- BetOnline has released opening odds on who will win 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year
- Zion Williamson (-155) is the overwhelming favorite to win the award
- Ja Morant (+333) and RJ Barrett (+450) are also top contenders for the honor
Zion Williamson is the most hyped player to enter the NBA since LeBron James, but does that make him a lock to win Rookie of the Year?
Historically, just 13 of the 34 lottery-era No. 1 picks went on to win the award, with the last one being the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015. Let’s look at the odds at BetOnline and evaluate all the top contenders for the honor.
Odds to Win 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year
|Zion Williamson (Pelicans)||-155|
|Ja Morant (Grizzlies)||+333|
|RJ Barrett (Knicks)||+450|
|Darius Garland (Cavaliers)||+1500|
|DeAndre Hunter (Hawks)||+1800|
|Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets)||+1800|
*All odds taken 07/09/19
The Favorite: Zion Williamson
The 6-foot-7, 285-pound forward dominated in his summer league debut before leaving for “precautionary reasons”. It’s hard to imagine Zion not being the NBA’s best first-year player, but keep in mind that no pre-season favorite for Rookie of the Year has won the award since Kevin Durant in 2007-08.
Williamson burst into the national spotlight last year, averaging 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds for Duke, and his Nike shoe explosion generated more headlines than the moon landing.
That’s a GROWN MAN MOVE, @Zionwilliamson! ??
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 6, 2019
Unlike most top picks, he’ll suit up for a competitive Pelicans team with guard Jrue Holiday and the three young former Lakers (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart) acquired in the Anthony Davis deal.
Zion’s mix of raw power and rim-rocking dunks make him the man to beat, but his poor outside shooting could be the one chink in his armor.
The Small Schooler: Ja Morant
While Zion became a brand name early in the year, most Americans were introduced to Ja Morant during March Madness when the Murray State point guard put up a triple-double in a first round upset over Marquette.
Drafted no. 2 overall to Memphis, Morant averaged 24 points, 10 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals in his sophomore year, showcasing a well-rounded game.
— Grizzlies Nation (@GrizNationCP) July 9, 2019
While the 19-year-old did most of his damage against sub-par competition in the Ohio State Valley Conference, he also didn’t have the benefit of playing with stars teammates such as RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish.
The hyper-athletic 6-foot-3 guard’s jaw-dropping dunking ability could help him steal some headlines from Zion.
The Canadian: RJ Barrett
Summer league did not get off to a great start for the Knicks’ no. 3 overall pick. In a sloppy first two games, Barrett shot 7-for-33 with way more turnovers (10) than assists (2).
The 6-foot-7 combo guard is blessed with a strong build and an alpha’s scoring mentality, but he’s also a bit of a ball hog. Who could forget the Blue Devils’ Elite 8 loss to Michigan State when he took over on Duke’s final three possessions, leaving Williamson without a shot in the final 1:41 of the game.
RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox need some help with their chopsticks ??
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 9, 2019
Still, the 19-year-old has been described as a future star by Coach K and his international experience playing for Canada’s national team may give him a leg-up in his first season in the league.