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NBA Rookie of the Year Odds Update: Jalen Green Headlines the Top 5 Candidates

After the first 10 days of the 2021 NBA season, NBA expert Ryan Kirksey breaks down the latest NBA Rookie of the Year odds and rankings. He updates us on the latest here.
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NBA Rookie of the Year Odds Update: Jalen Green Headlines the Top 5 Candidates

This year's Rookie of the Year race in the NBA is already starting to heat up after two weeks of action. Of course, none of these guys have a rookie season the caliber of a Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, or even a Ray Felix, but it looks like the stars of tomorrow are already doing some incredible things on the court today.

Every two weeks, I will take a look at the top-five leaders in Rookie of the Year odds to see what has changed, what performances caused line movement, and who some dark horses are for the award. We have already seen some elite play from each of these rookies, so let's dive in to see where the value lies.

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NBA Rookie of the Year Award Rankings

5. Chris Duarte (Indiana Pacers, +1100)

Duarte got off to the best start of any NBA rookie in his first game when he torched the Charlotte Hornets for 27 points in his debut. Since then, Duarte has scored at least 14 points in every game and averages 18.6 on the young season.

Beyond a few rebounds, Duarte isn't chipping in much elsewhere. He has one assist in four of five games and four total steals plus blocks through five games. With Malcolm Brogdan and Domantas Sabonis on the squad carrying most of the heavy lifting on the offense, Duarte will likely see his chances to be ROY decline. Still, any increased usage or injury to the Pacers would open that door wide open again.

4. Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavaliers, +750)

After entering a crowded frontcourt that already included Jarrett Allen, Kevin Love, and Lauri Markkanen, the question was, "how will Mobley fit into that rotation?" The answer, it turns out, is "quite well."

Mobley is flirting with a double-double on the season with 13.8 points and 8.6 rebounds while also chipping in more than two blocks and more than a steal per game. He is second on the Cavaliers in offensive win shares and first in defensive win share through five games and leads the team in minutes played. As Kevin Love spends more and more time on the bench or injured this season, the potential is there for Mobley to explode with production. For my vote and my dollars, he is second only to Jalen Green for ROY at the moment.

3. Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors, +725)

Barnes is benefitting in the early season from Pascal Siakam still out with injury. Siakam was a 26% usage player last season, and the expectation is he will pick up that usage and maybe more once he returns.

The emergence of Scottie Barnes through five games has been a sight to behold. He is scoring 17.0 points per game on an astounding 53.7% shooting, plus pulling down 8.2 rebounds per night. I love his energy and tenacity, but the smart bet is to assume he sees a noticeable drop in production once Siakam is back on the floor. So even at +725, I'm fading Barnes right now as ROY.

2. Cade Cunningham (Detroit Pistons, +450)

It's tough to fully judge the number one overall pick in the 2021 draft as he has not played a minute on the court yet as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered in training camp. However, there are many predicting that Cunningham will suit up for the Detroit Pistons for the first time this weekend, so he won't have to worry about missing time shifting his odds. The fact that Cunningham still sits with the second-best odds to win with other rookies having a three to four game head start is a testament to his talent and what role he will have on the floor.

Through the first 30 games of his NBA career, the Pistons' 2020 rookie pick Killian Hayes looks like a bricklayer offensively. He shot 35% from the floor last year and is only at 23% through three games this year. This impacts Cunningham as he will be asked to carry a heavy offensive load and take that pressure off Hayes upon his return. However, at almost double the odds of Jalen Green, Cunningham looks like great value ahead of his debut.

1. Jalen Green (Houston Rockets, +250)

Green is in a very similar situation as Cunningham, just with a four-game lead in the ROY race. Both the Rockets and the Pistons are going nowhere this year, so they will be incentivized to play their young guys as much as possible. The Rockets, in fact, set a record on Wednesday when they played four teenagers on the floor at the same time.

Green is already contributing all through the stat sheet, averaging 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists plus a steal, and a block in 32.5 minutes per night. However, it's the minutes that might end up being Green's greatest asset this season. If he keeps playing low- to mid-30's per night, it will be hard for any other rookie to match him statistically. Green is already shooting 40% on three-pointers and looks like one of the most capable rookie scorers to enter the league in some time.

Long Shot to Watch: Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City Thunder, +2200)

After casually dropping 18 points, 10 assists, and two rebounds on 54% shooting in a win against the Lakers Wednesday, the world is starting to learn about floppy-haired Australian. Keep an eye on his minutes in the coming weeks to see what kind of role develops. Giddey already played more than 32 minutes in two of his last three games.


Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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