Way-Too-Early 2019-20 Rookie of the Year Odds

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 18, 2019

Way-Too-Early 2019-20 Rookie of the Year Odds

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    Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Deandre Ayton set the bar high during the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year race. 

    This year's odds come from Caesars. The favorite is obvious, although it's worth noting that since Elton Brand and Steve Francis split the award in 2000, only seven No. 1 overall picks have won it.

    The odds favor three prospects and list the rest as long shots. We broke down every rookie capable of realistically entering the discussion, including those whose chances are slim.

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

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    Steve Marcus/Associated Press

    Rookie of the Year Odds: -250

    The draft's No. 1 overall pick is unsurprisingly the favorite for Rookie of the Year.

    But the odds for Zion Williamson aren't overwhelming. To win $100, a bettor would have to throw down $250 on the 285-pound forward who just finished with the highest player efficiency rating of any college player in the last decade.

    And while he has the obvious talent advantage in the class, he also has a well-rounded supporting cast and a projected role as a featured player.

    Williamson will go from playing with RJ Barrett (32.2 percentage usage) on a team that shot 30.8 percent from three-point range (No. 329 in the country) to suiting up for a New Orleans squad with passers and shooters like Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Nicolo Melli and Frank Jackson. 

    That should lead to better spacing and more easy scoring chances for Williamson, whose unprecedented mix of explosiveness, power and quickness will continue translating to easy baskets at the rim.

    He won't need a jump shot right away to match Deandre Ayton's rookie numbers of 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Williamson will need time to improve in the half court once his limited shooting range and shot-creation skill hit NBA scouting reports. But the race for 2019-20 Rookie of the Year won't be as competitive as 2018-19's. 

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Rookie of the Year Odds: +333

    The draft's No. 2 pick, Ja Morant will be an enticing bet at +333, which means bettors would only have to gamble $30 to win $100.

    The Memphis Grizzlies traded Mike Conley to create a high-usage role for the franchise's rookie point guard. Morant should be looking at 30-plus minutes and a green light to play through mistakes for a projected lottery team. 

    But he was also given new weapons in Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen and summer league MVP Brandon Clarke, along with budding star Jaren Jackson Jr. and returning veteran Jonas Valaniunas. Morant will have more exciting targets than he had at Murray State, where he still managed to become the only qualified NCAA player since 1995 to average at least 10 assists in a season. 

    Elusive off the dribble and explosive in the open court with elite passing skill and vision, his playmaking should carry over. Trae Young's 8.1 assists per game seem like an achievable feat for Morant, whose setup ability remains his signature strength.

    The bigger question is how well his scoring will translate because of his skinny frame and questionable shooting range. He figures to have more difficulty finishing in the lane and consistently making jump shots. 

    Still, Morant should reach double figures each game just off his expected usage, ball-handling, shot-creation and athleticism. He'll need Williamson to hit a wall, but averaging around 15 points and eight assists won't be out of reach. 

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Rookie of the Year Odds: +450

    Though the New York Knicks didn't add the superstars they sought in free agency, they did sign a handful of solid veterans who'll each have substantial roles. The acquisitions of Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson will make it tough for RJ Barrett to consistently produce, particularly since his spot-up shooting remains a weakness.

    Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr. and Allonzo Trier will also be looking to take steps forward. 

    Barrett figures to be more productive in the second half of the season since the Knicks will presumably be sellers at the trade deadline, ready to prioritize their young players' development near February.

    The No. 3 overall pick's strengths and weaknesses were on full display in Las Vegas, where he managed to average 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists but only shot 33.8 percent from the field, 24.1 percent from three and 60.0 percent at the free-throw line. 

    Though known for scoring at Duke, Barrett's passing and rebounding may actually translate faster until he improves his ball-handling and three-point stroke. He'll find success making plays off ball screens and turning defensive boards into transition offense.

    And he is strong enough offensively to make open shots and capitalize as a slasher through driving lanes. 

    It's also understandable why Barrett is listed at +450. He's more of a long shot than a favorite behind Williamson and Morant.

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Rookie of the Year Odds: +1500

    Even with the fourth-best odds, Darius Garland is a major long shot.

    Other than Collin Sexton's presence on the Cleveland Cavaliers, he won't have many restrictions. The rookie guard should still be looking at plenty of touches and shots, particularly given his ability to work off the ball as a catch-and-shoot threat.

    On the other hand, a knee injury limited him to just four full games (and no summer league) over the past year. Also, he was never known for passing or decision-making (15 turnovers, 13 assists at Vanderbilt), so it's unlikely he registers a strong assist-to-turnover ratio during his first NBA season, especially while sharing the ball with Sexton. 

    His shot-making will translate fastest. Garland may struggle to finish at the rim, but he's advanced around the perimeter, both as a creator and pull-up shooter. 

    He's a good bet to score between 12 and 16 points per game, potentially putting up numbers similar to Sexton's rookie-year averages in 2018-19 (16.7 points, 3.0 assists). It's just unlikely they'll be enough to win Rookie of the Year in a race with Williamson and Morant.

Long Shots

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    De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks: +1800

    Hunter lacks the athleticism, skill and projected role to expect exciting rookie production. He'll earn minutes and praise for his flashes of defensive potential and shooting, and he'll showcase glimpses of scoring versatility as a driver and post player.

    But Hunter isn't strong enough in any offensive area to compete with Williamson or Morant. Plus, he only averaged 6.3 rebounds per 40 minutes at Virginia.

            

    Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets: +1800

    After missing the majority of his one-and-done season at Missouri and all of last year with the Denver Nuggets, Porter's unavailability in summer league as he recovered from a knee sprain won't help his dark-horse chances at Rookie of the Year. 

    He'd be a sneaky bet for his scoring potential, which is fueled by 6'10" size, face-up ball skills and three-point range. But between how little he's played over the past two years and the Nuggets' overall talent and depth, it's difficult to have confidence in his ability to produce at the favorites' levels.

                 

    Coby White, Chicago Bulls: +2500

    White's ROY chances took a hit when Chicago signed Tomas Satoransky. It was the right move for the franchise and White, who needs time to develop his lack of strength, inconsistent shooting and suspect floor game, none of which are up to par with most starting point guards in the NBA.

    He's a skilled shot-maker and passer, and he'll give Chicago an encouraging dose of both in spurts. He'll likely be used as a change-of-pace weapon off the bench this season so the Bulls can optimize his strengths and minimize the damage from his expected inefficiency. 

              

    Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves: +3000

    Culver has a chance to start alongside Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington and Karl-Anthony Towns. He'll have to improve as a catch-and-shoot option (31.6 percent at Texas Tech), and the last time we saw him in the national title game, he had a difficult time creating separation (5-of-22) against De'Andre Hunter, the No. 4 pick.

    Still, Culver, the No. 6 pick, is one of the class' most complete players in terms of positional tools, scoring, passing and defense. He's just likely to need more than a season with a role adjustment, some shaky three-point shooting and a skinny 194-pound frame.

             

    Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks: +3500

    After ranking in the 33rd percentile for spot-ups, shooting 47.3 percent at the rim and making 20.6 percent of his contested jump shots at Duke, Reddish doesn't scream NBA-ready.

    He can be a dangerous shooter with range and the ability to make shots in bunches. But a Hawks starter would need to get injured for Reddish to have enough minutes and chances to catch fire and compete for Rookie of the Year. He also isn't likely to have the assists or rebounds to make up for the expected lack of scoring efficiency. 

           

    Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans Pelicans: +4000

    Despite the strong start at summer league, Hayes remains more of a long-term project who'll develop behind Derrick Favors.

    He'll still pick up dunks and blocks at a high rate when put in games. However, spacing concerns, foul trouble and a lack of interior strength will make it difficult to play him more than 20 minutes per game.

           

    Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards: +4000

    Hachimura averaged 19.3 points in summer league, and he's likely to attract a lot of attention on a Wizards team that should give him a clear path to 25-plus minutes per game. He doesn't rebound or pass well, so he'll need to score. But he likely won't be a consistent shooter after making just 15 three-pointers during his third collegiate season.

    However, he's an intriguing long-shot bet with NBA tools, plus athletic ability, versatile mid-range moves and a locked-in rotation spot.  

             

    Tyler Herro, Miami Heat: +6500

    Oddsmakers didn't put much stock in summer league, especially with Herro, who averaged 19.5 points and 3.8 assists in July. It wouldn't be shocking if his odds improved before the season began because his potential role and shot-making should be enough to outproduce rookies like Sekou Doumbouya (+5000), Nassir Little (+5000), Bruno Fernando (+6000), Mfiondu Kabengele (+6000) and Keldon Johnson (+6000).

    Herro will be erratic, and Jimmy Butler, Justise Winslow, Derrick Jones Jr. and Dion Waiters could all start ahead of him on the depth chart. But Herro's odds sound too enticing at +6500. Miami will want shooting, and he could be someone who earns minutes from head coach Erik Spoelstra, particularly given his extreme confidence.

            

    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports, Sports-Reference.com