NBA Rookie Of The Year Odds: Chet Holmgren Now Favored Over Victor Wembanyama

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah | Last Updated
NBA rookie of the year odds

When the NBA Rookie of the Year odds opened up, it was no surprise to see Victor Wembanyama atop the board. In fact, not only did the French phenom have the shortest odds, but he was actually favored over the entire field. Just before the season began, some shops were north of -150, and the best price a bettor could find was around -130.

Mere weeks into the season, that situation has changed in a hurry. Oklahoma City big man Chet Holmgren now leads the way at . He didn’t even open the year second in markets, with a longer price than Scoot Henderson as well as Wembanyama. Wembanyama ranks second, and nobody else is on the same continent, much less ballpark.

Can Wembanyama overtake Holmgren and begin stamping his name in history books as future superstars like Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Shaquille O’Neal have? Or will the unlikely Holmgren hold his spot and ultimately take down the NBA Rookie of the Year award?

nBA Rookie of the Year odds

Comparing Holmgren And Wembanyama

Here’s a look at the early-season production from each player so far, in terms of box score stats:

Minutes Per Game3030
Points Per Game17.919.3
Rebounds Per Game7.89.7
Assists Per Game2.62.6
Blocks Per Game2.12.7
Steals Per Game0.91.3
Shooting splits (FG/3P/FT)53.7/41/87.143.7/27.1/82.9

Conveniently, both players are averaging exactly 30 MPG, making comparing their stats easier. Wembanyama has the slight edge in counting stats, but Holmgren has been far more efficient, to the point he’s just been the more productive player so far. A 50/40/90 shooting line is considered the holy grail of efficiency, and Holmgren is damn near there as a rookie, an astounding achievement considering most rookies, even future stars, struggle to even reach average efficiency.

As mobile big men, defense is just as important as offense for these players, if not more so. That remains notoriously difficult to quantify. But it’s safe to assume both players are making a hugely positive impact there.

Crafted NBA’s rim protection leaderboard has Holmgren ranked an impressive 21st out of high-volume rim defenders. Wembanyama ranks 69th, albeit still sporting a strong number.

On/off numbers are more kind to Wembanyama on defense and in general. Per Cleaning The Glass, the Frenchman has a slightly superior net rating, and his impact on the defense comes in at the 91st percentile. Holmgren has a more lukewarm 56th-percentile impact.

Why Holmgren has The LEad

How has Holmgren overtaken a clear preseason favorite despite their box-score stats looking quite similar?

It likely comes down to team performance.

Thanks to the superstar efforts of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, great coaching, and a roster full of draft pick hits, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves in early contention. The market price remains long (), but the Thunder sit third in the West and have the NBA’s third-best net rating, historically a very good predictor of postseason success.

San Antonio, meanwhile, looks like it’s engaging in a follow-up tank after last year’s efforts netted the highly prized Wembanyama. After a 3-2 start, the Spurs have lost a stunning 13 games in a row.

Can Wembanyama Reverse The Odds Shift?

The Spurs have the worst net rating in the league by a mile, which suggests improvement is not imminent. That’s a major problem for Wembanyama, especially considering how committed Coach Gregg Popovich seems to tanking, er, playing Jeremy Sochan at point guard.

Before the season, when I made a wager on Wembanyama to win Rookie of the Year, my main fear was the team would limit his games played. Especially considering the checkered injury history of similarly-sized players, it would have been a defensible approach for the team.

Instead, they’ve opted to get more creative. The Spurs actually have some decent lineups, but they simply refuse to use them, likely for fear of actually winning games.

With the Thunder showing no signs of slowing down, things are looking grim for Wembanyama’s rookie of the year chances. Unless he either significantly ups his efficiency or the Spurs start winning games, he’s probably going to have a hard time catching Holmgren.

Not a lot of precedent exists in terms of rookies playing on actually good teams. But, the 2021-22 race between Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley may provide some. The two posted similar statistical seasons, but Barnes races past Mobley at the end, likely in part because Barnes helped power Toronto to fifth in the East and 48 wins.

Putting up stats like he is currently probably won’t be enough for Wembanyama. In order to avoid the perception he’s just piling up empty numbers, he must get the Spurs out of the West basement and into respectability.

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