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2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds: LaMelo Back As Fave After Return

LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets is back to being the favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year.

The 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year odds race seems to be a two-player affair and after Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball returned to the lineup, oddsmakers wasted no time putting him back as the odds-on favorite to win the award.

According to the best basketball betting sites, Ball is now the -800 favorite (88.9 percent implied probability) to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Ball was as good as advertised after being picked third overall by the Hornets in the 2020 NBA Draft, averaging 15.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, and is the only rookie to put up a triple-double so far this season.

Ball’s ROY odds were as high as -1000 after the all-star break but dropped as low as +250 after he got injured.

As for Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was already quietly creeping up the NBA ROY odds list before the LaMelo injury and leads all rookies in points per game at 18.9. The rookie had odds as low as +1800 to win the award prior to the Ball injury and is now +350 to “steal” it back after jumping to the top of the oddsboard while the Hornet was hurt.

Who Will Win NBA Rookie of the Year in 2021?

2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year Award Odds
LaMelo Ball-800
Anthony Edwards+350
Tyrese Haliburton+6600
Immanuel Quickley+10000
Patrick Williams+30000
Saddiq Bey+35000
Aleksej Pokusevski+50000
Desmond Bane+50000

Odds as of May 7 at Bovada

Why LaMelo Ball Is The ROY Favorite

When LaMelo Ball got hurt vs the Los Angeles Clippers on March 20, bettors likely weren’t thinking he was out for the season and NBA Rookie of the Year odds were going to get flipped. Before it was announced that he had broken a bone in his hand, the rookie was a no-brainer NBA ROY odds fave as the wiry guard was a threat from all angles on the court with his pinpoint passing and his propensity to pull up in transition and bomb from behind the three-point arc.

Well, he’s returned to the court for four games since the injury and looks to be his usual flashy self and has led the team in assists in two of those games. His presence could be huge for a stretch run with the Hornets to help lead them to the playoffs. Prior to the injury, he was only playing 28.9 minutes a night but leading the team in steals and assists, with his 6.2 dimes ranking 23rd in the NBA. What he can do on the court and his feel for the game is infectious among his teammates.

Another reason why he has the edge over the likes of first overall pick Anthony Edwards is the standings. The Hornets are 32-34 SU for eighth place in the Eastern Conference and were doing a lot of their damage as underdogs, going 18-27 SU in games when they weren’t favored. The Timberwolves, on the other hand, are a lowly 20-46 SU this season in 66 games.

However, I don’t think Ball’s case to win NBA Rookie of the Year is a slam dunk as the -800 odds indicate. His return came with only about 10 games left in the regular season and while he has stats to back up his case, he’ll still need to be rotated back into the lineup and there’s always a chance for re-injury. That leaves the door open for Anthony Edwards.

Will Anthony Edwards Win NBA Rookie of the Year?

After being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards is slowly justifying his draft status. The Georgia product averaged only 13.3 points per game in the opening month of the season while shooting a putrid 35.8 percent from the floor.

It obviously didn’t help his case that his supporting cast of Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell were missing games and putting the rookie in a difficult spot to feel out his first few weeks as an NBA player. Fast-forward to now and Edwards looks more comfortable as a primary scoring option for Minnesota.

Since the beginning of March (32 games), Edwards is averaging 24.1 points and has scored 20 points or more in 22 of them. It hasn’t translated to a winning record in the standings (14-18 SU in that stretch) but the Timberwolves have to feel vindicated for sticking to their guns and not caving to the pressure to draft LaMelo or James Wiseman.

Like all rookies, Edwards is going to make some dumb decisions and have horrible shot selection. It’s part of the initiation into the NBA. The part of Edwards’ game that can’t be replicated by other rooks is his jaw-dropping athleticism, which has been on full display recently with jaw-dropping dunks in traffic. 

Given that the Timberwolves don’t have much to play for this season and Edwards is healthy (a key point here), he should still be the betting favorite in NBA Rookie of the Year odds as no other first-year player has the greenest of lights like Edwards does to fire away on offense.

Understanding NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

When you go to any basketball sportsbook, you’ll see prop odds displayed like this:

LaMelo Ball +400

Anthony Edwards +450

James Wiseman +500

You’ll see that Ball is the front-runner because he has the lowest number beside his name. In this scenario, he is considered to be the slight favorite over Edwards, who is listed at +450.

If you think Edwards will win Rookie of the Year, and you bet $100 on him, you’d get a payout of $550 – your original money is returned coupled with your winnings of $450. To find out what you’d get based on the odds and betting amount, check out our Odds Calculator.

What is a Prop Bet on NBA Rookies?

Any bet that is made on the occurrence or non-occurrence of certain player or team milestones that don’t necessarily correlate to the result of a particular game is a prop. In this case, you’re betting on a player’s chances of winning Rookie of the Year.

The oddsmakers will move the lines as the season progresses. As more games are played and different players show their skills on the court, the odds will shift. If you see odds you like, it’s best to take them early so you can get the most value should you win your bet.