Ja Morant runs away with NBA Rookie of the Year

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It was not unanimous — 99 out of 100 select media members voted Memphis’ Ja Morant as the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year. One voter (not yet identified) selected Zion Williamson.

That one vote does not change the outcome: Memphis’ Ja Morant is the runaway NBA Rookie of the Year.

Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat finished second, Zion finished third. Memphis’ Brandon Clarke finished fourth, and Coby White of Chicago was fifth.

So long as he can stay healthy, Zion may end up being the best player in this class — he was the best player this season when he was on the court, averaging 22.5 points a game on 58.3% shooting. His presence, once he returned from knee surgery, helped turn New Orleans’ season around.

Morant wins based on one simple stat: 59>19.

That’s the number of games played by Williamson and Morant. While Zion was sidelined for much of the season, Morant was on the court and averaged 17.6 points and 6.9 assists a game. Morant’s play turned a team expected to be one of the NBA’s worst into a team that almost made the playoffs (they lost to the Trail Blazers in the play-in game).

Nunn was the starting point guard all regular season long for the Miami Heat, averaging 15.3 points a game and helping lead the Heat into the postseason. Nunn contracted COVID-19 just before going to the bubble, which pushed him back to coming off the bench for Miami in the playoffs.

Other players who received votes for Rookie of the Year (voters had to select first, second, and third place) were Golden State’s Eric Paschall, Terrence Davis, and RJ Barrett.