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NBA Rookie Rankings: The Top Rookie of the Year Candidates in 2022

The 2022 NBA Draft is in the books! With the dust settled and the picks all in, which players are leading the way in the very early Rookie of the Year odds for the 2022-2023 season?
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NBA Rookie Rankings: The Top Rookie of the Year Candidates in 2022

The 2022 NBA Draft is in the books! With the dust settled and the picks all in, which players are leading the way in the very early Rookie of the Year odds for the 2022-2023 season?

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6. Bennedict Mathurin | Indiana Pacers (+1500) (Bet $100 to win $1500)

Don't worry if you're not that familiar with Bennedict Mathruin's game. You soon will be. The outstanding offensive swingman out of Arizona averaged almost 18 points per game last season and can score from anywhere on the floor. He joins a suddenly potent Indiana Pacers' offense that features Malcolm Brogdon, Tyrese Haliburton, and Buddy Hield. Myles Turner also still lurks to provide some scoring and strong interior defense. Where Mathurin fits into the offensive equation remains to be seen, but it's not hard to envision him as an instant-offense wing off the bench that backs up both Haliburton and Hield. He may initially have to fight off Chris Duarte for that role, but don't be surprised if the Pacers look to move Buddy Hield now who is owed $38 million over the next two years and ostensibly blocks the paths for Duarte and Mathurin now.

5. Keegan Murray | Sacramento Kings (+1000) (Bet $100 to win $1000)

Considering the checkered draft history of the Sacramento Kings and the fact that it has been 17 years since they last made the postseason, there are already rumblings about the decision to pass over Jaden Ivey in favor of the "better fit" in Keegan Murray. Murray is certainly a fantastic prospect, and the Kings had a glut of point guards in De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell, so the hope is Murray provides a perfect frontcourt complement to the up-and-coming backcourt. Murray is a big and surprisingly fast prospect who should immediately jump into the starting lineup and form a formidable duo with Domantas Sabonis. You can see the makings of a playoff team with the pieces being assembled in Sacramento, but let's hope this is not another Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic situation by passing over Ivey.

4. Jaden Ivey | Detroit Pistons (+850) (Bet $100 to win $850)

The Pistons didn't have to think long when Ivey dropped to the fifth pick in the draft despite being set for guards with Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, and Cory Joseph on the roster. Hayes will now move to a bench stopper/three point shooter role which should put Ivey and Cunningham together in what might be the best backcourt in the league in a matter of a couple short seasons. Between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Purdue, Ivey made tremendous leaps as a scorer and jump shooter. He can hit any shot on the floor, and create his own offense. That is something he will likely be called on to do when Cunningham is resting. With Cunningham, Ivey, Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart all young and improving, this team is going to be worth the price of admission for some time.

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3. Chet Holmgren | Oklahoma City Thunder (+480) (Bet $100 to win $480)

After the surprise double-switch among the first and third picks in the draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder did end up getting their man in Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren. As the Thunder seem set in young guards and wing players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Josh Giddey, Theo Maledon, and Aleksej Pokusevski, Holmgren should provide the perfect piece the middle for a team that is now clearly on the rise. Holmgren has the shooting and shot-blocking repertoire that is so coveted among NBA teams right now. He does need to add some bulk to his frame, but Holmgren is in a clear position to contribute right away for a team that was so bad last year. The only thing that might hinder Holmgren's chance of winning is the Thunder are notorious for resting players if they are out of contention. The people need their Holmgren fix so hopefully, we get a full season out of him.

2. Jabari Smith | Houston Rockets (+420) (Bet $100 to win $420)

The Rockets prepared the last six weeks to welcome Paulo Banchero to the roster after weeks of speculation that Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren were stone cold locks for picks 1 and 2. After the Magic threw a curveball, the Rockets took Smith and may actually have ended up with an even better fit for what they are trying to build. The Rockets, fresh off the trade of Christian Wood to the Mavericks, are looking for athletes and shooters all over the floor and they may have found their power forward for the next 12 years. There are rumblings that Kenyon Martin, Jr. wants out, and Smith coming in opens the door not only for that possibility but also for Smith to get all the playing time he wants in his inaugural NBA season. Smith is a talented two-way player who will have some of the highest highs of any rookie this season. If he can learn to be more consistent on both ends of the floor, this award would be his. He is my pick for the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year.

1. Paula Banchero | Orlando Magic (+350) (Bet $100 to win $350)

After Banchero's odds to be the number one overall pick plummeted from more than +1500 to as low as +110 in some places, the Orlando Magic proved those bettors right in selecting Banchero. It was a shocking move considering Banchero did not work out for or interview with Orlando. But the Magic saw the talent that was undeniable and decided they would just find a spot to make it work on the roster. Franz Wagner now should move to small forward with Banchero taking over the power forward slot. With Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Wagner, and Banchero all starting, that is four offensive playmakers and they also have Wendell Carter in the middle. At 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game for a talented Duke squad, Banchero proved he can be a do-everything player, making him an ideal fit for the Magic who have a couple of different holes they are looking to fill in their rotation.

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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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