- Bovada has updated odds on who will win 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year
- Zion Williamson (-130) is the overwhelming favorite to claim the award
- Ja Morant (+450) and RJ Barrett (+550) are also top contenders for the honor
What happens when the no. 1 overall draft pick and summer chalk-pick (-155) to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award turns in the most-statistically-dominant preseason a rookie has ever had?
Well, naturally, he becomes an even heavier favorite to take home the hardware, according to the latest odds at Bovada.
Zion Williamson is easily the most-hyped player to enter the league since LeBron James, but is his ROY candidacy so bullet-proof that he’s worth paying up for at -130? Let’s discuss some of the top contenders.
Odds to Win 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year
|Zion Williamson (Pelicans)||-130|
|Ja Morant (Grizzlies)||+450|
|RJ Barrett (Knicks)||+550|
|Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets)||+1600|
|Darius Garland (Cavaliers)||+1800|
|Tyler Herro (Heat)||+2000|
|Jarrett Culver (Timberwolves)||+2500|
|DeAndre Hunter (Hawks)||+2500|
Historically, just 13 of the 34 lottery-era no. 1 picks went on to win Rookie of the Year, with the last one being the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015.
But, Zion isn’t just any no. 1 pick, obviously. This fantastic read from The Ringer puts Williamson’s dominant preseason into proper historical context.
The Unbelievability of Zion Williamson https://t.co/S1jZmoEs28 via @ringer
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 15, 2019
Through four games, the 19-year-old Pelicans’ forward is averaging 23.3 points per game; the highest preseason effort by a rookie since David Robinson’s 24.9 in 1989-90.
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound bulldozer is also shooting 71.4 percent from the field, scoring 68 of his 93 points in the paint (an average of 22.5 points in the paint per 36 minutes). The only player to average 20 points in the paint per 36 minutes in the regular season since 1996-97 is Shaquille O’Neal.
While preseason stats should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s worth noting that no. 1 overall picks since 2006 have increased their collective 13.1 PPG preseason scoring average to 16 PPG in the regular season.
Zion Williamson goes head-to-head with Rudy Gobert and other takeaways from the Pelicans’ preseason win vs. the Jazz https://t.co/5TvBOJsMqo
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) October 12, 2019
If Zion increases his 23.3 proportionally, that would put him at 28.4 PPG in the regular season— the best rookie scoring average in 50 years.
Memphis’ no. 2-overall-pick Ja Morant is also making noise in the preseason, averaging 13.4 assists per 36 minutes.
In addition to being a gifted passer, the 20-year-old point guard was a proven point-producer in the NCAA, averaging 24 PPG for Murray State last season.
Canadian RJ Barrett will have plenty of opportunities to pile up points on a rebuilding Knicks squad, but he hasn’t been nearly as efficient as his former Duke teammate in the preseason. The 6-foot-7 combo guard only shot 4-for-14 on Wednesday night versus the Hawks.
RJ Barrett is proving he can run the Knicks’ offense well. ??#NewYorkForever #Knicks pic.twitter.com/bXbo4wCJbM
— Knicks Nation (@KnicksNationCP) October 16, 2019
While Barrett averaged lofty totals for the Blue Devils (22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists), the 19-year-old has a streaky outside shot and has always struggled with tunnel vision.
Further down the list at +2000, Miami rookie Tyler Herro is drawing comparisons to Klay Thompson after a strong summer league and a hot start to the preseason.
The no. 13 overall pick from the University of Kentucky, who has reportedly been deemed untouchable by the Heat, is hitting 53.3 percent of his 3-point attempts and averaging 16.3 points per game through three preseason games.
Herro is a strong longshot to pair with a safe bet on Zion.