Awards Rumors

During the first 19 games of his career, Zion Williamson has put up numbers that have him in the company of legends Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan. His strong performance — averaging 23.6 points per game on 58.9% shooting — has led many to wonder if Williamson, even in an abbreviated season, could unseat Ja Morant to win this year’s Rookie of the Year award. In a straw poll conducted over the past few days by ESPN of 70 eligible voters, a clear consensus has emerged: no.

Ja Morant heavily favored to win Rookie of the Year

ESPN polled a mixture of local beat writers from across the league as well as national and international reporters. And to simulate the voting process, we used the same point system as the NBA at the conclusion of the regular season — every first-place vote is worth five points, with second-place votes worth three points and third-place votes worth one point. Behind Morant and his perfect 350 points came Williamson, with 51 of the 70 second-place votes along with 11 third-place selections for a total of 164 points.
Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been named on 40 ballots, with a huge gap existing between him and crosstown rival Anthony Davis (61 points, 25 ballots) in sixth. Six other players — Chris Paul (28 points, 10 ballots), Nikola Jokic (18 points, eight ballots), Pascal Siakam (12 points, six ballots) Damian Lillard (four points, four ballots), Jayson Tatum (three points, one ballot) and Bradley Beal (one point, one ballot) — rounded out the voting.
Storyline: MVP Race
Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been named on 40 ballots, with a huge gap existing between him and crosstown rival Anthony Davis (61 points, 25 ballots) in sixth. Six other players — Chris Paul (28 points, 10 ballots), Nikola Jokic (18 points, eight ballots), Pascal Siakam (12 points, six ballots) Damian Lillard (four points, four ballots), Jayson Tatum (three points, one ballot) and Bradley Beal (one point, one ballot) — rounded out the voting.
Storyline: MVP Race