With the National Basketball Association’s Draft complete, our friends at Bovada have graciously provided us with their odds on what rookies have the best chance of winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
My goal is to give you my thoughts on who I like, who I don’t and why. With NBA Free Agency pending, I recognize that could impact the play of these young men so bear that in mind as I proceed. Let’s break’em down.
Andrew Wiggins 13/2 – Wiggins was the number one overall pick in the draft last Thursday night by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The top pick is typically picked to be the favorite to win the award because in most scenarios, he ends up being the best player on the team immediately. Already in Cleveland is Kyrie Irving and until Higgins proves otherwise, Irving will be the best player for the Cavs.
Of course should the wild rumor about LeBron James returning to the Cavs happen then Higgins becomes number three. Can he win the award? Absolutely, but I think a RoY winner needs to be a guy that scores and creates night after night highlights and I’m not sure Higgins will have the opportunities his competitors will.
Jabari Parker 3/1 – Parker heads to Milwaukee and could find himself in the opposite position of Wiggins in that he may be ‘the man’ right away. We could argue that Parker has a much bigger responsibility in front of him. The franchise in Milwaukee is desperate for a winner. Yes, Cleveland needs a winner too, but they were at least respectable in recent years.
The other very recent factor on whether I like Parker to win the RoY Award or not is his head coach. There has been lots of discussion about Milwaukee getting Brooklyn Head Coach Jason Kidd in a trade. Regardless of whether Kidd is the coach or not, I think Parker has an excellent chance to win because more will be expected of him.
Julius Randle 9/1 – I really like Randle especially heading to Los Angeles where he is going to be around not only Kobe Bryant but lots of championship trophies as well. My question for Randle is where will his best fit be? Is he better suited as a three or a four in the NBA? Much of that will be answered depending upon what the Lakers do in free agency.
Because Randle has a really nice, balanced game, I think he has good shot at winning.
Dante Exum 10/1 – If you’re looking for a wild-card, here he is. Exum is an Australian point guard who is extremely talented but is he proven? He has played internationally, but how will that translate to the NBA? Either way, I think Utah is getting a very good player here from what I’ve seen.
Marcus Smart 12/1 – Here’s another guy I like because of his length and all-around game. Smart plays fantastic defense and is aggressive offensively. I’m curious to see if the Celtics keep Rajon Rondo with Smart on the roster.
Shabazz Napier 12/1 – Napier willed the UConn Huskies to the national title in April and now he will get a chance to play the point for Miami. There are lots of people who think he could be the type of catalyst the Heat needs to take the pressure off LeBron should he return. I don’t see Napier winning the RoY Award but I think he’ll have a very good rookie campaign.
Who Wins? - Obviously there is much that will go down between now and the start of the season, but right now I think Parker, Exum and Smart are your guys simply because I think they have the best opportunities to score and be the main focus of their teams.