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4 Players Who Could Win NBA Rookie of the Year With Zion Williamson Injured

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks reacts after scoring during the second half of their game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on October 25, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Before the NBA season, fans and pundits across the board were penciling in Duke superstar Zion Williamson as the undisputed Rookie of the Year. However, Williamson suffered a torn lateral meniscus and was ruled out for the first six-to-eight weeks of the season. And let's be real, there's no way the Pelicans rush him back. With Zion out of commission, the Rookie of the Year award has been up for grabs, and here are four major contenders to earn the achievement.

4. Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

MIAMI, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 03: Tyler Herro #14 of the Miami Heat dribbles the ball against the James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets in the second half at American Airlines Arena on November 03, 2019 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets v Miami Heat | Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Kentucky product famously lit up the NBA preseason with amazing scoring outbursts that had many claiming him as the steal of the 2019 NBA Draft. While Herro hasn't been able to carry his preseason production over into the regular season, he's still having himself a solid rookie year thus far, seeing minutes next to the likes of Justise Winslow and Jimmy Butler. As long as he continues to see steady playing time, there's no counting out Herro when it comes to the Rookie of the Year race.

3. Eric Paschall, Golden State Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 04:  Eric Paschall #7 of the Golden State Warriors talks with head coach Steve Kerr during their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Chase Center on November 04, 2019 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With the inordinate amount of injuries the Warriors have suffered so far this season, Paschall has stepped up as one of the team's best players. Drafted in the second round of this year's draft out of Villanova, he's averaged 16.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, numbers that will definitely be on the rise as he continues to see heavy minutes in the Warriors rotation, even when Draymond Green returns from injury. Just two games ago, Paschall led the Warriors to a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, posting 34 points and 13 rebounds. If Paschall has more performances like that, we might be looking at a viable Rookie of the Year candidate.

2. RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 1: R.J. Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball up court against the Boston Celtics in the first half at TD Garden on November 1, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
New York Knicks v Boston Celtics | Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Barrett's proved that he's ready for the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. He's served as a steady source of points and rebounds for a hapless Knicks team, averaging 18.3 and 6.1 while playing 37.1 minutes per game. And to think that David Fizdale was talking about RJ having to earn minutes in the rotation! He's certainly earned a starting spot now, especially without any real competition behind him for minutes.

1. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 23:  Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies in action against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on October 23, 2019 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
Memphis Grizzlies v Miami Heat | Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

Ja's already having himself a heck of a season for the Memphis Grizzlies. Drafted No. 2 out of Murray State as the heir to Mike Conley's spot as the starting point guard, Morant is currently averaging 19.7 points and 5.5 assists per game, and he'll continue to receive massive minutes on the court as long as he stays healthy. His handles are proving too much for even some of the league's savviest defenders, and he's more than capable of finishing at the rim.