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
Odds taken from FanDuel on November 19th
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.
Morning after draft hot takes:
-LaMelo will be the best player to come out of this draft
-Okongwu will be the best big
-Avdija will be the best INTL
-Tyrese Haliburton went way too low
-Maxey will go top-10 in a re-draft
-Bolmaro will be the 2nd best INTL from 2020 pic.twitter.com/E2G1M3fhdr
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) November 19, 2020
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.
With the number 2 pick in the 2020 #NBADraft, the Golden State Warriors selected James Wiseman 🌉 pic.twitter.com/kuepHiyIMQ
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) November 19, 2020
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).
Congratulations to the Detroit Pistons. Killian Hayes is my #1 prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here’s why: https://t.co/a737HbOX0U
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 19, 2020
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.
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.