2020 NBA Rookie of Year Preview, Predictions, Odds & Betting Picks

Jarrett CulverWith last week’s NBA Draft now passed, oddsmakers are starting to post some future and prop bets on how they will fare with their new teams.

No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson is the obvious favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. However, given that his odds are at -200 with BetOnline and as low as -250 with Bovada, there are other candidates who might be better betting options.

I’ve decided on the three best value bets for the 2019-2020 Rookie of the Year award, taking into account skill level and potential role on the team.

Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves (+1600 at Bovada or BetOnline)

The Timberwolves made a bold move ahead of the draft to move up from No. 11 to No. 6, sending away a decent forward in Dario Saric in the process. The trade allowed them to pick up Culver, who some expected to go as high as No. 4 in the draft.

On paper, it looks like the 6’7” Culver may have to compete for minutes at the wing spots in Minnesota. Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington and Josh Okogie are some other players who could cut into his developmental time. The Wolves are reportedly trying to trade Wiggins and his 35 minutes per game this offseason, and Covington missed 47 games last year with a knee injury. The team also may slide Covington up to the 4 spot in small-ball lineups, opening up some extra minutes at the 2 and 3 spots.

Despite Culver being just 20 years old, he has the scoring and creation ability to work pretty well on the ball as a starter even in his first year. After Karl-Anthony Towns at center, Minnesota just doesn’t have many options on the offensive end who can soak up ball-handling and shot-taking responsibilities well.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wolves go all in on their Towns-Culver pairing next season, especially if they trade Wiggins and don’t get any stars in free agency. So Culver looks good value in the betting with the American odds makers.

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (+500 at Bovada, just +400 at BetOnline)

With the trade of longtime Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, Morant is in the perfect situation to get a whole lot of minutes and touches in the team’s offense as the team’s point guard. If you look at the players on the Grizzlies’ roster, there aren’t many guards, and there specifically aren’t many guards who are offensive initiators.

Will Morant be the Grizzlies’ leading scorer and assist man in his first year? That’s definitely realistic for a talent-starved team whose best players besides him are probably Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Anderson and Delon Wright.

Memphis will count on Morant to create for himself and others in year one. He should do both at a pretty high level, as he averaged 24.5 points and 10 assists at Murray State last year. However, his shooting efficiency and turnover numbers are likely to be major weak points.

Overall, though, the recent precedent for primary ball-handlers winning Rookie of the Year is strong. Luka Doncic, Ben Simmons, Michael Carter-Williams, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving have all won this award since 2012.

Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards (+4000 with Bovada, +3300 at BetOnline)

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Wizards selecting Hachimura ninth overall. While he is NBA-ready, I don’t know if he has the three-point shot or defensive awareness to be a truly high-impact player for a good NBA team down the line.

What he should be capable of in year one, though, is putting up numbers for the Wizards. Washington doesn’t have a lot of scoring punch after Bradley Beal, and there isn’t much depth at the forward spots that would bury the 6’9” Hachimura in the pecking order. Especially if the Wizards struggle again, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hachimura featured as the No. 2 scoring option for a portion of this season.

A low-pressure environment on a below-average team would definitely give Hachimura room to expand his skill set. He may struggle quite a bit with efficiency and defense, but it wouldn’t be too outlandish for him to end up averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game as a rookie.