- BetOnline favors No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham (+275) to win 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year
- Jalen Green (+500) says he might have been drafted first overall if he played college basketball
- Evan Mobley (+550) is looking to become the first center to win the award since Emeka Okafor in 2005
After being the first player off the board in the 2021 NBA Draft, Detroit Pistons point guard Cade Cunningham seems like the obvious choice for Rookie of the Year. Keep in mind, however, that the No. 1 overall pick has not taken home the award in each of the past three seasons and claimed the honor in only three of the past 10 campaigns.
2021-22 Rookie of the Year Odds
Cunningham leads the field
Cade Cunningham (+275) averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists in his one college season for Oklahoma State while shooting 40% from three-point range. The 6-foot-8 guard should have all the playing time he needs to rack up statistics across all categories as four of the Pistons six leaders in minutes per game from last season are gone.
Is there concern Cunningham will be playing on what should be a terrible Detroit team? Not really. Traditionally, Rookie of the Year winners go to the players who compile the best stats. Team wins/losses aren’t a factor.
New era in Detroit 🔥
— ESPN (@espn) July 30, 2021
Rockets guard Jalen Green (+500) and Cavaliers center Evan Mobley (+550) were next off the board last Thursday, so it’s no surprise to see them directly behind Cunningham here as well. Green says he would’ve been the No. 1 overall pick if he went to college instead of playing against grown men in the G-League. The 6-foot-5 guard is probably the best pure scorer in the 2021 NBA Draft, but he doesn’t have as clear a path to touches on a Houston team with John Wall, Christian Wood and three other first-round picks.
Given that big men face a steeper learning curve in the NBA, it’s best to fade the 7-foot Mobley in the short term. Karl-Anthony Towns was the last big-man to win the award (2016) and you have to go all the way back to 2005 and Emeka Okafor to find a center who claimed the honor.
NBA ROY Longshots
At No. 4 overall, the Toronto Raptors passed on Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (+750) in favor of athletic Florida State forward Scottie Barnes (+800), but Suggs’ poise and decision-making makes him the better ROY bet. Key to him winning the award will be the Orlando Magic moving one of Markelle Fultz or Cole Anthony this offseason to clear up some back-court minutes for the 6-foot-4 playmaker. Similarly, Barnes’ chances will be boosted if the Raptors deal Pascal Siakam this summer.
Alperen Sengun averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds as an 18-year-old in Europe, but the Turkish teenager still seems overvalued at +1600 considering his age, position and glut of front court options in Houston. Instead, we prefer James Bouknight (+1200) playing alongside reigning NBA Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball. If the UConn product improves his outside shooting, the Charlotte Hornets will be one of the most fun NBA League Pass teams to watch.
From Gonzaga to the Magic.
Jalen Suggs goes No. 5 overall to Orlando ✨ pic.twitter.com/fov09LFk4x
— ESPN (@espn) July 30, 2021
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