NBA Rookie of the Year: Why Paolo Banchero is by far the best bet among draft class despite low odds – CBS Sports

NBA Rookie of the Year: Why Paolo Banchero is by far the best bet among draft class despite low odds - CBS Sports

If you’re going to make a preseason bet on the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, it should be on Paolo Banchero. I usually strive for a little more nuance in these awards previews, but if Banchero stays healthy, he’s the overwhelming favorite to win the award based on precedent. He is available at +225 now at Caesars Sportsbook. He would still be a good value bet at even money.

Chet Holmgren’s injury is part of that, but it runs much deeper. Winning Rookie of the Year mostly means amassing possessions. We saw this play out last season when Evan Mobley lost to Scottie Barnes despite having arguably the greatest defensive season in rookie history. Barnes had more latitude to put up numbers, and that gave him the slightest of edges when the votes were counted.

Only two big men have won this award since 2006: Karl-Anthony Towns and Blake Griffin. Griffin’s Scissors traded their starting point guard in the middle of the season. Cities had Ricky Rubio at point guard, one of the NBA’s most unselfish lead ball handlers. They were both put in positions to handle the ball and score a lot of points. That’s what they did. It is an opportunity given to very few newcomers. Since 2006, only 40 of them have averaged 15 points per game. Of those 40, 16 won Rookie of the Year, implying that a rookie averaging 15 points per game has about a 40 percent chance of winning the award.

You won’t be surprised to hear what newbies get the chance to earn so much. Since Chris Paul won in 2006, every winner has been chosen in the lottery except for Malcolm Brogdon. Six winners were No. 1 overall picks, two went second and five more landed in the top five. Basically, this means we are looking for high draft picks who will be given the freedom to handle the ball and score points.

Why does this point us to Banchero? Well, let’s look at the next picks in the 2022 NBA Draft. Holmgren is out for the year. Jabari Smith, a limited ball-handler collegiately drafted more for his shooting and defense, plays on a team in Houston with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. Green just averaged less than four assists per 100 possessions as one of Houston’s primary ball handlers. , an extremely low number. To put it in perspective, the 3.9 assists per 100 possessions he just averaged is JJ Redick’s career mark. Porter’s assist numbers were much better a season ago, and he’s really grown as a playmaker since Houston moved him to point guard. But he’s still a scorer first in a contract year. Smith may one day be a better player than Banchero, but he probably won’t get the ball enough to surpass him as a rookie.

We’ll get to No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray and No. 6 overall pick Benedict Mathurin in a bit, but No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey is a shaky shooter joining Cade Cunningham’s team. The sky’s the limit for him if the shot improves, but this season, the touches likely won’t be there. No. 7 pick Shaedon Sharpe is on Damian Lillard’s team and sits behind Anfernee Simons and Josh Hart in the top round. No. 8 pick Dyson Daniels and No. 9 pick Jeremy Sochan are primarily defenders at this stage of their careers. The No. 10 pick Johnny Davis is battling for minutes with three established NBA starters and two recent lottery picks. That rounds out the top 10. Not particularly encouraging, huh?

All of this leads us back to Banchero, drafted to be an offensive fulcrum on a team without a single proven point guard on its roster. None of us can say with certainty what kind of NBA player Banchero will be in 10 years, but even if he is a failure, there is plenty of precedent for such players winning this award. Michael Carter-Williams and Tyreke Evans are Rookie of the Year winners. There is very little correlation between this award and future success. It’s all about posting numbers in a rookie season.

So okay, we’ve established that Banchero at +225 is the best value on the board. Are there any other players worth a sniff? If you really want to diversify your Rookie of the Year portfolio, I view the following players as reasonable sleepers. (Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.)

Keegan Murray, Kings (+430)

Murray will not be a primary ball handler, but he plays on a team with two generous. Domantas Sabonis is the best passing center west of Nikola Jokic, and De’Aaron Fox’s speed generates so much gravitas to the rim that a shooter like Murray should get plenty of open looks both inside the arc and out. His mid-range game complements the drive of Fox and the rest of Sacramento’s shooters quite well, and part of the appeal of drafting him fourth was that he is already 22. This is not a teenager who could help down. The kings chose him to help now.

That is the real reason for making this bet. The Kings are desperate for a game push, and Murray will get a telling boost if he helps them get one. While narrative help is intangible, workloads are quantifiable. The Kings will not load-manage Murray if he is essential to win. In a crowded Western Conference, he’ll soak up enough minutes to post numbers by default.

This was a much more attractive bet before Holmgren got injured. Betting markets often call for a secondary favorite as a hedge against strong tickets on a single candidate, and Murray has fallen into that position almost by default. Banchero simply has fewer teammates, arguably, who will hinder his own offense. In addition to Fox and Sabonis, Murray must compete with Malik Monk, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes and Davion Mitchell for touches. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Sacramento. That’s just not as true for the magic. If you bet on Murray, you’re betting on the Kings making a serious playoff push. Here’s what it will take to close what will likely be a significant statistical gap between him and the favorite.

Malcolm Brogdon is gone. Buddy Hield and Myles Turner could soon join him. The team now firmly belongs to Tyrese Haliburton, but any games he misses are made up, and in a clear tanking season, minor scrapes and bruises tend to turn into long absences. The point here is that there are plenty of shots to go around in Indiana, and aside from Chris Duarte, there just aren’t that many. peacemakers eager to take them.

Stylistically, Mathurin should play quite well at Haliburton when they are in the lineup together. His best trait is his jump shot, but he’s a strong enough ball-handler to kill overzealous defenders closing in on him. He’s not yet a skilled pick-and-roll technician, but he doesn’t need to be. It’s not like Banchero and Murray are expected to post eye-popping assist numbers.

Honestly, I’d probably wait until the preseason to make this bet. We still don’t know how Indiana will set their lineups. Will Mathurin start? More likely, he will come off the bench behind Duarte. How often will Rick Carlisle play three guards? His history suggests it is something he will consider. The odds shouldn’t change too much here between now and opening night, so there’s no reason to rush into this bet.

Much of the same logic that applies to Mathurin applies to Agbaji, but you get him at triple the odds. He is on a team that is currently demoted to the studs. There will be no shortage of shot attempts for Agbaji, and it doesn’t hurt that he enters the NBA as a relatively strong defender. He’s also a four-year varsity player, so the learning curve won’t be too steep. It wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see Agbaji start in Utah’s backcourt alongside Collin Sexton if the Jazz manages to trade Mike Conley before opening night.

The obvious downside here is that while Agbaji is a stellar shooter, he’s not much of a ball-handler. He’s also on Sexton’s team, and Sexton isn’t exactly known for his passing. If you’re looking for a Utah long bet, Sexton at +5000 for Most Improved Player looks a lot more attractive.

Okay, the long shot of all long shots. Everything that applied to Smith also applies to Washington. The difference is that you get one at +650 and the other at 100-to-1. Washington likely won’t play enough minutes to win this award or even seriously compete for it. But Porter is volatile, and until he signs a contract extension, he’s a trade candidate by default. If he or Green were to get hurt, Washington would be owed serious minutes just for being young on a tanking team.

Shall I bet this? No. But if you’re looking for the longest long shots, you’re looking at guards who have paths to minutes even if those involve injuries. In the same token, Jaden Hardy at +5000 is a somewhat sensible lottery ticket as Jalen Brunson just left Dallas and Spencer Dinwiddie has an extensive injury history. I wouldn’t bet on him either, but this is the formula for a non-top pick. Brogdon earned his award as a second-round pick after the Bucks traded current point guard Michael Carter-Williams nine days before the season. The odds don’t really reflect how unlikely something like this was, but there is a precedent for it if you look for one.

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