NBA Rookie of the Year Odds Update: Injuries Shake Up the Race

After the first month 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.
Ryan Kirksey
Fri, November 19, 11:32 PM EST

NBA Rookie of the Year Odds Update: Injuries Shake Up the Race

This past week brought our first significant movement in the Rookie of the Year race due to injuries. Two major injuries (one to a rookie and one to a rookie’s teammate) helped to separate the top three from the pack, and this race is now wide open over the last 80% of the season.

As we enter the fifth week of the season, let’s look at the top five ROY odds and how we should handicap them based on recent news.

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NBA Rookie of the Year Award Rankings

5. Chris Duarte (+2000, Previous: +1600)

Duarte missed both Monday and Wednesday’s games with injury, but that doesn’t hurt his case as much as Caris Levert being back on the court. Once that happened, Duarte’s minutes dropped under 30 for three straight games, and he scored eight points per contest in that span.

The injury, of course, doesn’t help Duarte’s case, but on a team with Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, Caris Levert, and Myles Turner, there are just too many mouths to feed for Duarte to stand out.

Even at a drop-top +2000, I don’t see much upside here. The playing time and injury news would have to swing way back in his favor for Duarte to move up on this list.

4. Jalen Green (+600, Previous: +600)

Fortunately, the ROY award is not given to teams who have shown a pattern of winning, unlike the MVP award. If it were, Green and the miserable Houston Rockets would be a long way from being considered.

But despite all of the losses, Green minutes and production have been extremely chaotic and unpredictable. That’s likely why oddsmakers are reluctant to move Green into the top-three tier.

The Rockets’ rotation has been maddening to watch, which is partially to blame for Green’s wild swings in statistical output. Just in his last four games, Green has points scored of 9, 12, 15, and 21. He also has field goal percentages of 29%, 33%, 43%, and 46%. Green would need to show some lengthy consistency like the next guys on this list to jump back into consideration.

3. Cade Cunningham (+380, Previous: +500)

All of a sudden, it really looks like Cunningham has a shot at leapfrogging the players in front of him and winning this award. In just the past nine days, Cunningham averages 16 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals and plays more than 30 minutes each game.

Unlike with Duarte’s situation, the Pistons are content to let Cunningham score or create just as much as he wants. They already have learned Killian Hayes can’t shoot, so they will let him focus on defense.

In less than three weeks, Cunningham moved from the Rookie with the fourth-best odds to just outside second place. The injury to Evan Mobley will likely catapult Cunningham to the second spot on this list, meaning Scottie Barnes is the only player that would stand in his way of taking home the hardware.

2. Evan Mobley (+310, Previous: +375)

We lost Mobley for 2-4 weeks after an elbow sprain suffered on November 15th. Curiously, his odds shortened after that news to +310, with oddsmakers predicting that the limited time he will miss won’t be enough to drop him out of the race completely.

They are probably right, especially considering Mobley’s recent play when Lauri Markkanen and Kevin Love were sidelined. In his three games before the injury, Mobley averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game, including mid-30’s minutes each night.

As long as Markkanen, Love, and Jarrett Allen don’t cannibalize all the front-court minutes when Mobley returns, he should be able to jump right back into the thick of the race. On the other hand, if his odds tumble at all during this injury, that present a strong betting opportunity.

1. Scottie Barnes (+250, Previous: +375)

Barnes may be the player here most affected by injury, but it’s a teammate in this situation that may have just handed Barnes the keys to the drivers’ seat for ROY.

After playing 40 minutes on November 15th, coach Nick Nurse declared that forward OG Anunoby would be out “for a while” with a hip pointer. Of course, we can only speculate how long “a while” will be, but it certainly didn’t seem like a week or two if we read the tea leaves correctly.

That leaves Barnes as a primary beneficiary to get extra minutes at both forward spots and take over some of the offensive AND defensive holes left behind by Anunoby. If Barnes develops more as a scorer (16 points per game on 50% shooting, but just 15% on threes) and continues his rebounding dominance (8.1 rebounds per game so far), it won’t be long before he runs away with this race.

Right now, maybe the last call to buy in before all the value is cleaned off the bone here. With more minutes coming his way, Barnes is and should be the ROY favorite.

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