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 scouting potential rookies to wager on for ROY, remember versatility is key.
Using recent seasons as a guide, it’s safe to say Rookie of the Year voters aren’t just looking for scorers 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 captured the award thanks to his rebounding, passing and defense. It was the same story in 2021 when LaMelo Ball topped Anthony Edwards for the award.
Also, be sure to stay away from guys who mainly operate on the low block. ROY historically has gone to guards or wings — the only bigs in the last 16 years to win it were Blake Griffin (2011) and Karl Anthony Towns (2016).
Keeping these two trends in mind, let’s dive into my best bets for the 2022-2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award — with odds courtesy of FOX Bet.
There are two players I’m placing futures wagers on this upcoming 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 is going to start and instantly be the Magic’s best offensive weapon. You don’t select him first overall and then have him come off the bench for Franz Wagner. Banchero can toggle between small forward, power forward and center in a variety of lineups, 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 right on par with what Barnes did last season in Toronto. However, Banchero will be the focal point of the offense, whereas Barnes was the perfect complement to a team with two All-Stars (Fred Van Fleet and Pascal Siakam).
Operating as the team’s centerpiece, Banchero dropped 17 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in his Summer League debut. Paolo was made for this, and he will be given every opportunity to shine. If he proves his worth, ROY is his to lose. Yes, even over Chet Holmgren, whose odds have already dipped to win the award.
If you are looking for a long shot to win the award, look no further than Keegan Murray. The Iowa standout has longer odds than Banchero, and for good reason. Unlike Paolo, Keegan is not going to be featured in Sacramento’s offense. The Kings are an improving team led by De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and should contend for a play-in spot. Both of those guys will be the team’s focal point, but that doesn’t mean Murray can’t contribute.
Murray was the analytics darling of college basketball last season, finishing first in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating stat. His high offensive IQ should carry over in a Scottie Barnes-like role for Sacramento where he does all the little things needed for a team in need of stat sheet stuffers.
In the California Classic Summer League, he reached the vaunted 50/40/90 shooting percentages with 19.7 points, 8 rebounds and 1.3 steals a game. Again, this is only Summer League, but this is the type of value he brings to the table.
Granted, he will not start unless the Kings trade Harrison Barnes, a move more likely to happen right before the All-Star break when a contender is looking to add a final veteran piece to the puzzle. Remember, Scottie Barnes’ late-season push enabled him to overtake Evan Mobley and capture the award. A similar scenario may unfold with Murray in Sacramento if Harrison is moved by midseason.
On a side note, 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 due to injury. So if you’re not thrilled about backing a heavy favorite like Banchero, a sprinkle on Murray might be the wager for you.
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 every show on the network. In 2017, McIntyre began producing gambling content on the NFL, college football and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a gambling podcast for FOX, “Coming Up Winners,” in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the website The Big Lead, which he sold in 2010.
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