NBA Rookie Roundup: Who Presents the Best Early Betting Value for Rookie of the Year?
NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton (0), Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (50), Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2).
It might still feel too early to have conversations about end of season awards, but not when there’s betting value to be found.
This season’s crop of rookies weren’t heralded like the class the preceded them. However, there have been some some impressive performances among the group and oddmakers and our NBA crew are taking notice.
Below they discuss the three players who are showing their early value in the Rookie of the Year race and make their cases for why you consider grabbing their current odds.
Brandon Anderson: LaMelo Ball (+300, BetMGM)
Ball is the favorite at most books, but I still think there’s value here.
Rookie of the Year has always been and will always be about sheer counting numbers. James Wiseman doesn’t pass. Tyrese Haliburton doesn’t score enough and neither do Isaac Okoro or Deni Avdija. Anthony Edwards scores plenty, but doesn’t do much else. Obi Toppin just hasn’t played.
Ball is averaging 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. He’s hitting 1.5 3s per game at a respectable 35% and filling up the box score when he’s on the court. And all signs point to him being on the court more often soon. Ball is playing 24 minutes a game and has yet to make a start. He could end up playing himself into a starting role and see the floor for 30 minutes per game — a 25% increase in minutes.
If you project Ball’s numbers to go up by 25% too, suddenly he’s putting up 14.5/6/6 plus 2.5 steals and that’s a pretty easy Rookie of the Year case to make. Add in the fact that he’s the most visible rookie with the flashiest highlights and the case becomes much easier to make.
I picked Ball before the season, but wasn’t totally convinced he would score enough to attract voter attention. Now that he’s putting up double-digit points, and with his rebounding total adding delicious counting numbers on top of the dimes, I think he has the most value here.
I should note that I just wrote about Cole Anthony’s value rising with Markelle Fultz out for the season now. I think he could be Ball’s top competition by the end of the season, but I suspect Ball may need to falter or miss some time for Anthony to pay off.
Matt Moore: Cole Anthony (+3500, BetMGM)
We can agree that no one has stood out so far, and this isn’t top-heavy class with one standout player leading the pack. So let’s take a shot.
Brandon already mentioned Fultz ACL tear and Anthony’s potential to fill in and garner more numbers, but I liked Anthony to jumped ahead of this crowded field before the injury news.
Per 36 minutes is a stat that’s going to be used a lot with this class, and Anthony stands out there. Anthony’s per 36 numbers: 14.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists to just 1.9 turnovers. That’s impressive and it’s even more likely he plays closer to 36 minutes than the 21.5 he’s averaging now.
Yes, he’s shooting 30.3% from the field and 19% from behind the arc, but that can only improve … right? He’ll be on a team that will likely hang around the playoff race, getting 20 minutes per night.
I think now’s the time to take a shot, and I like the per-36’s enough to make him my pick.
Raheem Palmer: Tyrese Haliburton (+600, FanDuel)
I agree with Brandon’s sentiment that there’s value on Ball to win Rookie of the Year based on his upside and potential to start. With James Wiseman playing for the Golden State Warriors, he’ll be featured in enough high profile games with Stephen Curry to get him some attention.
Personally, I think the true value lies on Sacramento Kings rookie point guard Tyrese Haliburton, who has been arguably the most impactful rookie of the bunch.
While he’s not filling the stuffing the stat sheet, Haliburton is averaging 11.7 points, 4.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds and leads the bunch in metrics like TS% (66.6), PER (20.1), WS/48 (.196), BPM (4.4) and VORP (0.3).
In Wednesday’s 128-124 victory against the Chicago Bulls, he took over in the absence of De’Aaron Fox, shooting 6-of-7 from the field and scoring 15 of his career-high 17 points in the fourth quarter while leading the Kings to victory.
Given his ability to score, facilitate and hit 3s consistently, it’s likely he’ll be starting at some point this season, so I’m going to grab the value with Halliburton to win ROY at +600.
Joe Dellera: Tyrese Haliburton (+600, FanDuel)
I’m all aboard the Haliburton train. He is the rookie who provides the most value to me as a Rookie of the Year bet at this point in the season. Although he missed a few games with a wrist injury, when he is on the court his impact is evident.
Wednesday night he returned, hit an absolute dagger with 11 seconds left and posted a line of 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and zero turnovers while leading the Kings to a victory after De’Aaron Fox left with hamstring tightness at halftime.
If Fox is forced to miss time, Haliburton would be the well-rounded player on the court for the Kings.
Raheem already pointed out Haliburton’s numbers on the season, but note that he’s doing that on just 14.3% Usage Rate, per NBA Advanced Stats. This puts him in the 80th percentile in point differential in the entire NBA with a +14.5 per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass.
He’s contributing both offensively and defensively; that point differential consists of +7.5 on offense and -7.0 on defense. And if you watched him at Iowa State or read our preseason awards piece, his performance thus far should come as no surprise.
We can talk about Ball as the favorite, but he turns the ball over three times as often as Haliburton. Moreover, I don’t see room for Ball to grow. Sure, he will probably become a bit more efficient as the season progresses; however, his Usage Rate is already the third-highest on the team at 22.8% (76th percentile) with other ball dominant players on the same roster.
Haliburton’s usage is the second-lowest on the Kings. Let that sink in.
Head coach Luke Walton knows that Haliburton is a weapon on both sides of the floor and he will continue to lean on him more as this season progresses.
I almost wish Wednesday night had not happened yet because FanDuel was hanging a +950 line for him to win Rookie of the Year, but they still have the best line at +600 and if you haven’t jumped in, the water certainly is warm.