NBA Rookie of the Year odds: Can Cunningham win as short favorite?
We're only a week removed from the 2021 NBA Draft, but there's no better time to find early value in the Rookie of the Year race. At this time last year, LaMelo Ball was nearly +400 to win this award and ended up netting a nice payday for those who took a shot on the former No. 3 pick.
Here are the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year odds and our favorite early plays:
Cade Cunningham, G, Pistons (+225)
It had been 13 years since the favorite won Rookie of the Year until last season when Ball was the clear preseason front-runner and led wire-to-wire in a mostly uninspiring race. It could be a similar story with Cunningham, who has the talent, versatility, and opportunity to fill the stat sheet.
Much like last year's Hornets, this season's Pistons don't figure to be much of a factor, which means the priority will be Cunningham's growth and giving him as much work as he can handle. Detroit didn't sign any notable point guards to take away ball-handling duties from Cunningham, so this will be his show. If he's the talent we think, he could run away with this.
Jalen Suggs, G, Magic (+850)
Could Suggs be the backcourt star the Magic have been seeking for what feels like forever? The dynamic scoring guard was a key piece of one of the best teams in collegiate history at Gonzaga and is already drawing early comparisons to former All-NBA guard Brandon Roy - who, fittingly, won Rookie of the Year in 2006-07.
Suggs should have instant command of Orlando's backcourt, which bodes well for his statistical output by the end of the season. If he can help the Magic win a few surprise games along the way, he's a real contender here.
Cameron Thomas, G, Nets (+5000)
Thomas isn't the safest option on this list, but he should absolutely be priced shorter than 50-1 given the role he could play for the Nets this campaign. Brooklyn's bench is a work in progress behind its three stars, and Thomas could be asked to handle an outsized role as a bench scorer right away.
He can handle it, having finished fourth in scoring (23.0 points per game) at LSU to entice the Nets to pick him at No. 27. The rest of his game needs some work, but this is a flash-over-substance award that rewards scoring above all else. And Thomas can score. Play these odds before preseason hype slashes this price.
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