The Golden State Warriors pondered trading out of the No. 2 overall spot in this year’s draft and received numerous offers, but the Dubs chose to stay put and take Memphis center James Wiseman — and that’s looking like a wise move, no pun intended, as Wiseman is now the +225 favorite on the NBA odds to win Rookie of the Year.
2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Betting | James Wiseman Leads Way
Wiseman became the youngest player (19 years, 266 days old) to start an opening game for the Warriors since starting lineups were first tracked in 1970-71 (prev. Joe Smith, 20 years, 100 days, on 11/3/95 at Houston). Wiseman was the first rookie to start the opener for the Warriors since Harrison Barnes in 2012 and the first to start at center since Todd Fuller in 1996.
Wiseman scored 19 points in his NBA debut and then followed it up with an 18-point effort. His 37-point total was the second-most in the Warriors West Coast era in a player’s first two games in his career, behind Rick Barry’s 42 in 1965.
Rookies are going to struggle at times, and Wiseman’s third game vs. the Bulls wasn’t as good as he was quiet in 23 foul-plagued minutes, shooting 3-of-8 from the field for seven points, three rebounds, one steal and one block. Through his first three games, Wiseman was averaging 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and one steal while he is shooting 83.3% (5-of-6) from 3-point range.
For a player that missed practice and didn’t play in a competitive basketball game in over a year before joining the Warriors, Wiseman has squashed any doubt over how he would make the transition to the NBA. His workload is liable to continue to rise with Marquese Chriss (leg) done for the season. Steve Kerr has said Wiseman "will be ready to play big minutes soon."
Wiseman has yet to play next to All-Star forward Draymond Green as he has been out with a foot injury. When Green debuts, it won’t hurt Wiseman as Green is not really an offensive-minded player. If anything, it will help in terms of Wiseman getting to his spots and getting the ball moving and Green will be a huge help on defense.
LaMelo Ball, the third overall pick by Charlotte, is the +300 second-favorite. The Hornets haven’t really let Ball play a ton yet, but Coach James Borrego recently that "maybe there are more minutes" available for the prized rookie. "I’m taking the slow approach, but I’ll add some more minutes as we go. He’s a major part."
Prior to getting drafted third overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, Ball played for the Illawara Hawks in Australia and earned NBL (National Basketball League) Rookie of the Year for the 2019-
One rookie who is already fading a bit from the ROY race is the Knicks’ Obi Toppin, who is +550. He injured a calf in his NBA debut and won’t play again for at least a week. He scored nine points and had three rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes of playing time in his debut.
The rehab process has Toppin unable to put any pressure on his leg for a week, affecting his conditioning. Toppin won’t practice again in 2020 so he’s probably going to miss several weeks.
“When you miss that type of time, with that type of injury, there’s going to be a period of time for him to get back to speed in terms of playing,’’ Coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And so obviously with a calf, you can’t run or jump, so the conditioning component will factor into that.’’
The Knicks selected Toppin with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA draft. The 22-year-old Toppin, who was born in Brooklyn, played at Dayton for two years and declared for the draft after his redshirt sophomore season.
The No. 6 overall pick by Atlanta, USC big man Onyeka Okongwu, has yet to debut due to left foot inflammation and will not see the floor in a game until at least early-January most likely. He is +2500 to win Rookie of the Year.
We liked Wiseman before the season and are sticking with him to win Rookie of the Year.