- Bovada still has injured star Zion Williamson (+200) favored to win 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year
- Ja Morant (+325) and RJ Barrett (+350) have seen their odds shorten after strong starts to their careers
- Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn (+700) has emerged as a contender after seemingly coming out of nowhere
Just days after posting our Rookie of the Year odds primer came news that prohibitive favorite Zion Williamson would miss the first two months of the season with a knee injury.
While the 6-foot-6, 285-pound forward is expected to make his debut before the end of 2019, many are now pondering whether the transcendent talent is too tubby to handle the wear and tear of an NBA schedule.
The oddsmakers at Bovada are not among those people, listing Zion as a 2/1 favorite to win the award despite hot starts by other star rookies. Let’s take a look at the contenders.
ODDS TO WIN 2020 NBA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
|Zion Williamson (Pelicans)||+200|
|Ja Morant (Grizzlies)||+325|
|RJ Barrett (Knicks)||+350|
|Kendrick Nunn (Heat)||+700|
|Rui Hachimura (Wizards)||+900|
|Tyler Herro (Heat)||+1000|
|Coby White (Bulls)||+1600|
|Darius Garland (Cavaliers)||+2000|
|DeAndre Hunter (Hawks)||+3300|
In what was likely the greatest rookie preseason performance of all time, Zion averaged 23.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 71.4 percent from the field in four games.
So, if you’re wagering on Zion, the question isn’t whether he will be the NBA’s best first-year player, but whether he can stay healthy.
Zion Williamson almost knocked out Jaxson Hayes with his celebration ? pic.twitter.com/P33kN4Jhtv
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 1, 2019
The man who drafted Williamson, David Griffin, was recently quoted saying, “The notion that this (injury) happened because Zion is in poor condition is asinine…That’s not what it is. He’s just a very unique body type.”
If you’re comfortable with Zion’s “unique body type”, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try to double your money with a bet on the most-hyped prospect since King James.
JA MORANT or RJ BARRETT?
The Grizzlies and Knicks have very different approaches to handling the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks in the draft.
While Memphis is attempting to keep Morant fresh by playing him under 30 minutes a game, Barrett is averaging over 37 minutes per contest, topping 40 twice this season.
Ja Morant tried to murder a man and nearly died ? pic.twitter.com/wko0AOpUk2
— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) November 5, 2019
The 19-year-old Canadian could already be slowing down, with his points, rebounds and shooting percentages all taking a drastic hit over the past three games.
Meanwhile, the Murray State product has made a seamless transition to the league, averaging 19.5 points and 5.5 assists on 53.4 percent shooting and 50.0 percent from three-point range.
More importantly, Morant has looked the part of a future superstar, displaying Russell Westbrook-like athleticism while making fans of LeBron’s kids. If you’re worried about Zion’s knees, place a bet on the Grizzlies guard at +325.
WHO IS THIS KENDRICK NUNN GUY?
Kendrick Nunn set records for most points scored by an undrafted rookie in his first five games of the NBA season and most points by a Heat rookie in his first five games.
It would be an underdog story worth rooting for if it wasn’t for the fact that the 24-year-old guard only went under-the-radar because he was booted out of the University Illinois for committing domestic abuse.
Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro have combined for 194 points this season.
The only pair of rookie teammates with more points through the team’s first 5 games of a season were Wilt Chamberlain and Joe Ruklick in 1959. Wilt accounted for 182 of the duo’s 196 points. @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/KdJwJF8OaV
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 1, 2019
Still, several teams were telling ESPN’s Zach Lowe that they were “kicking themselves” for passing on Nunn after he became the first rookie to score 100+ points in his first five games since Kevin Durant in 2007.
However, Nunn has crashed back to earth recently, scoring just 5 and 11 points in his past two games. So, while I hope you added him to your fantasy roster, he’s not a strong value at +700.