NBA Rookie of the Year futures bets: Trends, picks

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With the 2022 NBA Summer League in the books, we can start putting together our Rookie of the Year (ROY) futures portfolio. But before we get to those picks, I put together a list of key trends that date back to 1966, when the league revamped the draft to do away with territorial picks:

  • Five of the past six ROY winners were on teams that reached at least a playoff play-in game.
  • Over the past four years, the average draft position of the ROY award winner was third.
  • ROY winners averaged 19.03 points per game.
  • The 2017-18 season is the last time the top overall pick won the ROY.
  • No. 1-overall picks have won the most ROY awards (18).
  • Guards have won the ROY award 26 times and forwards 23 times.

Given what we’ve seen over the past six years, ROY voters are starting to value team performances instead of solely looking at a player’s stat line.

Frankly, I think that began in 2017 when former Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon won the award after averaging 10.2 points, 4.2 assists, and 2.8 rebounds.

Milwaukee qualified for the playoffs that season as Brogdon beat out the 76ers’ Dario Saric, who averaged 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists.

Here are three players I’m looking at for the upcoming season, with odds by BetMGM.

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Bennedict Mathurin (11/1)

Based on the above trends, I think it makes sense to target a rookie on a team with a decent chance to at least qualify for a playoff play-in game. And given what we saw during the summer league, the Pacers’ Mathurin is a player who fits that profile.

Indiana selected Mathurin sixth overall and the former Arizona guard ranked third among rookies at the summer league with 19.3 points over three games. Mathurin should have the opportunity to play at least 30 minutes a night as I have him walking right into the Pacers’ starting rotation.

As for Pacers’ playoff chances, I think this team can surprise some people with Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield coming over via trade from the Kings. Note that the Pacers are only one year removed from qualifying for a play-in spot in the 2020-21 season.

Bennedict Mathurin
Getty Images

Keegan Murray (+650)

Another player who looks to be on a budding team is the Kings forward. Last season, Sacramento finished just four games out of a play-in spot, so it should benefit from a bona fide star like Murray on the roster.

Murray entered the draft after averaging 23.5 points in his sophomore year at Iowa. At summer league, he led all rookies with an average of 23.3 points through four games.

Not only does he have tremendous size, at 6-foot-8, but also he has a great touch from 3-point range, as he averaged 37.3 percent in college.

Keegan Murray
Getty Images

Paolo Banchero (+350)

If I had one final pick to win ROY, it would be the Magic forward. There’s a certain symmetry that lines up with Banchero winning the award.

Not only is the ROY winner often the top pick, but Banchero was widely projected to go third in the draft. We also know that the over the past four years, the average draft position of the ROY winner was third.

At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Banchero already has an NBA-type body. Though Banchero played just two games during the summer league, he finished behind Murray with an average of 20 points per game.

The one downside of our ROY formula is that the Pacers’ and Kings’ rosters are ahead of the Magic’s.

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