More than two full months after the NBA officially concluded their 2020-21 regular season, the league finally announced some significant rookie awards this week, including the Rookie of the Year award this past Wednesday and now (finally) the All-Rookie teams yesterday afternoon:
2020-21 NBA All-Rookie teams:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 18, 2021
First team: LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Saddiq Bey, Jae'Sean Tate
Second team: Immanuel Quickley, Desmond Bane, Isaac Okoro, Isaiah Stewart, Patrick Williams
Both LaMelo Ball (who finished first in the Rookie of the Year voting) and Anthony Edwards took home unanimous honors for First Team, with fellow rookie Tyrese Haliburton finishing one vote shy of unanimous honors himself. The full breakdown of the voting can be found below:
Jaden McDaniels came in 15th All-Rookie team voting -- 5 spots away from making one of the two All-Rookie teams.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) June 18, 2021
Which is pretty dumb if you watched him play basketball games this year pic.twitter.com/DzHxyTKq4P
Before we debate who may or may not have been snubbed, let’s recap Anthony Edwards’ rookie campaign with the Minnesota Timberwolves — ANT led all qualified rookies in scoring with 19.3 points per game, the largest rookie scoring average in Timberwolves history. He also tied for fifth in steals (1.1) and tied for eighth in assists per game (2.9). Edwards was the only rookie to play in all 72 games and ranked first amongst rookies in total points (1392), second in total three-pointers (171), second in total steals (82), third in total rebounds (336) and fifth in total assists (211).
Additionally, the former Georgia Bulldog was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month three times this season (March, April, May), becoming the third player in Wolves history to earn the honor multiple times (Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015-16 and Andrew Wiggins in 2014-15). He tallied a rookie-leading and Timberwolves rookie record 36 20+ point games this season. He also recorded at least one steal in 25 straight games earlier in the season, the longest ever run by a Timberwolves rookie (Pooh Richardson, 15 games twice in the 1989-90 season). Per Elias Sports, Edwards’ 25-game streak with at least one steal was the second-longest by a rookie in NBA history (Chris Paul- 31 2005-06).
Edwards joins Richardson, Christian Laettner, Isaiah Rider, Stephon Marbury, Wally Szczerbiak, Randy Foye, Ricky Rubio, Wiggins and Towns as Wolves rookies to earn All-Rookie First Team honors (h/t Timberwolves PR).
As for the rest of the voting — anyone who knows me knows that I am the unofficial President and Treasurer of the “Jaden McDaniels Fan Club,” so seeing him fall five spots short of an All-Rookie team is pretty disappointing (and also pretty ridiculous). Jaden did receive one first place vote (don’t look at me! I’m just a blogger!), but still wound up with less total votes than Boston’s Payton Pritchard and Golden State’s James Wiseman (who somehow received three first place votes which shows the NBA voting process is 1000% broken).
Again, the headliner here is Anthony Edwards, who capped off one of the most exciting rookie seasons in Minnesota history with an unanimous selection to the All-Rookie First Team. Without getting (too) sappy here, it’s fair to say that the arrival of ANT-Man in Minneapolis not only provided a much-needed spark for the Timberwolves franchise, but it also saved the fandom of many people (myself included).
Covering Edwards during his rookie campaign was one of the most memorable things many of us have ever done, and while he may not have taken home all of the hardware that us fans had hoped for, the future for this 19-year old has never been brighter. Congrats ANT!