By Jason McIntyre
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
It’s never too early to talk NBA Rookie of the Year, especially with the Las Vegas Summer League starting this week. And if you’re looking for potential recruits to bet on for ROY, remember that versatility is key.
Using recent seasons as a guide, it’s safe to say that Rookie of the Year voters aren’t just looking for goalscorers anymore. They want players who stuff the stat sheet.
Scottie Barnes, the 2022 Rookie of the Year, didn’t score like Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green, but he still won the award with his rebounds, assists and defense. It was the same story in 2021 when LaMelo Ball passed Anthony Edwards for the award.
Also make sure to steer clear of guys who operate primarily on the low block. ROY has historically gone to guards or wings – the only greats in the last 16 years to win it were Blake Griffin (2011) and Karl Anthony Towns (2016).
With those two trends in mind, let’s dive into my best bets for the 2022-2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award – with odds provided by FOX Bet.
There are two players I’m placing futures bets on this season: Paolo Banchero (+350 at FOX Bet), the most NBA-ready prospect in the class, and Keegan Murray (+1100 at FOX Bet), who will do a bit of everything for Sacramento.
Banchero will start and instantly be Magic’s best offensive weapon. You don’t select him first overall and then get him off the bench for Franz Wagner. Banchero can switch between small forward, power forward and center in a variety of formations, giving the Magic flexibility and, most importantly for our bet, tons of minutes.
A reasonable expectation for the No. 1 pick is 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game, which is very much on par with what Barnes did last season in Toronto. However, Banchero will be the focal point of the offense, while Barnes was the perfect addition to a team with two All-Stars (Fred Van Fleet and Pascal Siakam).
Operating as the centerpiece of the team, Banchero dropped 17 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in his Summer League debut. Paolo is made for that, and he will have every chance to shine. If he proves his worth, ROY is at a loss. Yes, even on Chet Holmgren, whose odds have already dwindled to winning the prize.
If you’re looking for a long shot to win the prize, look no further than Keegan Murray. The Iowa standout has longer odds than Banchero, and for good reason. Unlike Paolo, Keegan won’t be featured in Sacramento’s offense. The Kings are a growing team led by De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and are expected to fight for a play-in spot. These two guys will be the focal point of the team, but that doesn’t mean Murray can’t contribute.
Murray was college basketball’s analytical darling last season, finishing first in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating stat. His high offensive IQ should continue in a Scottie Barnes-like role for Sacramento where he does all the little things necessary for a team that needs stat sheets.
In the California Classic Summer League, he hit the vaunted 50/40/90 shooting percentages with 19.7 points, 8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Again, it’s only Summer League, but that’s the kind of value it brings to the table.
Granted, he won’t start unless the Kings trade Harrison Barnes, a move more likely to happen just before the All-Star break when a contender looks to add one last veteran piece to the puzzle. Remember, Scottie Barnes’ late-season push saw him pass Evan Mobley and claim the award. A similar scenario could unfold with Murray in Sacramento if Harrison is moved mid-season.
By the way, the last No. 1 pick to win the ROY award was Ben Simmons in 2018 – and he technically wasn’t a rookie after missing his entire first season through injury. So if you’re not thrilled to support a big favorite like Banchero, a pinch on Murray might be the bet for you.
So while everyone goes Holmgren or Smith Jr., give me Banchero or Murray for 2022-23 Rookie of the Year!
TAKE: Paolo Banchero (+250 at FOX Bet) wins Rookie of the Year
LONG-SHOT CHOICES: Keegan Murray (+1100 at FOX Bet) wins Rookie of the Year
Jason McIntyre is a FOX sports betting analyst, and he also writes about the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on all network shows. In 2017, McIntyre began producing NFL, college football, and NBA gaming content for FOX Sports. He had a gaming podcast for FOX, “Coming Up Winners,” in 2018 and 2019. Before coming to FOX, he created The Big Lead website, which he sold in 2010.
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