Training camps are open and the NBA preseason schedule is underway. Later this month, the games starting counting for real in the standings. The preseason exhibition games are a great way to get that first look at the newest players in the league; the rookies.
Along with league MVP honors, betting on which first-year player earns NBA Rookie of the Year honors are two of the more popular futures to bet on ahead of the new season. Betting the MVP futures comes with a much better understanding of a player’s ability. That bet can be narrowed down to two or three of the top players on the list.
Making NBA predictions for rookie of the year honors relies heavily on speculation. The betting odds are already skewed toward the betting public’s perceptions. They are not necessarily steeped in actual fact.
Zion Williamson was without a doubt one of the most dominant college basketball players last season with the ACC’s Duke Blue Devils. Drafted first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, he has the best odds on the board to win this season’s ROY honors at -140.
At 6-foot-7, 285 lbs. with excellent all-around basketball skills, Williamson probably deserves to be the favorite to win this award. The fact that former Pelicans’ standout Anthony Davis is now playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, adds the true value to these odds.
Williamson will get a chance to make an immediate impact on his team’s fortunes from the opening game. He will also come under some major scrutiny in that bright of a spotlight. If he can live up to all the lofty expectations as the next elite player in the league, his odds to win ROY will only become more lopsided as the season wears on. Betting him now would be the best-valued pick for going chalk.
Next on the list of ROY futures in the NBA this season is Ja Morant at +300. He will be playing for the Memphis Grizzlies as that team’s top draft pick this year. The Grizzlies finished last season at 33-49 and Morant is in line to become a big part of the rebuilding process. It does remain to be seen just how much of an impact he can have his rookie year. He has looked good in early workouts and preseason action to add some value to his odds, but he would not be my first choice.
The third-favorite to win ROY is RJ Barrett at +550 betting odds. He was the third overall pick of the draft by the New York Knicks. Playing in New York automatically adds value to his odds given the high-profile nature of this major market. He also has a chance to make an immediate impact on the worst team in the Eastern Conference last season at 17-65. New York did not make an expected big splash in free agency this offseason to add some extra pressure on Barrett as a rookie. Yet, I see him as an excellent value pick given the current odds.