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How Zion Williamson’s Injury Has Affected His NBA ROY Odds

| October 30, 2019 11:36 pm PDT
Updated NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

The 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year race was over before it ever began. Zion Williamson had exploded as the best player in college basketball.

A lock to go #1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft (and he did), Williamson was the natural favorite to win the hardware in his first year in The Association.

That is, until a random knee injury put him on the shelf for the first 6-8 weeks of his rookie campaign.

The top NBA betting sites scrambled to change the odds. Williamson was no longer a lock to take home the ROY trophy and if he misses even more time later in the year (or struggles to regain form when he returns), he may end up actually being a terrible bet.

I was one of the many advocates for betting on Zion Williamson to win Rookie of the Year for the longest time. Sadly, that’s not necessarily the case anymore.

But like most sports wagers, context is everything. Let’s dive into the latest NBA Rookie of the Year betting odds and see how bettors should approach this wager.

2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

It’s likely bettors can ignore the bottom half of these 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year odds. For example, the Indiana Pacers have been pretty forthright about Goga Bitadze not being ready to contribute.

That, and Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis provided clear blockage from useful minutes.

This is the case for many of the rookies shown above, while guys like Nickeil Alexander-Walker just don’t look prepared to carry an offense. It also doesn’t help that he and Jaxson Hayes are rookies on the same team as Zion Williamson.

Instead of going big, sports bettors are best off targeting some of the top Rookie of the Year favorites. That’s something that will be subjective in some regards, but right now the best bets to win this award include Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett.

This is the main trio bettors need to look at. While true, it may not be easy to project which rookie will actually win this award, or if some Rookie of the Year sleepers might be worth betting on.

NBA Rookie of the Year Sleepers

Once you get past the top three options – which happen to have the best overall ROY odds – you can start considering second tier options like Coby White and Rui Hachimura. However, I’m not even sure I’d place those guys ahead of some of the other interesting NBA Rookie of the Year sleepers.

Hachimura’s game isn’t exactly consistent and he’s on a Wizards team that is going to be awful. Coby White has flashed brilliance as a scorer, but unless he’s handed the starting point guard job, it’s quite arguable he simply doesn’t have a path to truly earn ROY honors.

Instead of betting on these two guys, I’m looking for a little more value. Here are three names that stand out as viable NBA Rookie of the Year sleepers right now:

Tyler Herro, SG, Miami Heat

Herro was a star during NBA Summer League and blew up even more during Miami’s preseason games. After taking on a starting role with Jimmy Butler away from the team for the birth of his child, Herro has put up 12 points and six rebounds per game.

Herro’s shooting (26% from three, 38% overall) hasn’t been good, but he showcases his diverse scoring ability before the regular season. In theory, if he can retain a starting gig, he could improve over the course of the season and be a sleeper threat to win ROY.

Darius Garland, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

Garland offers a little more upside than Herro. Not only is he the more talented player overall, but his scoring and playmaking could lock him into a starting role with the Cavs.

Collin Sexton is a more established scorer at this point, but Garland projects as the better pure point guard. The Cavs are likely to give him numerous chances to take over this offense and if he can make that happen, he could return serious value for prospective bettors.

PJ Washington, PF, Charlotte Hornets

Lastly, let’s not sleeper on Hornets rookie big man, PJ Washington. Charlotte is going to be horrendous this year, but Washington has made an impact, averaging 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game at the time of this writing.

More importantly, Washington is spacing the floor (50% from deep!) and has shown no fear in being a top scoring option this growing Hornets team will look to. I wasn’t blown away with his game coming into this past summer’s draft, but the kid is just rock solid.

And he’s already catching the eye of the opposition.

With a starting gig locked up, Washington could really gain steam as a viable Rookie of the Year bet and that could make his +2000 price tag a steal.

I’m still somewhat interested in the likes of Hunter, Reddish, Culver and Clarke – especially since these guys already have roles and offer killer betting value. But we often need to treat the NBA Rookie of the Year betting process with care and as I write this updated look at this betting market, these guys don’t feel like legit threats.

Who Will Win the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year?

While I am all for taking a few shots on 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year sleepers or even a longshot bet here or there. But for the most part, it may be wise to stick with three of the most talented options that also happen to offer the best NBA ROY odds.

Where bettors can get cute is deciding what to do with Zion Williamson.

The Duke alum looked fantastic during the preseason; there’s no getting around that. If he can make a successful return from his knee injury and be that guy – and then some – then he’s an insane value bet for a wager he was always pegged to run away with.

But starting the year off with a knee injury is a bad omen. Joel Embiid proved a few years back that talent doesn’t always trump opportunity. He was a smash pick to win NBA ROY, but he missed too many games and ended up losing out to Malcolm Brogdon.

That’s something we all need to consider. And while it may be rash to say Zion Williamson will be a bust (may), Williamson is certainly getting off on the wrong foot here. He’s already going to be behind the 8-ball, which means he probably can’t afford much rust or anymore missed time.

Just like that, I’m really only looking at Morant and Barrett.

When picking between these two, efficiency is what divides them. Neither play for good teams, but they are the focal points of their respective franchises and they’ll have the ball in their hands more often than not.

It’s honestly a much closer call than most would care to admit, but Morant is the superior talent and proved to be more efficient in college. I like what I’ve seen from Barrett to this point, but the scoring and assist upside still resides with Morant.

If Morant can somehow lead his Memphis Grizzlies to a better season than expected, he may be the new lock to win the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year award.

  • Ja Morant
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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