NBA Rookie Of The Year Betting
The NBA Rookie Of The Year award goes to the best rookie player in the NBA every year. There are no set criteria for this award – it is voted on by a panel of sportswriters and other league officials – but the award is rarely drastically wrong. It is not, however, predictive – plenty of bad players have won the Rookie of the Year award and plenty more Rookie of the Year winners have not ended up as the best player in their Draft Class when all was said and done.
Rookie of the Year voting provides another avenue for sports bettors to make money, however. Similar to betting on the MVP Award, betting on the Rookie of the Year award can be a rewarding practice for those sports bettors who are well versed in the NBA.
COVID-19 And The 2020 Rookie Of The Year
The 2020 NBA season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic in March but the league is now scheduled to resume play on July 30th. An important correlation between the Rookie of the Year award voting and the Covid-19 postponement is that the NBA stated that the only pre-postponement play will count towards Rookie of the Year consideration. Essentially the race will still be between Ja Morant and Zion Williamson but any stellar performances these two have in the NBA’s restart bubble league won’t be considered in the Award Race.
This essentially locked up the award for Morant, a result that was confirmed after the awards were announced. Zion was great, but only played 19 games outside of the bubble. You can’t win Rookie of the Year playing 19 games. Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat was also a finalist for the Rookie of the Year award after an excellent rookie season.
Current Rookie Of The Year Race
Ja Morant won the 2020 Rookie of the Year award, with Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans and Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat making up the finalists. With all due respect to Nunn, however, the 2020 rookie of the year race was between Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. This was an interesting race – Zion played far fewer games than Ja after returning from a serious injury halfway through the season. Morant was incredible, pushing the Memphis Grizzlies to a playoff spot, but Zion was transcendent, playing some of the best basketball we’ve ever seen, and showing from day one why his talent was so in-demand.
There was some precedent for a race like this. Malcolm Brogdon, then of the Milwaukee Bucks, won the 2016-2017 NBA Rookie of the Year award over Joel Embiid. Brogdon, a second-round pick, had been good that season, playing a decent amount of minutes for a good Bucks team, and scoring 10 points per game.Embiid, by contrast, only played 31 games, but was dominant in those games, putting up 20 points per game on around 25 minutes per game. A controversy developed over how to evaluate a race like this: Embiid was clearly the better player, but in order to be the Rookie of the Year, shouldn’t you have to play more than half the games in that year?
This year’s race was similar, but there were some notable differences. First things first, Ja Morant was a better player in his rookie year than Brogdon was, by far. While Brogdon was a complementary piece on a good team, Morant has turned a bad team into a decent one, in year one, with himself as the engine.It’s rare that rookies are positive NBA players at all, and it’s rarer still that they are the best players on a team, but Morant has done this.
Rookie Of The Year Winners Who Were Drafted First Overall
Many Rookies of the Year winners were the first pick in the NBA Draft. Below, you can find a table of all of the Rookie of the Year winners who were drafted first overall in the NBA Draft. You’ll probably recognize a lot of names on this list, from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (under his given name, Lew Alcindor) to Shaquille O’Neal to Lebron James.
- 2017–18 Ben Simmons
- 2015–16 Karl-Anthony Towns
- 2014–15 Andrew Wiggins
- 2011–12 Kyrie Irving
- 2010–11 Blake Griffin
- 2008–09 Derrick Rose
- 2003–04 LeBron James
- 1999–00 Elton Brand
- 1996–97 Allen Iverson
- 1993–94 Chris Webber
- 1992–93 Shaquille O'Neal
- 1991–92 Larry Johnson
- 1990–91 Derrick Coleman
- 1989–90 David Robinson
- 1985–86 Patrick Ewing
- 1983–84 Ralph Sampson
- 1969–70 Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
- 1961–62 Walt Bellamy
- 1958–59 Elgin Baylor
- 1953–54 Ray Felix
The first overall pick has defined generations of basketball, and a lot of the time, that talent is immediately on display, and they win the Rookie of the Year award.
Lowest Draft Picks To Win Rookie Of The Year
Only six times in the NBA’s history has a player outside of the top ten in the draft (excluding territorial drafts) won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. The lowest ever picked NBA Rookie of the Year is Woody Sauldsberry, who was picked in the eighth round of the 1957 NBA Draft. The only second-round pick to ever win the Rookie of the Year award is Malcolm Brogdon, who was picked 36th in the 2016 Draft, and whose Rookie of the Year campaign was very unique. His biggest competitor for the award, Joel Embiid, was unable to stay healthy and the rest of his rookie class underperformed, allowing the NBA ready Brogdon, who was 24 in his rookie year, to come in and snap up the award.
Mark Jackson is the lowest picked player to win the award who was still picked in the first round, having been picked at 18th in the 1987 Draft. Jackson is perhaps most famous now for being one of ESPN’s commentators on the game, with his patented phrase “Hand down, man down.” Finally, there are three players who were picked just outside of the top 10 – Don Meineke (12) in 1952, Jamaal Wilkes (11) in 1974 and Michael Carter-Williams (11) in 2013.
|Player||Draft Position||Year Of Draft|
|Woody Sauldsberry||60 (Eighth Round)||1957|
There are some names that bear mentioning here as well, due to the Territorial Draft Picks. Basically, back in the day, the NBA allowed teams to draft players that were from the area the team was located in, at the cost of a loss of their first-round draft pick. Four players who won Rookie of the Year were selected via this process: Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Tommy Heinsohn and Jerry Lucas. Since these picks were conveyed via forfeiture of a first round pick, it is impossible to say where exactly those players would have gone in the draft were they not drafted via this system.
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