Lost in the shuffle of the excitement for the return of the NBA regular season is the worthy discussion for which player should win the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year. At this stage, it’s a two-player race between Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson but according to the NBA betting odds, it’s Morant’s award to lose.
The best basketball betting sites were shifting their Rookie of the Year odds by the day once Zion returned to action in January and he was hovering around +250 with strong momentum before the season suspension.
Now, with the season restart coming on July 30 in Orlando, Zion has an uphill battle at +900 to win the award while Morant holds a commanding -3500 lead at Bovada to take the hardware.
Based on Morant’s -3500 odds, that implies he has a 97.2 percent chance to win the award, which seems like a lock. Each player gets eight remaining regular-season games to showcase themselves so we’ll breakdown each player’s game, how we got here and what each of these studs needs to do to outdo one another and take the accolade.
Odds as of June 30 at Bovada
Why Ja Will Win The ROY
Coming into the 2019-2020 NBA regular season and opening as the second betting option on the oddsboard for the Rookie of the Year, it’s not like Ja Morant snuck up on voters to start the season. He was the second overall pick in the NBA Draft and in any other year that didn’t include an athletic marvel like Zion, Ja would’ve been the favorite.
Morant has been one of the best things to watch on NBA League Pass this year and he’s been the driving force in carrying the Memphis Grizzlies to a potential playoff spot. The Grizz sit at 32-33 SU through 65 games but only have a three-and-half-game lead over the Pelicans and Blazers for the 8-seed in the West.
|New Orleans Pelicans||+300|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+325|
|San Antonio Spurs||+1600|
Odds as of June 30 at Bovada
With the Grizzlies having the lead in the Western Conference standings, these eight remaining regular-season games could be crucial to Morant’s chances of getting the ROY.
There are some NBA analysts (not me) who believe the team that makes the West playoffs will give the player the edge in the award voting and while Morant has been playing nothing like a rookie for Memphis this season (he leads the team in points, assists and steals), the remaining schedule for the Grizz is a murderer’s row (Raptors, Bucks, Celtics, Jazz, Pelicans, Thunder, Blazers, Spurs).
It seems hard to believe that voters would downgrade the first 65 games of the year but if Morant struggles from the layoff and the Grizz miss the playoffs, it severely hurts his chances to win it even if it seems like he’s a lock.
Why Zion Will Win The ROY
Although Zion Williamson has played only 19 games this season, it’s been enough to remind bettors (and more importantly, voters) of just how damn good he is. Prior to the season suspension in March, the No. 1 overall pick scored 20 or more points in 15 of those games while shooting a commanding 58.9 percent from the floor.
To put that latter stat in perspective, he ranks first in the NBA in FG percentage for ANY player who averages more than 10 shots per game (109 players).
Zion has been an athletic force with dazzling dunks and quick-twitch reflexes that make him easily the most dangerous player on the floor. One facet that has really stood out is his ability to get to the foul line, with an average of eight free throws per game and six games of 10 shots or more from the charity stripe.
Why Zion Won’t Win The ROY
The only issue with betting on Zion to win Rookie of the Year is simply games played. The Duke Blue Devils product was held out of the first 41 games of the campaign due to a knee injury and at most can only play 27 total games for the 2019-20 season.
Only two players have ever won Rookie of the Year while playing fewer than 60 games – Brandon Roy (57) in 2006-07 and Patrick Ewing (50) in 1985-86. Zion would likely need to average 30 points and 15 rebounds per game in their Pelllies remaining schedule but they’ve got a bit of an easier trek to the finish line compared to the Grizzlies.
New Orleans will face Jazz, Clippers, Grizzlies, Kings, Wizards, Spurs, Kings and Magic to close the season and it seems very doable to get to the postseason once the Pelicans get past their opening two games. Not saying to fade Zion at +900 but the more feasible winning outcome would be to take the Pelicans to get the 8-seed at +300.
Understanding NBA Rookie of the Year Odds
When you go to any basketball sportsbook, you’ll see prop odds displayed like this:
Ja Morant -3500
Zion Williamson +900
You’ll see that Morant is the front-runner with a minus sign (-) beside his odds. In this scenario, he is considered an odds-on favorite and Zion is considered the underdog.
If you think Zion is going to shock the world and win Rookie of the Year, and you bet $100 on him, you’d get a payout of $1000 – your original money is returned coupled with your winnings of $900. To find out what you’d get based on the odds and betting amount, check out our Odds Calculator.
What is a Prop Bet on NBA Rookies?
Any bet that is made on the occurrence or non-occurrence of certain player or team milestones that don’t necessarily correlate to the result of a particular game is a prop. In this case, you’re betting on a player’s chances of winning Rookie of the Year.
The oddsmakers will move the lines as the season progresses. As more games are played and different players show their skills on the court, the odds will shift. If you see odds you like, it’s best to take them early so you can get the most value should you win your bet.