NBA Rookie of the Year Bets
James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors (+500)
James Wiseman is a polarizing player across-the-board. Savvy draft analysts on Twitter hate him and typical NBA minds love him. He’s the prototypical big man and as we know, that has been fazed out by the league. It’s not that anyone over seven-feet tall is unplayable but if they can’t either space the floor with plus shooting or defend the rim and perimeter at a high-level - they might as well be. Wiseman’s game (from what we’ve seen) is largely predicated on finishing at the rim, rebounding, and a solid mid-range jumper. He is willing to move out to three and shoot but how comfortable he is there is yet to be seen. Wiseman can accrue blocks along with picking the occasional steal to stuff the stat-sheet. He will be a fan-favorite for his numbers and the Warriors will essentially force him into the lineup to develop him and justify the pick. They do not have much else to play over him given their depth and probably do not win enough this season to move on if he is not an immediate impact player. Wiseman is rightfully a favorite for the NBA’s 2020-2021 Rookie of the Year and a great bet at +500.
Obi Toppin, New York Knicks (+550)
Wth the 8th overall pick in the NBA Draft, the Knicks selected the hometown boy Obi Toppin and will jam him into the lineup this season. They are projected to have one of the worst records in the NBA once again and are unlikely to retain Julius Randle beyond this season. It is possible they move off of Randle, Toppin’s only real blockade sooner, rather than later. The Knicks are an extremely young team with a new front office and head coach. While Tom Thibodeau is not a fan of rookies, there will be pressure from arguably the worst owner in sports to play Toppin even if he is not providing Thibodeau’s biggest bugaboo with players, defense. Toppin can absolutely stuff the stat-sheet and kind of shoot threes. He can replicate a typical Julius Randle stat-line while providing hope given his “potential".
Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons (+900)
The Detroit Pistons made maybe one competent offseason move and that was selecting Killian Hayes with the 7th pick. Hayes is a superb guard prospect who projects well at either the one or the two. He can ball handle, defend, shoot, and finish well. Hayes is essentially a jack-of-all-trades while we must wait-and-see which he masters given that he is still just a teenager. The Pistons retained Derrick Rose over this past offseason when there were rumors of his trade prospects since last season’s trade deadline. However, given that Rose only has one year left on his deal and is of no use to a poor Pistons’ roster, the likelihood he gets moved this season is high. The Pistons also brought in swing-guard Delon Wright this offseason but given that Wright is more of an off-ball type of player, Hayes should benefit from playing alongside him given that Wright can take on tougher defensive assignments and move around to get open. Hayes’s efficiency will determine how successful he is as a rookie because the ball will be in his hands plenty.
Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings (+1500)
Tyrese Haliburton should not have dropped to the Kings, but it is a perfect fit nonetheless. Haliburton is a skilled two-way guard who works best off-ball and will have plenty of opportunities to move freely alongside De’Aaron Fox. Haliburton was a productive college player who was efficient from two and three point range. He finishes and shoots very well. With Bogdan Bogdanovic out of town, Haliburton will have opportunities to contribute from Day 1. If he plays well enough as a rookie, the chances that the Kings move on from disgruntled sixth-man, Buddy Hield, will increase.
Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers (+2000)
The Cavaliers made a solid choice in selecting Isaac Okoro given their need on the wing and the stable talent he possesses. Okoro projects as a fantastic wing-defender and should play plenty from the jump. Unfortunately, he is not an intuitive scorer or ball-handler yet but has plenty of room to grow there. He showed a good bit of development this past preseason where he was essentially inserted into the starting lineup from the jump. Okoro does not have much competition for playing time and given that the Cavs selected him as high as 5th overall, the opportunities will be plentiful. If Kevin Love gets hurt again or is moved for parts, Okoro’s usage should rise dramatically as Cleveland experiments with their roster more.
Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls (+2200)
The Bulls made a fascinating choice at 4th overall selecting Patrick Williams. Williams did not start a single game in his lone season at Florida State given how talented that roster was but absolutely made an impact. While he would seemingly project as more of a big at the NBA level, the Bulls are going to try out Williams at the three, as they have through the preseason. Williams is definitely capable of stuffing the stat-sheet but will be away from the rim when alongside the starters, several of which will be high-usage players, particularly at guard. If the Bulls move Lauri Markkanen mid-season, I would label Williams as a front-runner for the award but until that happens, it’s best to just view this as more of a long-shot.
Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic (+3300)
Cole Anthony went from projected top-two pick out of high school to out of the lottery after a tumultuous freshman season on a bad North Carolina roster. Too much of the load was Anthony’s to bear and he managed to get hurt in the process. Anthony was not comfortable before, or after his foot injury and was wise to sit out the rest of a lost season. He landed in as good a spot as possible with Orlando given their lack of guard depth and need for shooting. Anthony might not be a net positive in terms of impact given the deficiencies on defense but if the Magic put the ball in his hands, he will find ways to score and distribute. Anthony is a great pick at there odds given pedigree and post-hype status.
Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs (+5000)
The Spurs cannot continue getting away with this. Devin Vassell is a future stud at wing and has as good a landing spot as possible given the Spurs’ need and their ability to develop. Vassell was a productive player at Florida State as a freshman in limited minutes and went under-the-radar until his breakout sophomore season. While his scoring numbers in college weren’t high, Vassell presents a versatile piece that can swing between the two and three to defend multiple positions and score from various sectors of the floor. The Spurs don’t typically unleash rookies but with how nice Vassell has looked throughout the preseason, this may be an exception for their flawed roster.
James Wiseman (+500)
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