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Smith Closing In On Ball For Rookie of the Year

In an NBA Summer League that featured plenty of memorable performances, two players stood head and shoulders above the rest. Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks stepped in and immediately showed their respective fan bases what they had in store for the future.

Ball, the second overall pick in the NBA draft, averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game en route to winning the Las Vegas Summer League MVP. We got to witness the majesty of Ball’s passing abilities in full display during the summer league but we also saw some of his flaws. The favorite to win the rookie of the year award struggled shooting the ball and wasn’t able to create much separation in the halfcourt.

This all may be a moot point because Ball still put up ridiculous numbers despite his flaws. If Ball can continue to produce like this in the NBA, his flaws won’t matter.

Smith, the other star point guard of the Summer League, showed why he was once looked at as a potential first overall pick. The Mavs guard averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game but most impressive was his ridiculous athleticism. His explosiveness and ability to create his own shot were never in doubt but Smith also showed he can distribute the ball as well. Adjusting to the speed of the NBA will likely take some time for Smith but he clearly ended up in the best possible situation to thrive.

We also had the luxury of watching these two court generals face off already in their young careers. The semifinals game, which the Lakers ultimately won 108-98, saw Ball and Smith go right after each other. Ball, who left the game in the third quarter due to a calf strain, tallied 16 points, 10 assists and four rebounds while shooting 5-for-7 from the floor. Not to be outdone, Smith recorded 21 points to go along with six assists and three rebounds.

Not that long ago, the future looked bleak for both the Lakers and the Mavericks. Now, thanks to the amazing play of these young point guards, things don’t look so bad anymore. 

Who will win the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year Award?

Odds as of July 20 at Bovada

  • Lonzo Ball (LAL) +250
  • Dennis Smith Jr. (DAL) +300
  • Ben Simmons (PHI) +375
  • Jayson Tatum (BOS) +500
  • Markelle Fultz (PHI) +1000
  • De’Aaron Fox (SAC) +1000
  • Malik Monk (CHA) +1600
  • Josh Jackson (PHX) +1600
  • Jonathan Isaac (ORL) +3300
  • Justin Jackson (SAC) +3300
  • Lauri Markkanen (CHI) +3300
  • John Collins (ATL) +3300

Archived Articles

The dust from the NBA draft has barely settled and we already have odds on which of the newest members of the exclusive fraternity will win the Rookie of the Year Award. The field may be more competitive this season than any in recent memory; at the very least, it will be better than last season’s lackluster crop.

Lonzo Ball, now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, finds himself as a +250 favorite to win the 2017-18 ROY. Magic Johnson and company made sure everyone knew the offense was going to run through Ball when they traded away D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets in the days leading into the draft. The eldest Ball brother is an incredibly creative distributor of the ball who can single-handedly reinvent an offense. Plus, if his shot carries over from the college ranks, Ball could quickly become a lethal offensive player in the league. He’s far from perfect, as there are questions about his shot, willingness to play defense and his ability to run an offense in the halfcourt, but Ball is in prime position to win the rookie of the year.

Ball’s stiffest competition will come from a pair of Philly teammates, as Ben Simmons (+300) and Markelle Fultz (+550) have the second- and third-best odds.

Simmons was one of the most widely sought-after players from the collegiate circuit in recent memory but he missed all of last season after breaking his foot in training camp. The LSU product brings a unique combination of size, fluid movement and quickness that has rarely been seen in the NBA. His shot is still janky, but as a rim-running bucket-getter in transition, he is ridiculous.

Fultz is viewed by some as the best point guard prospect to come along in years. The first overall pick in the 2017 draft is extremely athletic and has an explosive first step to run the floor. He also runs a pick-and-roll amazingly well for a player of his age. The tandem of Fultz and Simmons is going to be a handful for any opposing backcourt to try to defend.

The best value I see at the moment is Dennis Smith (+700). The newest member of the Dallas Mavericks may be the most athletic point guard in a draft class full of athletic point guards. He has shifty moves and has flashed the potential to be a good passer in the NBA but he is going to make his money scoring buckets. Smith loves driving the paint and blowing past defenders but still relies very heavily on his athleticism. There isn’t much immediate competition for Smith to win the starting PG spot in Dallas, though head coach Rick Carlisle has been hesitant to start rookies in the past.

Who will win the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year Award?

Odds as of June 26 at Bovada

  • Lonzo Ball (LAL) +250
  • Ben Simmons (PHI) +300
  • Markelle Fultz (PHI) +550
  • De’Aaron Fox (SAC) +700
  • Dennis Smith (DAL) +700
  • Malik Monk (CHA) +900
  • Josh Jackson (PHX) +1200
  • Jayson Tatum (BOS) +1600
  • Jonathan Isaac (ORL) +2500
  • Justin Jackson (SAC) +3300
  • Lauri Markkanen (CHI) +3300
  • John Collins (ATL) +5000

Archived Articles

The NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award seemed to be all but over through January due to the stellar play of Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid, but since he suffered a season-ending meniscus tear, the waters have been extremely muddied.

Sixers power forward Dario Saric is the -165 favorite at 5Dimes, with Malcolm Brogdon (+235) and Embiid (+454) listed as the only other candidates at the shop.

While Embiid posted some eye-popping stats (20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in 25.4 minutes per game) and he’s undisputedly the runaway winner based strictly on numbers, it’s impossible to ignore that he played in just a third of the 76ers’ games. Can the league really give the distinction to a player who missed so much time? I’m not so sure.

That leaves Embiid’s teammate, Saric. Saric was having a decent season until Ersan Ilyasova was traded to the Atlanta Hawks at the trade deadline, and he absolutely took off. From the all-star break on, the Croatian averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists — a huge spike over his pre-all-star 10.8 points, 5.9 boards and 1.8 dimes averages.

Second-rounders are often perceived as “throwaway” picks in the NBA, but Brogdon defied that logic in a big way in 2016-17. Brogdon was a steady presence in the Milwaukee Bucks’ backcourt and blew preseason expectations out of the water. He was one of only 22 players — and the only rookie — to shoot at least 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown while scoring more than 10 points per night.

When it comes to importance to his team, Brogdon’s impact cannot be denied. The Bucks posted a net rating of plus-2.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor while getting outscored by 1.7 points per 100 possessions without him.

The Rookie of the Year Award will be unveiled as part of the NBA’s first awards show on June 26 in New York City.

Who will win the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Award?

Odds as of April 26 at 5Dimes

  • Dario Saric -165
  • Malcolm Brogdon +235
  • Joel Embiid +454

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There was a point in the NBA season when the Rookie of the Year Award was all but over before the all-star break. But thanks to a devastating season-ending injury to Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid, the competition for the hardware has reopened.

A little over a month ago, I wrote about how the award was Embiid’s to lose, and his -2500 odds were pretty solid evidence of that. Before going down with a knee injury in late January, the Cameroon native was putting up eye-popping numbers (20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game) in limited minutes while transforming the long-dormant Sixers into a formidable basketball team.

Considering Embiid only managed to play 31 games, it’s going to be tough for the MVP voters to give him the bragging rights. By the end of the season, he will have been on the court for less than 20 percent of the 76ers’ minutes.

On March 9, Bovada reopened its NBA Rookie of the Year odds with Embiid’s teammate Dario Saric as the -200 favorite. Malcolm Brogdon (+300), Embiid (+375), Marquese Chriss (+1000) and Buddy Hield (+1000) are also available to wager on.

Here’s a breakdown of Saric and Brogdon’s chances to become the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year:

The emergence of Dario Saric

Saric has done an excellent job of shouldering the load on the talent-deprived 76ers in the wake of Embiid’s injury, as the Croatian leads all rookies in points (11.6), rebounds (6.3) and 3-point attempts (4) per game while ranking fifth in assists (2.1).

Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown has given Saric a major increase in minutes of late, and the 22-year-old has rewarded him in a big way. Saric is averaging 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists since February 8. He was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month in February, which is no doubt the reason he’s become the odds-on favorite.

Saric has been extremely durable, as he hasn’t missed a game this season. He deserves to be the front-runner and, barring injury, should be crowned the Rookie of the Year at the end of the campaign.

Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks sensation

Arguably the biggest surprise of the season, Brogdon has seemingly come out of nowhere to become a vital piece of the Milwaukee Bucks’ rotation. The 24-year-old second-round pick has fit in seamlessly with the young Bucks, becoming a reliable option for head coach Jason Kidd to play alongside superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Brogdon is solid in just about every facet of the game, and the Bucks are clearly a much better team with him on the court. The University of Virginia product’s star has shone especially bright since the oft-injured Jabari Parker was once again ruled out for the year after tearing his ACL in early February.

While the talent pool for this season’s race is lacking compared with previous years, it’s tough to argue the case for Brogdon over Saric. Brogdon is averaging 9.9 points and 4 assists, and unless he ramps up that production from now until the end of the year, it likely won’t happen. No one averaging fewer than 11 points per game has won Rookie of the Year in the modern NBA era, so past trends aren’t working in his favor.

2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Award Odds

Odds as of March 9 at Bovada

  • Dario Saric -200
  • Malcolm Brogdon +300
  • Joel Embiid +375
  • Marquese Chriss +1000
  • Buddy Hield +1000

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There are still two and a half months remaining in the 2016-17 NBA season, but there's no question which young gun will win the Rookie of the Year Award.

Joel Embiid's chances of winning the hardware came in at +600 back in October, but he's now an astronomical -2500 favorite to earn the bragging rights at Bovada. Malcolm Brogdon (+2000), Ben Simmons (+2500), Jamal Murray (+3300), Brandon Ingram (+3300), Buddy Hield (+3300), Dario Saric (+3300) and Pascal Siakam (+3300) were also available to bet on as of February 1.

Embiid's transformation from unknown product to one of the best big men in the league in a matter of months has truly been something to behold. The Cameroon native is averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 46.6 percent from the field in limited action.

As a result, the Philadelphia 76ers are looking like a legitimate basketball team again for the first time in recent memory and occupy the 13th spot in the Eastern Conference with an 18-29 record.

It really is saying something about the top-heavy talent of this year's rookie class when Simmons has the third-best odds to win the Rookie of the Year Award before playing a single game. The first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by Philadelphia underwent foot surgery before the season started but is expected to make his Sixers debut very soon.

2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

Odds as of February 1 at Bovada

  • Joel Embiid -2500
  • Malcolm Brogdon +2000
  • Ben Simmons +2500
  • Jamal Murray +3300
  • Brandon Ingram +3300
  • Buddy Hield +3300
  • Dario Saric +3300
  • Pascal Siakam +3300

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Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Kris Dunn was the favorite to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award when the campaign tipped off, but it’s already become a one-man race after only a month for a man who calls himself “The Process.”

Joel Embiid is the new -400 fave to garner the bragging rights at Bovada, with Jamal Murray (+900), Dunn (+1000), Brandon Ingram (+1400), Dario Saric (+1600), Buddy Hield (+1600) and Ben Simmons (+3000) behind him. Embiid was +600 at the start of the year.

There were major question marks surrounding Embiid, which was bound to happen considering the big man was forced to miss two seasons due to various foot injuries after getting drafted with the third overall pick in 2014. But the native of Cameroon has silenced the doubters by averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in his first 12 contests.

What’s even more impressive is he’s been able to do it on a minutes restriction. The 22-year-old is playing only 22.8 minutes per game, as the Sixers organization eases him into the NBA workload after being sidelined for so long. Injuries are always going to be a concern for Embiid when you factor in his history, but as long as he stays healthy, it looks like the Rookie of the Year race won’t be nearly as competitive as many expected.

Is there value in backing anyone else on the board? Simmons is an interesting shot at +3000, but he may have already missed too much time to overtake any of the other players on the list. Simmons hasn’t played a regular season game yet after going down with a broken foot in the preseason.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown told reporters on December 1 that the LSU product will be the team’s point guard when he returns, so it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

Murray and Dunn have both made a seamless transition to the pro game, and it’s a toss-up as to which one would become the ROY fave if Embiid suffers another serious injury. Murray would be my preference between the two, as the Canadian has already earned the trust of Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone and is averaging 10.4 points and 22.2 minutes per game.

2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

Odds as of December 2 at Bovada

  • Joel Embiid (PHI) -400
  • Jamal Murray (DEN) +900
  • Kris Dunn (MIN) +1000
  • Brandon Ingram (LAL) +1400
  • Dario Saric (PHI) +1600
  • Buddy Hield (NO) +1600
  • Ben Simmons (PHI) +3000

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The Philadelphia 76ers were dealt a major blow when prized rookie Ben Simmons suffered a fracture in his foot in preseason play, sidelining him for at least three months. In light of the news, oddsmakers were forced to quickly adjust.

Simmons, who was a +150 favorite to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award prior to the injury, has seen his odds drop to +400 at 5Dimes. Minnesota’s Kris Dunn is the new front-runner at +350, with New Orleans’ Buddy Hield right behind him at +375.

After Simmons, it’s Brandon Ingram (+550), Joel Embiid (+600), Denzel Valentine (+1600), Jamal Murray (+2000), Thon Maker (+2000), Wade Baldwin (+2500) and Marquese Chriss (+2500) rounding out the top 10.

Since Summer League, it seems any well-connected person around the Association can’t stop raving about Dunn. The Providence product is technically behind Ricky Rubio on the Timberwolves’ depth chart, but there’s plenty of speculation that Rubio will be dealt to make way for the 22-year-old.

Hield didn’t have a good Summer League, but that’s in the rear-view mirror now. The Pelicans are perennially bitten by the injury bug, and that should create even more room for Hield in Alvin Gentry’s system. The Bahamian may struggle out of the gate, but once he finds his footing, his numbers – and odds – will rise.

Embiid at +600 is still my favorite pick on the board. The hulking seven-footer is finally healthy, and the rest of the NBA has been put on notice. Embiid dominated in the preseason while silencing critics who claimed he was the next Greg Oden. Philly’s frontcourt is crowded, but don’t let that deter you. This guy is the real deal.

2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

Odds as of October 13 at 5Dimes

  • Kris Dunn +350
  • Buddy Hield +375
  • Ben Simmons +400
  • Brandon Ingram +550
  • Joel Embiid +600
  • Denzel Valentine +1600
  • Jamal Murray +2000
  • Thon Maker +2000
  • Wade Baldwin +2500
  • Marquese Chriss +2500
  • Jaylen Brown +3000
  • Caris Levert +3500
  • Domantas Sabonis +3500
  • Dragan Bender +3500
  • Malachi Richardson +4000
  • Jakob Poeltl +4000
  • Taurean Prince +4000

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The 2016-17 NBA season is only a month away, and sportsbooks are gearing up for another exciting year on the hardwood. When it comes to Rookie of the Year Award odds, one youngster is far and away ahead of the pack.

At Bovada, Ben Simmons is a +150 favorite to claim the hardware. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers was recently referred to as a “LeBron-type player” by Shaquille O’Neal, and it’s hard to argue with that statement. Simmons has all of the tools, drive and opportunity on a bad team to put up some gaudy numbers in his debut campaign.

If you were going to knock Simmons on anything, it would be his skinny frame. But on September 26, the proud Australian told reporters he had bulked up to 250 lbs during the summer. Simmons came in at 217 lbs at LSU, so that's a scary thought for the rest of the league.

Brandon Ingram (+650), Kris Dunn (+700), Joel Embiid (+900), Buddy Hield (+1400), Denzel Valentine (+1800), Jaylen Brown (+2000), Jamal Murray (+2000), Thon Maker (+2000) and Domantas Sabonis (+2500) round out the top 10 at the shop.

In a poll done by the incoming rookie class, it’s Dunn who has the best chance to become the Rookie of the Year according to NBA.com. Dunn is joining a Minnesota Timberwolves team that’s on the rise, and it’s only a matter of time before he replaces Ricky Rubio as the starting point guard. The Providence product averaged 24 points per game on 54 percent shooting in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Looking for value? Consider Simmons’ teammate, Joel Embiid. Due to a litany of injuries that forced him to sit out for two years, many people forget that Embiid is technically still a rookie. The 22-year-old appears to be finally healthy, and he could be one of the year’s most surprising players if he can piece it together.

Check out the list of odds here. Who are you putting your money on?

2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

Odds as of September 28 at Bovada

  • Ben Simmons (PHI) +150
  • Brandon Ingram (LAL) +650
  • Kris Dunn (MIN) +700
  • Joel Embiid (PHI) +900
  • Buddy Hield (NO) +1400
  • Denzel Valentine (CHI) +1800
  • Jaylen Brown (BOS) +2000
  • Jamal Murray (DEN) +2000
  • Thon Maker (MIL) +2000
  • Domantas Sabonis (OKC) +2500
  • Taurean Prince (ATL) +2500
  • Brice Johnson (LAC) +2500
  • Wade Baldwin (MEM) +3300
  • Dragen Bender (PHO) +3300
  • Caris LeVert (BKN) +5000
  • Marquese Chriss (PHO) +5000
  • Malachi Richardson (SAC) +5000
  • Kay Felder (CLE) +5000
  • Jakob Poeltl (TOR) +5000

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