2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Predictions, Picks, & Betting Odds

NBA Rookie of the Year 2021

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2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook 08 February 2021.

PlayerTeamOdds
LaMelo BallCharlotte Hornets-250
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Tyrese HaliburtonSacramento Kings+300
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Immanuel QuickleyNew York Knicks+800
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Anthony EdwardsMinnesota Timberwolves+800
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James WisemanGolden State Warriors+800
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Cole AnthonyOrlando Magic+2000
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Tyrese MaxeyPhiladelphia 76ers+8000
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Payton PritchardBoston Celtics+8000
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Obi ToppinNew York Knicks+8000
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For the past two years, the NBA Rookie of the Year Award has been presented at the annual NBA Awards show. Presented by the NBA in partnership with Turner Sports, the NBA Awards were held in late-June after the NBA Playoffs. Initiated in the 1952-1953 season, a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters from across the United States and Canada have decided the winner.

The winner of the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Award will be the 68th winner in the league’s history. The award is expected to be presented upon the conclusion of the NBA regular season. Unlike the MVP Award, the Rookie of the Year Award winner’s chances have little to do with their team’s success. Due to this, oddsmakers and sports bettors can look at hard stats as a guide toward the winner.

We’ll be going over the top NBA Rookie of the Year odds and predictions. It’s an exciting award that highlights some of the league’s rising talents and future stars. Many Rookies of the Year award winners have gone on to stellar NBA careers.

First, let’s answer some of the most important questions about the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.

Who Is the Favorite to Win Rookie of the Year in 2021?

(G) LaMelo Ball – 6-6, 180lbs (198cm, 81kg) – USA

SeasonTeamAgeGamesMPGPPGRPGAPGSPGBPGFG%3P%
2020-2021CHA192025.112.25.96.11.50.4.431.299


Currently rated as the favorite to win the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, the polarizing LaMelo Ball has been performing brilliantly despite coming off of the bench. Still, a young player with much to learn about running an NBA offense, Ball’s natural skill is shining through despite playing behind veterans Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham.

Ball is a do-it-all type of point guard, posting 12.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds through 20 games. His Jason Kidd-Esque production bodes well for his future, as well as his chances for the Rookie of the Year award.

His biggest obstacle to attaining the award will be his role as well as some off-court concerns for the polarizing rookie. As a backup to two solid point guards, Ball sees his minutes fluctuate based on the performance of his seniors. Not to mention the presence of his father Lavar Ball, who has already spoken for him in regards to demanding a trade for a bigger role.

Who Was the 2020 Rookie of the Year?


The winner of the 2020 Rookie of the Year award was none other than the Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant. The dynamic point guard was a force in his debut season, outplaying NBA darling Zion Williamson and falling just short of the playoffs via the Play-In Tournament.

Morant led his Memphis Grizzlies to a 34-39 regular-season record. A record that was just 32-32 before the NBA resumed its season in the Orlando bubble.

In terms of voting, Morant won by a landslide with 99 of a possible 100 first-place votes. A single first-place vote for Zion Williamson prevented Morant from joining the would-be six-man group as unanimous Rookie of the Year award winners.

NBA Rookie of the Year by Year

Here is a list of the NBA Rookie of the Year winners by year:

YearPlayerNationalityTeamDraft PickDraft Year
2020Ja MorantUnited StatesMemphis Grizzlies2nd Overall2019
2019Luka DoncicSloveniaDallas Mavericks3rd Overall2018
2018Ben SimmonsAustraliaPhiladelphia 76ers1st Overall2016
2017Malcolm BrogdonUnited StatesMilwaukee Bucks36th Overall2016
2016Karl-Anthony TownsDominican RepublicMinnesota Timberwolves1st Overall2015
2015Andrew WigginsCanadaMinnesota Timberwolves1st Overall2014
2014Michael Carter-WilliamsUnited StatesPhiladelphia 76ers11th Overall2013
2013Damian LillardUnited StatesPortland Trail Blazers6th Overall2012
2012Kyrie IrvingUnited StatesCleveland Cavaliers1st Overall2011
2011Blake GriffinUnited StatesLA Clippers1st Overall2009
2010Tyreke EvansUnited StatesSacramento Kings4th Overall2009
2009Derrick RoseUnited StatesChicago Bulls1st Overall2008
2008Kevin DurantUnited StatesSeattle SuperSonics2nd Overall2007
2007Brandon RoyUnited StatesPortland Trail Blazers6th Overall2006
2006Chris PaulUnited StatesNew Orleans/Oklahoma City Thunder4th Overall2005
2005Emeka OkaforUnited StatesCharlotte Bobcats2nd Overall2004
2004LeBron JamesUnited StatesCleveland Cavaliers1st Overall2003
2003Amar’e StoudemireUnited StatesPhoenix Suns9th Overall2002
2002Pau GasolSpainMemphis Grizzlies3rd Overall2001
2001Mike MillerUnited StatesOrlando Magic5th Overall2000
2000Elton Brand/Steve FrancisUnited StatesChicago Bulls/Houston Rockets1st Overall/2nd Overall1999
1999Vince CarterUnited StatesToronto Raptors5th Overall1998
1998Tim DuncanUnited StatesSan Antonio Spurs1st Overall1997
1997Allen IversonUnited StatesPhiladelphia 76ers1st Overall1996
1996Damon StoudamireUnited StatesToronto Raptors7th Overall1995
1995Grant Hill/Jason KiddUnited StatesDetroit Pistons/Dallas Mavericks3rd Overall/2nd Overall1994
1994Chris WebberUnited StatesGolden State Warriors1st Overall1993
1993Shaquille O’NealUnited StatesOrlando Magic1st Overall1992
1992Larry JohnsonUnited StatesCharlotte Hornets1st Overall1991
1991Derrick ColemanUnited StatesNew Jersey Nets1st Overall1990
1990David RobinsonUnited StatesSan Antonio Spurs1st Overall1987
1989Mitch RichmondUnited StatesGolden State Warriors5th Overall1988
1988Mark JacksonUnited StatesNew York Knicks18th Overall1987
1987Chuck PersonUnited StatesIndiana Pacers4th Overall1986
1986Patrick EwingUnited StatesNew York Knicks1st Overall1985
1985Michael JordanUnited StatesChicago Bulls3rd Overall1984
1984Ralph SampsonUnited StatesHouston Rockets1st Overall1983
1983Terry CummingsUnited StatesSan Diego Clippers2nd Overall1982
1982Buck WilliamsUnited StatesNew Jersey Nets3rd Overall1981
1981Darrell GriffithUnited StatesUtah Jazz2nd Overall1980
1980Larry BirdUnited StatesBoston Celtics6th Overall1978
1979Phil FordUnited StatesKansas City Kings2nd Overall1978
1978Walter DavisUnited StatesPhoenix Suns5th Overall1977
1977Adrian DantleyUnited StatesBuffalo Braves6th Overall1976
1976Alvan AdamsUnited StatesPhoenix Suns4th Overall1975
1975Jamaal WilkesUnited StatesGolden State Warriors11th Overall1974
1974Ernie DiGregorioUnited StatesBuffalo Braves3rd Overall1973
1973Bob McAdooUnited StatesBuffalo Braves2nd Overall1972
1972Sidney WicksUnited StatesPortland Trail Blazers2nd Overall1971
1971Dave Cowens/Geoff PetrieUnited StatesBoston Celtics/Portland Trail Blazers4th Overall/8th Overall1970
1970Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)United StatesMilwaukee Bucks1st Overall1969
1969Wes UnseldUnited StatesBaltimore Bullets2nd Overall1968
1968Earl MonroeUnited StatesBaltimore Bullets2nd Overall1967
1967Dave BingUnited StatesDetroit Pistons2nd Overall1966
1966Rick BarryUnited StatesSan Francisco Warriors2nd Overall1965
1965Willis ReedUnited StatesNew York Knicks8th Overall1964
1964Jerry LucasUnited StatesCincinnati RoyalsTerritorial Pick1962
1963Terry DischingerUnited StatesChicago Zephyrs8th Overall1962
1962Walt BellamyUnited StatesChicago Packers1st Overall1961
1961Oscar RobertsonUnited StatesCincinnati Royals1st Overall/Territorial Pick1960
1960Wilt ChamberlainUnited StatesPhiladelphia WarriorsTerritorial Pick1959
1959Elgin BaylorUnited StatesMinneapolis Lakers1st Overall1958
1958Woody SauldsberryUnited StatesPhiladelphia Warriors60th Overall1957
1957Tom HeinsohnUnited StatesBoston CelticsTerritorial Pick1956
1956Maurice StokesUnited StatesRochester Royals2nd Overall1955
1955Bob PettitUnited StatesMilwaukee Hawks2nd Overall1954
1954Ray FelixUnited StatesBaltimore Bullets1st Overall1953
1953Don MeinekeUnited StatesFort Wayne Pistons12th Overall1952

Does the NBA Rookie of the Year Receive A Prize?

The winner of the NBA Rookie of the Year award doesn’t receive a prize per se. In recognition of their accomplishment, the winner is awarded the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy – named after the former Philadelphia Warriors coach. In terms of cash incentives or bonuses, there are none.

While rookie-scale contracts have few built-in bonuses like more veteran players, rookies can still earn a bonus by fulfilling certain tasks throughout their season. For example, in 2016 Karl-Anthony Towns earned an additional $50,000 for attending a skills and conditioning camp over the offseason.

In a less direct sense, the Rookie of the Year is generally rewarded with exposure, the opportunity for endorsements, and improved TV distribution for his team. While simple, the truest reward for the Rookie of the Year is having their name etched into NBA history as the best of their class.

Is the NBA Rookie of the Year Determined by Fan Vote?

No, NBA fans do not have an impact on who wins the Rookie of the Year award. Unlike All-Star voting, the Rookie of the Year award is voted upon by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters across the United States and Canada.

Fans votes are reserved for the NBA All-Star Game. Voting for the All-Star Game scales the value of fans to 50%, versus votes by NBA players and media members, which represents 25% each.

The voting process for the Rookie of the Year award is split into three sections. First-place votes, second-place votes, and third-place votes. Each is worth five, three, and one point, respectively. The player with the highest points total is named Rookie of the Year.

Has There Ever Been a Unanimous Rookie of the Year?

With such a deep pool of players and various votes available, seeing a unanimous Rookie of the Year winner doesn’t occur often. In the history of the NBA Rookie of the Year award, there have been five unanimous winners.

  • 1983-1984: Ralph Sampson – Houston Rockets
  • 1989-1998: David Robinson – San Antonio Spurs
  • 2010-2011: Blake Griffin – LA Clippers
  • 2012-2013: Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
  • 2015-2016: Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves

When Will the NBA Rookie of the Year Winner Be Announced?

In 2020, the NBA Rookie of the Year winner was announced on September 3rd. This ran differently from previous seasons, as the suspended schedule and social distancing protocols forced the NBA to forego their NBA Awards show.

There is no set date for when the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year will be named. However, with the NBA schedule seemingly set in stone and an estimated playoff schedule in place, you can expect the award winner to be announced after an NBA Champion is crowned.

Who Won the First NBA Rookie of the Year Award?

The first-ever winner of the NBA Rookie of the Year Award was Don Meineke in 1953. Meineke was a 6-7 forward/center out of Dayton, who played for the Fort Wayne Pistons. Meineke led the league in personal fouls (334) and disqualifications (26) in his rookie season.

Despite Meineke being named the first-ever NBA Rookie of the Year, the award was unofficially given by various newspapers and media groups from 1948 to 1952.

The first unofficial winner of the Rookie of the Year award was Paul Hoffman, of the Baltimore Bullets in 1948.

Which Position Wins the Most Rookie of the Year Awards?

Position in the NBA has a fluid definition over the course of NBA history. As times have changed, styles have changed. As such, certain players were highlighted in eras where they wouldn’t have been in others. The positional success of players in relation to the Rookie of the Year award greatly represents this.

Guard (26)

Past Winners: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Allen Iverson, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving

Point Guards and Shooting Guards generally have an excellent chance to win the Rookie of the Year award. Not only do they have the opportunity to make a massive tangible impact on their team, depending on their situation, but a guard-heavy focus in today’s NBA has also made them more involved than ever.

Some guards make their name on their traditional success like playmaking and defense – Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, and Chris Paul are fine examples. Other guards are pure scoring threats as soon as they enter the league, like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Vince Carter.

Forward (30)

Past Winners: Larry Bird, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol

The forward position is likely the most versatile of positions in the NBA. Whether they are traditional interior bruisers who can move over to center, or pseudo-wings who can double as guards, forwards and their impact generally leave a lasting impression.

More traditional, low-post big men found themselves coveted highly throughout the NBA’s history until the mid-2000s. Players like Chris Webber, Tim Duncan, and Pau Gasol found their way to the Rookie of the Year award due to their immediate presence in their team’s gameplan.

Nowadays, you see forwards who can do a little bit of everything. Whether it is playing inside like a big man or running the wings like a guard, their unique size and speed make them difficult matchups. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Larry Bird were some that presented that all-around threat and were locks for Rookie of the Year.

Center (15)

Center is one of the most dominant positions in the NBA but has found itself on a downturn as the league modernizes. Once the key to every NBA team’s offense and defense, today’s NBA centers are much less of a focus. Still, there are some talents that will always find their way to the top.

Some of the best centers of all-time have won the Rookie of the Year award. In fact, 11 of 15 Rookie of the Year award-winning centers found their way to the NBA Hall of Fame. The likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, and David Robinson are counted among the best to ever play.

The most recent center to win the Rookie of the Year award was Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves who broke an 11-year drought for centers looking to claim the title of top rookie.

Who Is the Youngest Ever NBA Rookie of the Year Winner?

The youngest-ever winner of the NBA Rookie of the Year award actually still plays in the league as of the 2020-2021 season. In 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron James at 18 years old. He would go on to win the Rookie of the Year award at 19, setting the record for the youngest-ever winner of the Eddie Gottlieb trophy.

James is one of two players drafted out of high school to win Rookie of the Year. The other being Amar’s Stoudemire in 2002.

Who Is the Oldest Ever NBA Rookie of the Year Winner?

Three players are tied for the record as the oldest Rookie of the Year award winner at 24 years-old. Due to commitments with the US Navy, David Robinson made his debut four years after his draft year. Elgin Baylor went on to spend five years in college, after dropping out of school in his senior year of high school. Malcolm Brogdon would also win the award at 24 years old, as he committed to a year of post-graduate education before entering the NBA.

Which NBA Franchises Have Won the Most NBA Rookie of the Year Awards?

Number of AwardsTeamYears
6Golden State Warriors

San Francisco Warriors

Philadelphia Warriors

1994, 1989, 1975

1966

1960, 1958

5LA Clippers

Buffalo Braves

San Diego Clippers

2011

1973, 1974, 1977

1983

Sacramento Kings

Kansas City Kings

Cincinnati Royals

Rochester Royals

2010

1979

1961, 1964

1956

4Washington Wizards

Chicago Packers

Chicago Zephyrs

Baltimore Bullets

 

1962

1963

1968, 1969

Portland Trail Blazers1971, 1972, 2007, 2013
3Boston Celtics1957, 1971, 1980
Chicago Bulls1985, 2000, 2009
Detroit Pistons

Fort Wayne Pistons

1967, 1995

1953

New York Knicks1965, 1986, 1988
Philadelphia 76ers 

1997, 2014, 2018

Phoenix Suns1976, 1978, 2003
2Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte Hornets

1992

2005

Cleveland Cavaliers2004, 2012
Dallas Mavericks1995, 2019
Houston Rockets1984, 2000
Memphis Grizzlies2002, 2020
Milwaukee Bucks1970, 2017
Minnesota Timberwolves2015, 2016
Brooklyn Nets

New Jersey Nets

 

1982, 1991

Orlando Magic1993, 2001
San Antonio Spurs1990, 1998
Toronto Raptors1996, 1999
1Atlanta Hawks

Milwaukee Hawks

1955
Indiana Pacers1987
Minneapolis Lakers1959
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets2006
Seattle SuperSonics2008
Utah Jazz1981

Which NBA Franchises Have Never Won a Rookie of the Year Award?

There are only two NBA franchises that have failed to produce a Rookie of the Year winner through their history.

  1. Denver Nuggets
  2. Miami Heat

Due to the natural ups and downs of an NBA franchise’s history, it is normal to find teams go through periods of success and failure. It isn’t to say that the Nuggets and the Heat have failed to produce singular rookies, but they haven’t quite been impressive enough to win the vote.

2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Winner Predictions

Now it’s time to get into it. The Rookie of the Year race is exciting this season, as a number of thrilling candidates have found their way to the top of the odds table. It isn’t a one-man race like many years are, but certain players seem to be the favorite.

Of course, with the NBA season seeing its own struggles with health and safety protocol postponing games and leaving players out, the 2021 Rookie of the Year Award is unpredictable. One injury or positive COVID-19 test could take a player or a team out of the running entirely.

The Contenders

1) (G) LaMelo Ball – 6-6, 180 lbs (198 cm, 81 kg) – Charlotte Hornets

SeasonTeamAgeGamesMPGPPGRPGAPGSPGBPGFG%3P%
2020-2021CHA192326.513.65.86.01.40.3.437.330

Analysis:


LaMelo Ball is the current favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2021. Not only is he impactful for the Hornets, but he is exceeding expectations – a trait that is important when looking to win the votes of media members.

While Ball has a boisterous father that invades the scene more often than preferred, Ball’s play on the court is trumping any bad blood caused by his off-court involvements. As a point guard, he’s receiving ample opportunity to make an impact as he is initiating the Hornets offense.

While Ball is shooting poorly from the field, he still sits at a 1.4 win shares and 18.0 player efficiency rating. If he can clean up his playmaking and find better shots, Ball could be a lock for this award.

2) (G) Tyrese Haliburton – 6-5, 185 lbs (196 cm, 83 kg) – Sacramento Kings

SeasonTeamAgeGamesMPGPPGRPGAPGSPGBPGFG%3P%
2020-2021SAC202029.311.83.85.41.20.7.484.433

Analysis:

If you want to talk about a surprise candidate for the Rookie of the Year trophy, it is Iowa State product, Tyrese Haliburton. As the 12th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft little was expected of Haliburton, but he has done more than leave a lasting impression through 20 games.

Haliburton has not only proved himself to be a capable scorer at the NBA level, but his shot selection and intelligence are miles ahead of what many expected. Despite playing behind star guard De’Aaron Fox, Haliburton has forced the Kings into his 29.3 minutes per game due to his solid play.

Should Haliburton help the Kings push for a playoff position, he could overtake Ball as the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. He’s already taken minutes from veteran Cory Joseph, owing to his seemingly untapped potential.

3) (G) Immanuel Quickley – 6-3, 190 lbs (190 cm, 86 kg) – New York Knicks

SeasonTeamAgeGamesMPGPPGRPGAPGSPGBPGFG%3P%
2020-2021NYK212019.012.42.32.70.50.4.413.371

Analysis:

If you want to talk about a surprise name to the list of Rookie of the Year candidates, New York Knicks point guard Immanuel Quickley is showing that his standing as the 25th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft was unjustified.

In just his rookie campaign, Quickley is looking like a true NBA scoring ace. Not much of a playmaker or defender, but a capable offensive threat from anywhere on the court, Quickley evokes a Lou Williams-Esque game well beyond his years.

A big factor in Quickley’s bid for Rookie of the Year will be his ability to help the Knicks out of mediocrity. Should he help the Knicks to their first playoff berth since 2013, it would be difficult to deny him the award.

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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.



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