2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds: Where Zion Williamson Sits Before Wednesday Debut

2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds: Where Zion Williamson Sits Before Wednesday Debut article feature image

Photo credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson

  • Zion Williamson is +700 to win the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year entering his debut Wednesday.
  • He's behind only Ja Morant, the heavy favorite at -625.

Zion Williamson, the No. 1 draft pick out of Duke, will finally make his NBA debut tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

He was the clear favorite to win Rookie of the Year prior to the start of the season before undergoing knee surgery that has held him out until now. The Pelicans big man, despite missing 44 games so far, still has the second-highest odds to win the award.

This year's rookie class hasn't exactly impressed, save for Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, who looks like a future star and is the heavy favorite to win the award currently.

Here are the full odds for all players to win ROY:

Odds as of Wednesday and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).No strings attached. No rollover required.

2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds: The Front-Runners

  • Ja Morant: -625
  • Zion Williamson: +700
  • Kendrick Nunn: +900

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ only.]

2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds: The Rest

  • RJ Barrett: +2000
  • Tyler Herro: +2000
  • Rui Hachimura: +4000
  • Brandon Clarke: +4000
  • Eric Paschall: +4000
  • Coby White: +5000
  • PJ Washington: +5000
  • Michael Porter Jr.: +5000
  • Darius Garland: +10000
  • Jarrett Culver: +10000
  • De'Andre Hunter: +15000
  • Goga Bitadze: +15000
  • Matisse Thybulle: +15000
  • Cam Reddish: +25000
  • Jaxson Hayes: +25000
  • Nassir Little: +50000
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker: +50000
  • Kevin Porter Jr.: +50000
  • Cam Johnson: +50000

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ only.]

The ROY award is one of the easiest to handicap in all of sports. I wrote this last year:

First, let’s talk about what doesn’t matter in the ROY race. Unlike MVP voting, in which voters heavily weigh team performance — Russell Westbrook was a bit of an outlier winning as the West’s No. 6 seed in 2016-17 — wins and losses are essentially meaningless for ROY award.

In fact, there’s a negative correlation between team win rate and ROY voting, which makes sense because ROY winners are typically playing for bad teams that just picked high in the draft the previous summer.

The ROY race is actually fairly easy to handicap. I first read about the predictability of using a player’s combined points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton years ago, and man is it predictive.

The leader in that category has won the ROY in a ridiculous 15 of the last 18 races. Obviously that’s the biggest chunk of the model, and honestly a model doesn’t need much more than that. Simplicity is good and ensures you aren’t overfitting.

Raw stats are the most important factor for predicting the race, and thus the players picked first in the draft have the biggest edge — not just because they're likely superior prospects, but also because they're going to worse teams and should have larger roles in their first season.

That makes the race complicated, however, as Zion has already missed over half the season and isn't coming into a team barren of talent. The question is whether Zion could do anything to overcome Morant at this point, or whether over half the season missed is just too much of an obstacle.

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 23, 2024 UTC