2022 NBA Rookie of the Year Prediction, Sleeper Picks, & Award Odds

Last Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Although we’re only one month into the 2021-22 NBA season, the circumstances of the Rookie of the Year award race have changed quite dramatically.

When we first checked in on these lines, the betting favorites mostly followed suit with draft order. As such, No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham had the best odds to win the award. However, that’s no longer the case.

Slow starts have gotten the best of some of the most hyped rookies in the 2021 class, while other under-the-radar prospects have skyrocketed up the board on account of their consistent play and eye-popping highlights.

One thing is for sure: This year’s rookie class is full of great talent. The award races are always fun to pay attention to, but this category looks like it’ll be especially exciting to track throughout the season.

To help you sort out your favorite betting picks and players, we’ve compiled a list of sleepers to win the award, as well as our choice to take home the hardware at the end of the season.

All NBA gameday odds are current as of Thursday, November 18 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

2022 NBA Rookie of The Year Sleeper Bets

Scottie Barnes, PF, Toronto Raptors (+250) at Caesars

Scottie Barnes‘ NBA career has gotten off to a terrific start. Not only does the 19-year-old lead the rookie class in scoring at 16.3 points per game, but he already looks the part of a two-way star.

Barnes is a hyper-versatile defender, possessing both the necessarily length and speed to effectively guard any position. He’s not defending the opposing team’s worst player each night, either — in a game against the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season, Barnes racked up five steals and spent ample time on Kevin Durant and James Harden.

He simply seems to have an edge that many others in his class do not, and that should only help him over the course of his career.

Even if he doesn’t end up winning the Rookie of the Year award, Barnes looks as though he’ll be an essential piece for the Toronto Raptors for years to come — especially as the NBA continues to move toward a positionless style of play.

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Cade Cunningham, PG, Detroit Pistons (+375) at Caesars

As the preseason favorite to be named Rookie of the Year, Cade Cunningham entered the league with sky-high expectations.

An ankle injury suffered in training camp delayed his debut and likely played a role in his slow start, but the No. 1 overall pick is beginning to show why he garnered so much attention in the first place.

After shooting a mere 23.2% in his first four appearances, Cunningham has dialed things up a notch and started to see his shot fall. Over his last five, Cunningham is averaging 16 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field and 34.2% from beyond the arc.

His highlight performance of the season came on November 15, when Cunningham tallied 25 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists and went 5-11 from deep in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

His current Rookie of the Year odds are clearly a reflection of his poor start to the season, but oddsmakers are likely putting too much stock into it. As of this writing, Cunningham has appeared in less than 10 NBA games, and his ankle injury was still affecting him in the first few.

If his most recent performances are an indication of what’s to come, Cunningham won’t be playing catch-up much longer.

Chris Duarte, SG, Indiana Pacers (+2000) at TwinSpires

For as strong as this year’s draft class has looked so far, it’s been particularly weak when it comes to three-point shooting. Seven of the top nine rookie scorers are connecting on fewer than 31% of their looks from beyond the arc.

Pacers guard Chris Duarte is the only member of the bunch converting more than 40% from deep — on 5.5 attempts per game, no less — further cementing his status as the best shooter in the class.

However, Duarte’s efficient shooting isn’t the only reason he’s become a sneaky betting pick. Indiana has already shown that it trusts the 24-year-old in big moments, often leaving him on the floor late in close games. So far, the rookie has logged at least 31 minutes in 10 of his 14 appearances.

He’ll need to continue improving over the course of the season to truly put himself in position to be named Rookie of the Year, but his strong start and ability to score at a moment’s notice are both good signs of things to come.

2022 NBA Rookie of The Year Prediction

Evan Mobley, C, Cleveland Cavaliers (+250) at Caesars

Despite going No. 3 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Evan Mobley was a bit neglected as a preseason Rookie of the Year pick. In mid-October, he could be had for (+1000) odds at DraftKings.

One month later, Mobley has emerged as the odds-on favorite at virtually every sportsbook. So what’s happened, exactly?

Part of it likely has to do with Cleveland’s surprising start. Widely expected to be one of the worst teams in the league, the Cavaliers won nine of their first 14 games and have sat in the upper half of the Eastern Conference standings all year long. Considering they went 22-50 last season, this has been quite the turnaround.

Mobley is a big reason why Cleveland has been able to surpass expectations to this point. On top of being the best defender in his class, Mobley has a tangible impact on the offensive end of the floor as well. The big man is converting 72.7% of his attempts at the rim and he’s started to show off his touch from three-point range as well.

Everything Mobley is doing is sustainable. As long as he can stay healthy for a majority of the season, he’ll be a safe pick to win the Rookie of the Year award. Put some money on him now and make this your NBA bet of the day.

Thanks for reading our 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year Predictions! For more NBA futures bets, check out our NBA MVP Predictions.


Garrett Chorpenning

Garrett Chorpenning is the Lead NBA Editor for The Game Day. His previous work includes covering the LA Clippers for Sports Illustrated and FanSided. He graduated from Ball State University in 2021.

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