NBA

NBA Betting: Who Will Win the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year?

The 2020 NBA Draft lived up to expectations on Wednesday night, and as we expected, Anthony Edwards went first overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Despite Edwards being the first pick, FanDuel Sportsbook has made him only the third-favorite to win Rookie of the Year, listing him at +500. The favorite is the Charlotte Hornets' LaMelo Ball, who was selected third overall. Ball comes in at +440 odds, and he is followed by the second overall selection, the Golden State Warriors' James Wiseman, who is at +480. Obi Toppin (+600) and Killian Hayes (+750) are the only other players with odds better than +1400.

Who is the best bet to win the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year? Let's break down the three favorites?

LaMelo Ball (+440)

Ball couldn't have found a better landing spot than Charlotte. Ball can potentially be the face of a Hornets franchise that has struggled to remain relevant. Last season was the most exciting Hornets team in quite some time, loaded with young talents such as Devonte' Graham, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, and Terry Rozier. Adding Ball to that group will surely make this team more fun to watch.

Will they be a lot better? That's another question, and time will tell.

The last four winners for the Rookie of the Year have all been guards, and over the previous three seasons, the winners have averaged a minimum of 15.8 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists over 12 games in the National Basketball League of Australia. If -- and it's a huge if, obviously -- he can sniff those types of numbers as a rookie, Ball will have a great shot to win the award.

James Wiseman (+480)

All three players found ideal homes on draft night, but no situation worked out better than Wiseman's. A week ago, Wiseman landing with the Dubs would've meant playing, at best, third fiddle behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. But with Thompson's unfortunate injury, Wiseman should be asked to do more right from the jump.

Wiseman should be a nice fit, too. The Warriors have had some fantastic rosters in recent seasons, but an athletic big who could score and run is something they've never had. Wiseman can be that dude, and with Curry's shooting helping to space the floor, Wiseman should have room to operate in the paint.

With a shortened preseason and not much college experience under his belt, Wiseman might get slowly worked into the Warriors' system. Golden State can do that because they have a pretty nice team in place even without Klay.

And that leads me to this -- of the guys taken early in the draft, Wiseman has the best shot of being on a winning team. That matters when it comes to awards. Look at Bradley Beal not making an All-NBA Team despite scoring 30.5 points per game.

On the negative side, big men don't win this award very often. Since Emeka Okafor won it in 2005-06, only two bigs have followed suit -- Towns in 2015-16 and Blake Griffin back in 2010-11.

Anthony Edwards (+500)

The Timberwolves took the player most felt was the most pro-ready guy in the draft. Minnesota finished last season 19-45 after starting the season 8-4. What happened after that first stretch is a lot to unpack, but there are some reasons to think this Minnesota team won't be terrible. The biggest two reasons are D'Angelo Russell (D-Lo) and Karl-Anthony Towns, two proven players who can ease Edwards' transition to the league.

While Russell and KAT should be a big help, they may cap Edwards' rookie-year stats, which is the main reason I'm off Edwards for Rookie of the Year.

Edwards' biggest strength in his lone college season was his scoring ability as he averaged 19.1 points per game. But he put up just 2.8 assists per night along with 5.2 boards, so his only path to winning this award might be through scoring. That's not promising.

Only three rookies since 2009-10 -- Tyreke Evans, Griffin and Luka Doncic -- have averaged more than 20 points per game as a rookie. And even if Edwards is capable of filling it up, will there be enough shots there for him in Year 1? Russell and KAT had usage rates of 29.5% and 28.8%, respectively, a year ago.

I like Edwards as a player, but I don't fancy him for this award.

The Pick -- Wiseman

It's fair to expect all three rookies to start slowly after what has been a rushed offseason. This class won't have near the prep time with their teams before the regular season starts that previous draft classes have had.

But I think by the end of the year, Wiseman has a chance to run away with this award.

His skill-set fills a need for the Warriors, and Golden State -- even sans Thompson -- should be a quality team. FanDuel Sportsbook has them +1200 to win the West, the fifth-best odds. The fit and Wiseman getting to play for a winning team are the reasons I'm backing him over Edwards and Ball. Those two, specifically Ball, may wind up with slightly better stats, but I think Wiseman takes home the Rookie of the Year.