The NBA Draft took place on Thursday, June 23, and the Philadelphia 76ers selected LSU forward Ben Simmons with the first overall pick. However, before the draft even took place oddsmakers had already installed Simmons as the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
The day before the draft, the Irish sportsbook Paddy Power posted early odds for the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Award with Simmons (+130) listed as one of the biggest preseason favorites in recent memory.
Who will be the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year?
Ben Simmons +130
— David Solar (@TheDavidSolar) June 22, 2016
Last season, Karl-Anthony Towns was the first overall pick in the NBA Draft but oddsmakers questioned whether he was ready to make an immediate impact and installed Jahlil Okafor (+350) as the preseason favorite. Towns ended up averaging a double-double (18.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG) en route to becoming the fifth unanimous selection in league history.
This was the second straight year that the number one overall pick won the Rookie of the Year despite not being listed as the preseason favorite. Prior to the 2014-15 season, oddsmakers listed Jabari Parker (+225) as the Rookie of the Year front-runner ahead of number one pick Andrew Wiggins (+400). Parker ended up suffering as season-ending injury while Wiggins (16.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG) was a far more assertive offensive player than analysts expected.
Over the last decade, the number one overall pick has been named Rookie of the Year on five occasions but never when they were also listed as the preseason favorite (unless you count Blake Griffin who missed the entire 2009-10 season before winning the award the following season).
The table below displays the pre-season odds for the past ten Rookie of the Year winners (h/t SportsOddsHistory.com).
|2015-16||Karl-Anthony Towns||1||+450||Jahlil Okafor||+350|
|2014-15||Andrew Wiggins||1||+400||Jabari Parker||+225|
|2013-14||Michael Carter-Williams||11||+1200||Victor Oladipo||+300|
|2012-13||Damian Lillard||6||+500||Anthony Davis||+175|
|2011-12||Kyrie Irving||1||+500||Derrick Williams||+350|
|2010-11||Blake Griffin||1||+200||John Wall||+120|
|2009-10||Tyreke Evans||4||+700||Blake Griffin||+120|
|2008-09||Derrick Rose||1||+350||Michael Beasley||+150|
|2007-08||Kevin Durant||2||-350||Kevin Durant||-350|
|2006-07||Brandon Roy||6||+200||Brandon Roy||+200|
Ben Simmons (+130) was installed as the biggest preseason Rookie of the Year favorite since John Wall (+120) in 2010-11 and Blake Griffin (+120) in 2009-10. Neither one of those players won the award despite their lofty pre-season odds, and neither will Simmons. On September 30, 2016, Simmons rolled his right ankle during a scrimmage, and it was eventually determined that he suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot. That injury eventually cost Simmons the entire season.
Before the start of the season, I explained that it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to take the field at -200. I reasoned that there were plenty of more experienced, NBA-ready players in this year’s draft including Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield. The 76ers also have a stockpile of young big men (including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric) who could limit Simmons’ playing time and opportunity. My analysis proved right, but for all the wrong reasons.
Ever since Paddy Power posted those initial odds on Ben Simmons versus the field, several sportsbooks have posted updated Rookie of the Year odds. Kris Dunn was initially installed as the favorite after Simmons injury was announced, but Joel Embiid quickly emerged as the front-runner as the season progressed. Embiid was -150 on November 7, -400 on December 1, -750 on January 5 and -2500 on January 31.
On February 11, it was revealed that Embiid had a torn meniscus in his left knee and he was ruled out for the season just two weeks later. That means Embiid will finish his rookie season with just 31 games played, but his production was undeniable. The versatile big man averaged 20.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks per game. That said, no Rookie of the Year winner has played fewer than 50 games (Patrick Ewing in 1986) in league history.
With Embiid out for the season, teammate Dario Saric’s odds of being named Rookie of the Year jumped from +3300 to -200 at Bovada. One month later, Saric’s odds jumped from -200 to -240. The 12th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Saric is averaging 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game — albeit on just 41.1% shooting.
It’s interesting to note that over the past month, Embiid’s odds of being named MVP have improved from +375 to +275 while Malcolm Brodgon’s odds have slipped from +300 to +375. Although Brodgon’s averaging fewer points and rebounds than Saric, he’s averaging more assists and he’s been far more efficient offensively. On the defensive end, Brogdon has been considerably better than Saric. These award races are very subjective and can be difficult to gauge, but Brogdon seems like a decent value at his current price.
The table below compares the latest odds at 5Dimes, BetOnline, Bovada and Paddy Power. It will be updated as new information becomes available.
|Player||Team||Bovada (4/3)||Bovada (3/9)||Bovada (1/31)||Bovada (1/5)||Bovada (12/1)||Paddy Power (11/7)||5Dimes (10/18)||Paddy Power (10/5)||5Dimes (9/22)||BetOnline (7/19)||5Dimes (7/7)||BetOnline (6/29)||Bovada (6/28)|
The section below was published on June 28th
One of the most interesting names on this list is 76ers center Joel Embiid. The third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Embiid is expected to make his professional debut after missing his first two seasons due to a variety of injuries. The seven-footer from Cameroon is listed at 12/1 to win the Rookie of the Year Award at BetOnline and 7/1 at 5Dimes. Embiid was a promising prospect before his recent rash of injuries and could be an interesting sleeper.
Buddy Hield, who was taken by New Orleans with the sixth overall pick, has the second-best odds (+650) of being named Rookie of the Year at BetOnline, but the fourth-best odds (+800) at 5Dimes. This highlights the importance of always shopping for the best line before placing a wager.
In terms of potential value, I’m intrigued by Lakers forward Brandon Ingram at +650. Some scouts have called Ingram “frail” due to his slight frame, and have speculated that the rangy wingman will get pushed around next season. However, Ingram can easily create his own shot and should have ample opportunity on a young Lakers team looking to find an identity in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s retirement.
Who do you think will win Rookie of the Year? Are oddsmakers overvaluing Simmons? Please leave any thoughts or comments in the comment section below.
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