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NBA Futures: Best Bets to Win Rookie of the Year in the 2022-23 SeasonOct 2, 2022, 8:55PM
The NBA season is just about two weeks away and that means it's time to look into betting on some futures. We're starting with the Rookie of the Year award, which has a clear favorite heading into the year. Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero is the betting favorite to walk away with a trophy at the end of the year, but he's not the only candidate we like!
Read below as we break down the very best bets to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.
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NBA Futures: Best Bets to Win Rookie of the Year in the 2022-23 Season
Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
If you have some bankroll built up already, we'd heavily suggest putting a big bet down on Banchero, the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The former Duke star has an NBA-ready body, with a diverse offensive skill set and a clear path to big minutes right away. In fact, Banchero looks like a lock to start for Orlando immediately. And it wouldn't be all that surprising if the offense runs through him.
Last year, Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the Blue Devils. His numbers as a rookie could look pretty similar to those for a Magic team that has a sneaky shot at making the postseason. Even if Orlando doesn't have much team success, we just see Banchero's numbers being too good to deny him the Rookie of the Year award. Realistically, the only thing that can stop the 6-foot-10 forward from winning this is a significant injury.
Jabari Smith, Houston Rockets
There was a point in time in which everybody on the planet thought Smith would end up being the first pick in the draft, but he ultimately ended up sliding to third. Now, Smith will be playing big minutes for a Rockets team that has a very bright future.
Smith's teammates are actually the reason we aren't a bit higher on him to win this award, as Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green are two guards that primarily look for their own offense. Smith doesn't have the luxury of being the main cog on offense, but he can still find a way to separate himself and potentially be the Rookie of the Year.
Smith is one of the best shooters you'll see for a guy that stands at 6-foot-10, so he can give himself a chance to win by shooting a good percentage from deep and playing well defensively. His positional versatility on the defensive end is yet another reason he was praised coming out of Auburn.
All in all, Banchero is more likely to be a big part of his team's plans in the first season, but it's hard to rule Smith out — especially at these odds.
Ochai Agbaji, Utah Jazz
Agbaji was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Jazz as part of the Donovan Mitchell deal, and that move is one that actually gives him the opportunity to see bigger minutes in his first year in the league. With Utah beginning a massive rebuild, the team is going to want to see as much of Agbaji as possible this season. And considering he played four years at Kansas, we expect him to be ready to contribute right away in the pros.
Agbaji shot 40.9% from the outside for the Jayhawks last season, and he was also the leading scorer on the team with 18.8 points per game. He was the best player for Bill Self's program, which actually won the national championship last year. Sometimes NBA front offices can be harsh on guys that stick around in college for a while, but Desmond Bane is a good example of what Agbaji can potentially be.
If the shooter just does what he does best — which is making opponents as an off-ball shooter — he's going to be a good player in the league for a very long time. But it's not impossible that he makes his mark with the Jazz sooner than you might think, and something like 14.0 points per game isn't out of the question. That would at least put him in the conversation, which is all you can ask for at these odds. We're sprinkling a bit here for the value alone.
Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City
Another player that's worth a dart throw at +3000 is Williams, the 12th pick of the draft. The former Santa Clara standout skyrocketed up draft boards late in his third year with the Broncos. He's a 6-foot-7 forward with the ability to do a little bit of everything on the court, and he has already turned some heads at training camp.
Kenrich Williams, one of the rookie's teammates, was asked who has stood out in camp and he replied by saying that "J-Dub is gonna be an All-Star one day." That's some lofty praise and we're choosing not to ignore those words.
The only thing that might hold Williams back is the fact that Oklahoma City has a lot of young players battling for minutes at his position. But the 21-year-old is ready to play right away for this Thunder team, and we see him getting at least 25 minutes a night. If he does that, he can potentially find a way to steal this award and become a household name amongst basketball fans.