Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball was the overwhelming favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year, receiving 84 of the 99 first-place votes.
“It’s probably something I’m never going to forget,” Ball told reporters.
Ball was the third overall draft pick, averaging 15.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds. He learned of the honor Wednesday when teammate Miles Bridges surprised him with the award.
“I definitely did not know,” Ball said. “Because all the stuff, it says ROTY, Rookie of the Year. It says that everywhere. I’m thinking like, maybe a little campaign. Like ‘Melo, oh, you’re in the running. We want you to win.’ So I’m thinking, ‘Oh, cool. They gave me a little jersey.’
“And he’s like, ‘Bruh you’re not even looking. And then when he moved it again, I was like huh. And then when I saw it, I was like ‘Ohhh, all right.’ It was cool.”
Ball, 19, won over Timberwolves guard and No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards, who averaged 19.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, and Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton, who averaged 13.0 points and 5.3 assists.
Ball was also the third player in Charlotte history to claim the award, joining Larry Johnson and Emeka Okafor.
The Hornets’ season ended with a loss to the Pacers in the play-tournament. Ball said the award will help to keep him motivated.
“Definitely next season I want to come in with this little boost and pretty much looking forward to next season now,” Ball said. “That’s what we’re all working out for. That’s what we’re all here for. Pretty much just trying to get better every day.”
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