NBA Rookie Of The Year Odds: Cade Cunningham An Unsurprising Early Favorite

Posted By Mo Nuwwarah on July 29, 2021

As the NBA Draft unfolds on Thursday, one question will linger in the minds of viewers: Which NBA rookies in 2022 have the best chance of winning Rookie of the Year?

Odds markets that attempt to answer that very question are now open. Both DraftKings Sportsbook and BetMGM Sportsbook have posted some lines. While the full picture of everyone’s chance won’t become clear until we know which teams they play for, it’s worth taking an early look and seeing what stands out.

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2022 NBA Rookie Of The Year Odds

Game
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
Cade Cunningham
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+250
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+250
Jalen Green
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+275
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+300
Evan Mobley
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+800
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+800
Jalen Suggs
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+700
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+750
Scottie Barnes
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+1200
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+800
Alperen Sengun
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+1200
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+1400
Davion Mitchell
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+1800
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+1800
James Bouknight
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+2800
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+2500
Jonathan Kuminga
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+2800
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+2500
Josh Giddey
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+3000
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+3000
Jalen Johnson
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+3000
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+3000
Franz Wagner
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+3500
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+3500
Ayo Dosunmu
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+4500
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+4000
Corey Kispert
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+4500
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+5000
Keon Johnson
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+4000
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+3500
Cam Thomas
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+4500
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+5000
Chris Duarte
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+3000
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+3500

In a wholly unsurprising turn, presumptive No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham ranks as the favorite among 2022 NBA rookies to bring home Rookie of the Year.

Cunningham, a ball handling wing out of Oklahoma State, should be Detroit’s second scoring option after Jerami Grant. That would likely confer on him considerable opportunity to rack up stats. With Detroit in rebuilding mode, he should have the freedom to play through mistakes. DK has him +250 in the early market while he’s +275 at BetMGM.

After Cunningham, there’s a four-player tier between about +400 and +800. Jalen GreenEvan MobleyJalen Suggs and Scottie Barnes are expected to be the next four picks in some order. They all figure to play decent roles as rookies, but Barnes’ scouting report notably paints him as a better real-life player than stat accumulator. Historically, racking up numbers outweighs playing solid defense when it comes to awards like ROY. Mobley and Suggs also bring considerable value on defense, while Green possesses more potential shot creation and scoring.

After that, the longer shots start with Davion Mitchell and James Bouknight (+1600 and +1800, respectively, at BetMGM). Other notables in the lower tier include Franz Wagner (+3000 on DK) and Alperen Sengun (+5000 on BetMGM). Wagner has a pro-ready two-way game and Sengun was a statistical monster in a top European league. Those players have translated very well of late.

What Does History Tell Us?

Historically speaking, the most production in the draft has overwhelmingly come from the No. 1 pick. Numerous studies have shown the NBA Draft skews very lopsided– things fall off very quickly after the top few picks.

A 2019 study showed the difference between pick No. 1 and pick No. 5 (by win shares per 48 minutes) averages about the same as the difference between No. 5 and No. 20. FiveThirtyEight also showed the win shares produced flattens out significantly outside the top 10.

Unfortunately, that appears to be reflected in the markets, but keep it in mind when parsing through the longer shots.

As for which draft picks have produced specifically ROY winners, here’s a look at the last 20 years of the award:

SeasonPlayerTeamPick
2020-21LaMelo BallCharlotte Hornets3
2019-20Ja MorantMemphis Grizzlies2
2018-19Luka DoncicDallas Mavericks3
2017-18Ben SimmonsPhiladelphia 76ers1
2016-17Malcolm BrogdonMilwaukee Bucks36
2015-16Karl-Anthony TownsMinnesota Timberwolves1
2014-15Andrew WigginsMinnesota Timberwolves1
2013-14Michael Carter-WilliamsPhiladelphia 76ers11
2012-13Damian LillardPortland Trail Blazers6
2011-12Kyrie IrvingCleveland Cavaliers1
2010-11Blake GriffinLA Clippers1
2009-10Tyreke EvansSacramento Kings4
2008-09Derrick RoseChicago Bulls1
2007-08Kevin DurantSeattle SuperSonics2
2006-07Brandon RoyPortland Trail Blazers6
2005-06Chris PaulNew Orleans Hornets4
2004-05Emeka OkaforCharlotte Bobcats2
2003-04LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers1
2002-03Amar'e StoudemirePhoenix Suns9
2001-02Paul GasolMemphis Grizzlies3

Just two Rookies of the Year were selected outside the top 10. One of those, Malcolm Brogdon doubles as the only second-round pick to win. Both won in exceptionally weak years for rookie production.

A vast majority (15 of 20) were top-four picks. The mean selection is 4.9, but take out Brogdon and it becomes 3.26. History sends a clear message: focus on only the top handful of picks.

Also, be sure to keep in mind how NBA free agency can change things. If you have your eye on a player, it may be wise to make sure his team doesn’t sign any major piece that would eat into his minutes and/or production.

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