2019-2020 NBA Rookie of the Year Predictions

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Jake Ernst
Sportswriter and Social Media Manager for The American Betting Experts - Covering a variety of sports including the NBA, MLB, NFL and NASCAR - Former New York Yankees Contributor for Sports Illustrated's "FanSided" site - Rowan University Journalism Class of 2018.

Zion Williamson at -150 on BetStars Sportsbook

Potentially the most illustrious rookie since LeBron James back in 2003, the public expected Zion Williamson to be a very heavy favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year entering the season. While he is certainly the favorite, I think his odds of -150 kind of seems like a steal.

The explosive 285-pound forward out of Duke averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. Sometimes stats don’t always reflect the impact a player has on the court but his stats speak volumes and prove that the 2019 National College Player of the Year should have an instant impact on a young and rebuilding New Orleans Pelicans squad.

One of the most important things to ask yourself when betting on the ROY is how often that player will play. Will he be a role player or a starter? Will he be the leader of the franchise? How many minutes will he play in his rookie campaign? Don’t overthink it with Zion.

It’s quite clear he was drafted to be the next franchise player of the Pelicans. He’s going to be a star in this league and I don’t foresee playing time being any type of factor, as I expect Zion to outpace the entire draft class in terms of minutes played. This should give the 19-year-old a major advantage against his competitors for ROY.

“Zion Williamson is one of the most unique athletes to come through the college ranks in recent history and had the freshman season to match, emerging as one of the nation’s most efficient scorers and electric two-way players.” – NBA.com

With some serious star power like Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, JJ Reddick, Jaxson Hayes and a few other high-caliber players surrounding him, there’s no shortage of mouths to feed in New Orleans this year. With so much depth around him, teams likely won’t dare to double-team the rookie, a great piece of mind for you Zion fans.

So far, so good in the preseason. He’s looking extremely efficient, healthy and if the offense is flowing primarily through him for the duration of the season, he should be a no brainer for ROY.

Play it safe, hedge your bet with RJ Barrett: +440 on FanDuel

When betting on MVP’s, I typically try to bet on players that I believe play for a team that will finish the season with a strong record. Think about it, when does a player from a bad team ever win MVP? Hardly ever. However, with the Rookie of the Year bets, it’s quite different. Actually, it’s almost the complete opposite.

The whole reason why the worst teams get the highest picks and best players in the following year’s draft is to improve those poor rosters and ensure they are more competitive than the previous season. So with that being said, the ROY usually doesn’t come from championship caliber teams or even playoff contenders for that matter, so it might be a good idea to first look at some teams that you believe will struggle in 2019, then make your pick based off of that team’s rookie.

Data doesn’t lie. Below is a list of all of the Rookie of the Year winner from the last decade and the record that their team finished with that season. If you notice, even with the ROY, only two of these teams finished with a winning record, supporting my claim that once again, the ROY more often than not, comes from a poor team. 

  • 2019: Luka Doncic 33-49
  • 2018: Ben Simmons 52-30
  • 2017: Malcolm Brogdon 42-40
  • 2016: Karl Anthony Towns 29-53
  • 2015: Andrew Wiggins 16-66
  • 2014: Michael Carter Williams 19-63
  • 2013: Damian Lillard 33-49
  • 2012: Kyrie Irving 21-45 (shortened season)
  • 2011: Blake Griffin 32-50
  • 2010: Tyreke Evans 25-57
  • 2009: Derrick Rose 41-41

Knicks fans, I know you’re always trying to stay optimistic but you’d be lying to yourself if you thought you were a real title contender in 2020. What you do have going for you though, is your rookie out of Duke, RJ Barrett. If anybody is going to beat Zion Williamson for ROY, I believe it will be his former teammate, Barrett. The New York Knicks selected the 19-year-old out of Duke University with the 3rd overall pick after he spent just one year in college.

After averaging 22.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, Barrett proved to be one of the best all-around players in the country and racked up an endless amount of awards – most notable, the Consensus first-team All-American award in 2019. In addition, Barrett also received the Jerry West Award and was voted to the first-team All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman team in 2019. The well-decorated 19-year-old should certainly contend for another award this year, the Rookie of the Year.

“RJ will flourish here in New York,’’ Mike Krzyzewski, Barrett’s coach at Duke, quoted back in June. “He wants to be here. He is so mature. He just turned 19, but he’s been a part of the Canadian basketball program since [he was] a little guy, he’s always played up.” – NY Post

He will fit right in in the NBA and with minimal help around him; there won’t be any type of usage shortage for the rookie. I expect the offense to flow primarily through Barrett, allowing him to get plenty of touches and having a positive impact on the New York Knicks. Vegas has Ja Morant ahead of Barrett in the NBA Rookie of the Year odds but I think Barrett is the superior all-around player and is a great value bet at +440.

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