NBA Rookie Of The Year Odds
While many experts consider Cade Cunningham the favorite for Rookie of the Year, Jalen Green has the same odds (+250) to win. Cunningham potentially has a better chance to win because his usage percentage should be higher. However, many factors can derail a Rookie of the Year (or any other award) campaign.
The first potential catalyst to identify is injury history. Cunningham had a minor ankle injury last year, but it is nothing to be concerned about long-term. Since nothing else has come from it, it can be considered a one-time incident. Jalen Green was injured earlier in August towards the end of Summer League with a sore hamstring. MRIs were taken as a precaution, but there is no severe damage.
Next, it is essential to identify potential usage percentage and roster (scoring) deficiencies. Cunningham has a much weaker roster around him, leading to a high usage percentage and probably a significant number of shots. Green will need to compete with Kevin Porter, John Wall, Alperen Sengun, and Christian Wood for touches and shots. Meanwhile, Cunningham pretty much has to split shots with only Jerami Grant.
This represents a significant discrepancy in shots. Not to mention that Cunningham will have the ball in his hands more as a primary ball-handler, which will create more opportunities for assists. Lastly, Cade is a slightly better rebounder than Green. Cunningham averaged over six rebounds per game last year, which should translate to a similar number in the NBA.
2021-22 NBA Rookie Of The Year Odds
Front-Runner: Cade Cunningham (+250)
Cunningham has absolutely everything you could want in a player. He’s poised, athletic has scoring prowess, and has a very high basketball IQ. For these reasons, he is an obvious choice for many to be Rookie of the Year. Detroit will probably give him the keys to the offense immediately so that they can expedite his “superstar process.” The Pistons won’t be good either way, so they might as well work on developing a few of their All-Star-caliber players like Jerami Grant and Cunningham. Cade is a front-runner to be the Rookie of the Year with his offensive talents. He will probably have the highest usage percentage for any rookie in the NBA.
Likely: Jalen Green (+250)
Every basketball addict has followed Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga in the G-League over the past year. They both had the luxury of playing elite, NBA-level guys. And these are grown men who probably want to show the “new kids on the block” a thing or two. Despite Green getting everyone’s “best” day-in and day-out, he still managed to put up ludicrous numbers for a teenager. He averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game on 46.1/36.5/82.9 shooting splits. His potential for being a 50/40/90 player with an elite offensive game was on full display.
While this recent trend of players opting out of college to join the G-League is relatively new, there is one thing that is for sure: some incredible players will be molded from this experience. Green is no different. This was all on display during Summer League. Green looked like he was on a completely different level than most of those guys. Thus, it is shocking to no one why his Rookie of the Year stock has jumped up and may continue to do so throughout the year.
Long-Shot: Josh Giddey (+2200)
The criteria for choosing a long-shot are reasonably solid: the player needs to have the potential to get significant minutes from Day 1 and needs to play on an injury-riddled team. Additionally, the team that said player is on has to have a serious lack of scoring. Do you remember Tyreke Evans in 2010? Even though he was the fourth pick in the draft, there were not a ton of people that predicted him winning Rookie of the Year, especially with players like Blake Griffin, James Harden, Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, and Ricky Rubio all in contention. However, look at the Kings’ roster that year. Outside of Tyreke Evans, their best players were Kevin Martin and Carl Landry. That year, Martin played in 22 games, and Landry played in 28 games. Do you see the pattern? When considering a long shot, the criteria are simple. By laying all of that out, a clear blueprint has been created. Let’s look at potential long-shot Rookie of the Year candidates.
God forbid that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander goes down with an injury again. He played in merely 32 games last year due to right foot plantar fasciitis. However, if something happens again, Giddey’s odds would likely skyrocket from +2200 to something like +500, which would put him in serious contention. Giddey should also start for the Thunder on Day 1; honestly, it would be shocking if he didn’t.
Oklahoma City has one of the worst rosters in recent memory. The Thunder have serious difficulty scoring the ball as they ranked 28th in the NBA in points per game last year. The only two teams who ranked lower were the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic. I expect that both of those teams will have immensely more scoring this year than the Thunder, so Giddey is a considerable value pick for Rookie of the Year. While I don’t know if his game is “ROY material,” he will be handed the keys to the offense in the event Shai is ever unavailable. That could lead to some reasonably massive games in terms of the stat sheet. Giddey has an innate ability to do a bit of everything on offense, so this pick may be something worth considering.
Stay Away From Everyone Else
When considering players to stay away from Rookie of the Year futures, a lot of the same logic from the “Long-Shots” section applies, except in reverse. Stay away from players on talented rosters where there will be a lot of competition for minutes, scoring, and general stat sheet stuffing. In no way does this section mean that these players can’t become perennial All-Stars in the future but aren’t good for this particular bet. These players include Jonathan Kuminga (+2500), Scottie Barnes (+1200), Jalen Suggs (+700), Alperen Sengun (+1000), and Davion Mitchell (+1200).
Now, the status quo can always change if a significant trade depletes a team’s resources, thus forcing one of the players listed here to step up. However, as of right now, there is no reason to believe any of these players have even a decent shot of winning Rookie of the Year. If the Kings or Raptors make huge roster moves that push Mitchell or Barnes into a starting slot, then you can reassess as needed.
There are a few players I like for Rookie of the Year in 2021-22. Cunningham is an obvious choice at +250 odds because of his high usage potential. Another solid pick would be Jalen Green at +250 because of his scoring ability and scorer’s mentality. Giddey is worth looking into at +2200 simply because he has Rookie of the Year upside when considering the Oklahoma City Thunder roster and their injury history. Choosing any of these players to become a Rookie of the Year will be a great futures bet. Circumstances can always change, but for now, this is the way to go. Stay tuned to Lineups throughout the year for any updates to the Rookie of the Year race.