To no one’s surprise, former Duke forward Zion Williamson is a massive favorite at Caesars Palace to win the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year award, per Bleacher Report:
B/R Betting @br_betting
Is anyone stopping Zion? https://t.co/Dr9NCOoHKX
At 2-9 odds, bettors would need to wager $450 to net a $100 profit.
That return on investment doesn’t seem favorable, but Williamson is as close to a Rookie of the Year lock as the NBA has had in years.
The 6’7″, 285-pound forward averaged 22.6 points on 68.0 percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks during his lone season at Duke. His 40.84 player efficiency rating is the highest mark Sports Reference has on record since 2009-10.
The New Orleans Pelicans are widely expected to spend the No. 1 pick on Williamson during Thursday’s NBA draft.
Former Murray State point guard Ja Morant and ex-Duke forward RJ Barrett are projected to go second and third, respectively. Those two each have 9-2 odds ($100 bet to win $450) to win Rookie of the Year.
The wild card is the Pelicans, who also hold the No. 4 selection. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the Pels have had “internal talks” to trade up with the Memphis Grizzlies to No. 2 and take Williamson’s former teammate, Barrett.
Otherwise, Morant is a near-lock to go to Memphis at No. 2, while Barrett will likely go third to the New York Knicks.
Both players shined in college last year and could give Williamson a strong Rookie of the Year challenge.
Morant averaged 24.5 points, 10.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds during his sophomore year at Murray State, while Barrett had 22.7 points, 7.6 boards and 4.3 assists with the Blue Devils.
Like Williamson, Morant and Barrett figure to be featured early and often as the faces of their new franchises, so either one could steal the Rookie of the Year award from Williamson.
Ex-Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland (10-1), former Virginia forward DeAndre Hunter (12-1) and ex-Texas Tech forward Jarrett Culver (15-1) round out the top six.