Post-Draft 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds and Picks

The 2021 NBA draft came and went without much surprise. Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham went No. 1 to Detroit as expected and the top 5 to 10 picks went pretty much as most of the experts thought.

The biggest surprise happened before the draft even happened when the Los Angeles Lakers negotiated a trade for Russell Westbrook from Washington. The draft would then become one of several trades as picks moved around at a remarkable pace.

Here’s a recap of the draft and a look at the early race for the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year.

2021 NBA Draft Recap

As stated, there were no surprises among the top three picks, but Toronto, which was expected to take Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs, opted for 6-10 Scottie Barnes, instead. The thought was that the Raptors would make plans to replace Kyle Lowry, a free agent who is now in Miami.

Orlando would take Suggs at No. 5 and then Oklahoma City threw the next curveball selecting 6-8 point guard Josh Giddey from Australia. Giddey was believed to be a target of Memphis at No. 10.

Possibly the biggest surprise of the entire draft was San Antonio’s selection of Josh Primo at No. 14. Primo played one season at Alabama averaging 8.1 points per game and 3.4 rebounds. Primo’s performance at the NBA Combine improved his draft stock but going at No. 14 was considered a stretch.

Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu and Baylor guard Jared Butler were expected to go in the first round of this year’s draft. Surprisingly, both dropped to Round 2.

2022 NBA ROTY Race

Interestingly, the last three NBA Rookies of the Year were not the No. 1 pick in their draft class. Luka Doncic went No. 3 in 2018, Ja Morant No. 2 in 2019, and LaMelo Ball was the third pick in last year’s draft.

Despite the recent ROTY not being the top overall draft pick, Cunningham is still the favorite at +275. He has an NBA-ready game and will step right into Detroit’s point guard role. Cunningham will also get plenty of minutes as four the Pistons top six leaders in minutes played from last year are gone.

Remember, ROTY is typically a numbers game meaning add up a rookie’s points, rebounds, and assists per game and the best is usually your ROTY. Cunningham has a shot at right around 17 points, five boards, and five assists a game. That’s better than Morant and Ball, the ROTY winners from the last two seasons.

Top Contenders

At +500, No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green is the best NBA scorer in this year’s rookie class. We already know he score against NBA talent because he did it in the G-League where he averaged 18 points per game. The problem Green will have is simply usage. Houston has John Wall and Christian Wood plus Kevin Porter Jr. and three other first-round picks.

There really isn’t another true contender after Green. No. 3 overall pick Evan Mobley (+550) would be the best bet, but big men in the league typically take time to develop. Mobley has a great game and he may have the numbers by the time it’s all said and done next season.

The Sleeper

Cam Thomas was the 27th pick in the first round going to Brooklyn, which is the favorite to win the 2022 NBA Championship. Thomas did something that not many SEC freshmen have ever done. He averaged 23 points a game for LSU last season.

It’s a stretch, but Thomas could find himself the beneficiary of the Big 3 – Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden – and load management. You know Brooklyn will score and if Thomas gets his minutes, he just might have the numbers to pull off a huge ROTY upset. He’s listed at +5000.

The Pick

There is no question this ROTY race is Cunningham’s to lose. He will be an immediate starter and will post numbers worthy of a ROTY award. There may be a few that challenge Cunningham, but he has the best opportunity to win it.


2021/22 NBA Rookie of the Years Odds

Cade Cunningham +275

Jalen Green +500

Evan Mobley +550

Jalen Suggs +750

Scottie Barnes +800

James Bouknight +1200

Alperen Sengun +1600

Josh Giddey +1600

Davion Mitchell +2000

Corey Kispert +2500

Jonathan Kuminga +2500

Jalen Johnson +3000

Chris Duarte +3300

Franz Wagner +3300

Kai Jones +3300

Quentin Grimes +3300

Ayo Dosunmu +3500

Tre Mann +3500

Jaden Springer +4000

Jaden Butler +4000

Cam Thomas +5000

Read how to bet on NBA triple-double props and NBA next field goal props.

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.