The 2021-22 NBA season begins October 19 when the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks face the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers meet the Golden State Warriors. Even as contenders jockey for playoff position during the year, there will be a handful of teams worth keeping an eye on due to their talented rookie, or in some cases, rookies. We take a look at the favorite and other contenders for the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year award, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Rookie of the Year 2021-22 odds
The favorite: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons (+250)
Cunningham is going to run the show for the Detroit Pistons this season, who will be going all in on the youth movement. He’s going to split ball-handling duties with Killian Hayes, but Cunningham is as lethal off the ball as he is with it. The Pistons have a solid core in place and hope to have a star in Cunningham to lead the group forward. Expect a gaudy stat line for the Oklahoma State product.
Jalen Green, Houston Rockets: +275
Green made the jump to the NBA after spending time in the G-League last year and looks like the real deal. His scoring immediately comes through and he’ll become a better distributor and ball-handler as time goes on. Green is essentially a co-favorite for this award at +275, but the presence of fellow rookies Alperen Sengun (+1200), Usman Garuba (+8000) and Josh Christopher will make it tougher for him to win the honor.
Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic: +700
Suggs unexpectedly fell to the Orlando Magic on draft night, but the franchise isn’t complaining. The Gonzaga product is on his way to being a force on both ends of the floor, but needs to develop a more consistent shot to take the next step forward. Markelle Fultz will hinder Suggs’ production, but the two should be able to share the floor. With Orlando’s large collection of frontcourt players, Suggs’ assist totals will be through the roof.
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers: +800
Mobley was considered one of the two best prospects in the draft, but fell behind Green in the pre-draft process and ultimately landed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s got the tools to be a dominant big man, but might not find as many minutes as other rookies with Jarrett Allen in the mix. Kevin Love has reportedly avoided a buy-out and wants to stay with the team, creating an additional roadblock in Mobley’s development and chances at Rookie of the Year.
Best bet: Cade Cunningham (+250)
It’s not a lot of fun to pick the clear favorite, but no one else has a clear path to production like Cunningham. Green will put up numbers, but has other rookies with him in Houston. Suggs and Mobley have players ahead of them at their position, and Scottie Barnes simply isn’t an offensive force like the typical Rookie of the Year winner. Take Detroit’s No. 1 overall pick to win this honor, even though the last three winners were not taken first overall.
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