LaMelo Ball Opens as Favorite in 2020-21 Rookie of the Year Odds Over Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman

LaMelo Ball driving

LaMelo Ball has opened as favorite to win 2021 ROY. (Photo by AAP/Imago/Icon Sportswire)

  • LaMelo Ball is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year ahead of Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, who were drafted in the top two spots ahead of him
  • Ball is heading to Charlotte to join Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, but the offense is expected to run through him
  • See full opening odds for the 2020-21 NBA ROY within the story below 

The 2020 NBA Draft took place on Wednesday night. Anthony Edwards went first overall, followed by James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball. It’s Ball who leads the opening 2021 Rookie of the Year odds at an early price of +390.

In a draft class without standout talents, the Rookie of the Year race is wide open. Zion Williamson and Ja Morant made it a two-horse race last year (and Zion’s injury meant it was comfortably Morant’s award). This year is different.

The top two picks were selected onto teams which already have stars. A lot of highly drafted players split opinion among draft experts – could we see a surprise Rookie of the Year winner?

Here are the opening odds for NBA Rookie of the Year, led by the top three selections.

2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

Player Odds
LaMelo Ball +390
Anthony Edwards +480
James Wiseman +480
Obi Toppin +700
Killian Hayes +950
Deni Avdija +1400
Onyeka Okongwu +2000
Patrick Williams +2000
Tyrese Haliburton +2000
Isaac Okoro +2400
Cole Anthony +4500
Devin Vassell +4500
Jalen Smith +4500
Tyrese Maxey +4500
Josh Green +5500
Kira Lewis +5500
Precious Achiuwa +5500
Aaron Nesmith +6500
Aleksej Pokusevski +6500
Malachi Flynn +6500
RJ Hampton +6500
Saddiq Bey +6500
Isaiah Stewart +6500
Theo Maledon +10000
Tyrell Terry +10000
Desmond Bane +10000
Zeke Nnaji +10000
Leandro Bolmaro +10000
Jaden McDaniels +10000
Payton Pritchard +10000

Odds taken from FanDuel on November 19th

LaMelo’s Role

The Hornets have a bit of a jam in the backcourt. Rumors of a trade up to take James Wiseman were no more than that, and Charlotte picked on talent rather than need with the third overall selection. While the Hornets have already suggested using LaMelo as a point wing at times, the expectation is that he will play the majority of his minutes as the point guard. This will leave Terry Rozier or Devonte’ Graham on the bench.

Ball, regardless of the line-ups deployed, is going to be Charlotte’s primary ball handler. He’s not a good perimeter shooter at this stage of his career. Rozier and Graham can play off ball (Rozier shot over 41% from three last season, Graham was over 37%), and the two will benefit from LaMelo’s elite passing ability.

He’s going to improve this Hornets team offensively, likely racking up assists along the way with shooters around him, but the defensive fit is more challenging.

Playing on a good team doesn’t matter as much for Rookie of the Year as it does for MVP, but Ball’s chances of winning the award improve if he can make Charlotte relevant. That won’t be easy even in the East. Seven of the postseason spots are locked up – Charlotte will join Washington, Orlando, Atlanta and Chicago fighting for that final playoff berth.

How Do Edwards and Wiseman Fit In?

Where Ball is the hope of the franchise in North Carolina, Edwards and Wiseman arrive with a different type of pressure. The Timberwolves want to be good – they are relying on Edwards taking quickly to the NBA. The Warriors are hoping to contend for yet another title and will be leaning on Wiseman for the majority of their minutes at the five.

Edwards could face a battle for the ball. His usage rate is going to be much lower than LaMelo’s and several other of the top picks. D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns are established All-Star-level talents and they have been joined by Ricky Rubio. Edwards is going to be playing the three, and will be reliant on Russell and Towns sharing the offense with him. He’s a good fit there, but he’s not guaranteed to put up big numbers.

Wiseman’s Rookie of the Year candidacy changes depending on the health of Klay Thompson. Without Thompson, the Warriors will be forced to play differently, and could run more pick-and-roll, giving Wiseman the chance to show off his athleticism and finishing around the rim. Wiseman has the best chance of being a key player on a good team in his rookie year – how much is that worth in Rookie of the Year voting?

2021 NBA Championship Odds Tracker

Detroit Come Good?

The Detroit Pistons are likely heading for the depths of a rebuild. Trading away Luke Kennard on draft night hasn’t helped their short-term future. Yet, Blake Griffin remains, and in Killian Hayes they have landed a guard who was atop some draft boards (Kevin O’Connor ranked Hayes as the best prospect in the draft).

Hayes has the body to settle straight into the NBA. He’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot. With a healthy Griffin, an improving Sekou Doumbouya and Hayes, the Pistons might not be as bad next season as most of us expected. Hayes, at the very least, is going to have the opportunity to post some hefty numbers.

If the Pistons are in the mix for a playoff spot, Hayes will be in the mix for Rookie of the Year. He probably presents the best value on the board at the moment, though Cole Anthony at +4500 is a tempting longshot too if he gets considerable time leading the Magic’s offense.

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Sam Cox

NBA MLB Soccer Sports Writer

NBA MLB Soccer