With the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic selected Paolo Banchero. For the average fan watching the draft at home, this was somewhat of a surprise, not because Banchero doesn’t have the talent worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick, but because in the days leading up to the draft, the Magic were rumored to be taking Auburn’s Jabari Smith.
Fast forward six months and I’d say the Magic are probably pretty pleased with their selection, who is the heavy odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year.
Smith fell all the way to No. 3 before the Houston Rockets snatched him up. The 6-foot, 11-inch power forward has also fallen in the NAB Rookie of the Year odds. He is now at +15000.
Rookie of the Year Odds (make a chart here)
|Jabari Smith Jr.
Odds courtesy of BetRivers
Through the first 25 games of the season, Banchero has proven to be one of, if not the most, versatile player in the draft. He leads Orlando in scoring with 21.8 points per game, ranks third in assists and fourth in rebounding. He had a stint where he had to sit out seven games with a sprained ankle, but seems to have rebounded well from the injury.
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Banchero Shows Special Skills
Banchero’s ability to get to the basket, knock down shots from outside and create opportunities for his teammates has him at the top of the Rookie of the Year race.
Banchero leading the pack doesn’t come as too much of a surprise because that’s exactly where he was before the season opened. However, he went from +200 at the start of the season to -550 after just the opening quarter of the year. He is now at -400.
The next shortest odds belong to Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin who sits at +250 after opening at +800. Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray, who was just behind Banchero at +450 to start the year, is now at +15000. Jaden Ivey of the Detroit Pistons has moved up to the third choice at +3000.
In other words, this award is Banchero’s to lose. And if that were to be the case, Mathurin would be the most likely candidate to take over.
Mathurin, who the Pacers selected sixth overall, has been one of the biggest surprises among rookies this season. He leads all rookies in points scored and is leading the entire NBA in bench scoring. He also leads rookies in three-pointers made, free throws made, and free throws attempted. All that said, Mathurin is still quite a ways behind Banchero in the odds race. As the season wears on, however, Mathurin could shorten those odds.
Rookie of the Year not a Lock
So, that’s it? Rookie of the Year is locked up? Not so fast. It’s important to remember that we’re only around 25 games into the NBA season and there is plenty of time for a shake-up.
Banchero also already dealt with a minor injury earlier this month and if that were to linger or get worse he could miss time, which would hurt him in the race.
Mathurin also has the advantage of being on the better of the two teams. Much of Indiana’s success this season can be attributed to the contributions they’ve received from their rookie. If Mathurin can continue to elevate the Pacers and help them stay in the playoff picture, that would go a long way toward him receiving more votes.
There isn’t any value in betting on Banchero at the number he’s at now, but if you’re a Mathurin backer, his number is only likely to shrink. It might be a good time to put some money down on Mathurin.
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