any other team would have tanked?

Most first-year players hit a rookie wall from playing a lot more games in the NBA, but not A1. He’d probably still be getting better, dunking on fools had the season gone longer.

Not that LaMelo Ball sat out games or could have prevented his wrist injury, but as we’re seeing in the playoffs, just being available for your team can play a big role in their success. For Edwards in his rookie season, he was always ready to ball.

What are the 2021 NBA ROTY voting results?

LaMelo Ball over Anthony Davis was a crime
May 4, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) handles the ball during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It will be interesting to see more details when the NBA officially reveals the Rookie of the Year voting results. Edwards had to have received many first place votes, since the ROY announcement was dragged out so long, it makes one think this decision was a close call.

While Edwards went on a tear toward the end of the basketball season, perhaps it was too late. Maybe the minds of some voters had already been made up. 

If that’s ultimately what happened in the eyes of some naysayers, then shame on you for not realizing the growth of Ant as the season went on. 

For the rest of the NBA, well here’s a kid who’s motivated by being snubbed. Like Michael Jordan would likely say about all this, and I’m guessing Anthony Edwards would agree, “I took that personally”.

Ant was robbed.