The first inclination when considering the award is to go with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. That honor belongs to Markelle Fultz, who was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers. The NBA Rookie of the Year has been the No. 1 overall pick 21 times, which certainly gives Fultz an advantage over the rest of the field. But not for the 2017-18 NBA season as Fultz ( +500 ) is the third-most likely to capture the honor in recently released odds
2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year odds
Lonzo Ball +250
Ben Simmons +300
Markelle Fultz +500
De’Aaron Fox +700
Jayson Tatum +900
Josh Jackson +900
Dennis Smith Jr. +1600
Jonathan Isaac +1600
Malik Monk +1600
John Collins +2000
Justin Jackson +2200
Lauri Markkanen +2200
Los Angeles Lakers top pick Lonzo Ball is the early favorite to capture the award at +250. Ball has been called “the face of the franchise” by Magic Johnson and will play an immediate role in trying to dig the once proud franchise out from the depths of despair.
According to most draft experts, Ball is the most NBA-ready prospect and will play a significant role in L.A. So much so that the Lakers traded away their 2015 No.1 pick D’Angelo Russell to hand the point guard job to Ball. The spotlight will shine brightly on Ball as the Lakers look to end the darkest period in team history, and handling that is half the battle for him.
We know Ball is a baller, he proved that last year at UCLA, but this isn’t the college game. Ball has been prepped for this for years and that’s why he’s the early favorite. He’ll get some help with Fultz and Ben Simmons splitting votes in Philadelphia.
But don’t shy away from Simmons. He missed the entire 2016-17 season recovering from a foot injury and is eligible for the award this season. Simmons was the consensus No. 1 pick last year and has the game to be a great one. We just don’t know about the injury and how it’ll affect him. The Sixers say he’s ready to go, but he and Fultz will split votes if they play to their ability.
A No. 3 overall pick hasn’t won the NBA Rookie of the Year award since Pau Gasol in 2002 and don’t waste your time on this year’s third pick. Jayson Tatum is a nice player and could become a star in the NBA. Some say he’s the most polished scorer in the 2017 draft class. But the system the Celtics run isn’t going to help him put up the numbers needed to win the award.
It’s easy to go with the high-profile players like Ball, Fultz and Simmons, but there are always sleepers and other variables that make the award a crap shoot. And we don’t know how these kids, many of whom are not of legal drinking in age in most states, will handle the pressure.
Joel Embiid was going to be the runaway winner of the 2017 award until he got injured and played only 31 games last season. He was a bit different than most players up for the award last season as he missed the previous two years dealing with ailments. Simmons would have been the favorite after being the No. 1 pick in 2016, but his foot didn’t comply.
There are underdogs to take a look at and there is a precedent. Michael Carter-Williams was the 11th pick in 2013 and took home the hardware. Back in 1988 Mark Jackson was the 18th overall pick and he won the award.
At No. 7 overall this year, the Chicago Bulls took 7-footer Lauri Markkanen, who graded out as one of the best big men in the draft. Markkanen is a deadly outside shooter and could be likened to Dirk Nowitzki. The Bulls have totally revamped their roster trading away Jimmy Butler and used that pick to grab Markkanen, who should get plenty of minutes. We’ve seen stranger things happen and at +2200, Markkanen is worth the gamble.