The Rookie of the Year Award coming into the season was a wide-open race between several of the top picks from last year’s draft. However, is Karl-Anthony Towns running away with the award?
At the beginning of the season, Karl-Anthony Towns was considered a slight work in progress, with talented rookie guards, Emmanuel Mudiay and D’Angelo Russell leading the NBA Odds for the Rookie of the Year award. However, by the mid way point it is crystal clear that those two guards are the projects, and Towns is in fact a super star in the making. Not only is Towns running away in the NBA Odds to win the award at shops like 888Sport and 32Red, but also he is -1400 at Paddy Power right now, signaling it might all be decided.
Towns is leading all rookies in several categories, but the most impressive has been his advanced metrics. In some instances, Towns is having one of the best seasons any rookie has ever had in the last 20 years, and that is enough to just give him the award right now. Even if he (hopefully not) sustains an injury that forces him to sit the final 10-20 games, I think his overall numbers and dominance at times is enough to lock him in as the winner. That being said, considering Paddy Power is at -1400 and other books are sitting at -500, while I don’t condone big chalk betting, this may be a nice way to ensure yourself a small profit on a two or three unit play on Towns to win it all at -500. While it would only pay out $100 on a $500 bet, there are very few circumstances where Towns loses this award after the season he has had. However, for argument’s sake, here are two guys who could in theory still win the award.
Kristaps Porzingis came out on fire to start the season, but quickly hit the rookie wall. However, Porzingis will still easily be in the top three in votes by the end of the season if he sustains his current pace. However, Paddy Power and Betfair are the only two books that have current odds for Porzingis to win the award at +500 and +300 respectfully, which smells suspiciously like a sucker wager at both shops.
The main thing that Porzingis lacks that Towns has almost mastered through 50 games is consistency. Porzingis can have a double-double with 20 points and ten rebounds one game, then have six points the next game and be completely unheard from. At this point in the season, Porzingis is also probably getting tired which won’t help either. However, while the Knicks’ big man has had a stellar rookie year after being labeled a major project, the Knicks front office and fans should not be disappointed at all. He may be third leading vote getter for the award though, so he is not a great play at his current odds.
While is hasn’t been without its ups and downs, mostly because the Sixers are awful, Jahlil Okafor has had a great rookie season as well. It is a new era of big men in the NBA, as several rookie bigs have not only had good seasons, they have had great seasons. Okafor’s efficiency could use some work, and his defense will be a work in progress, but one thing is for sure, whether it’s with the Sixers or another team, Okafor has the ability to score in the paint, which is hopefully not becoming a lost art in today’s NBA.
Okafor is the only other rookie big man outside of Towns who is averaging more than 17 points per game this season, and while his field goal percentage is still below 50 percent, after shooting around 45 percent for the first two months of his career, he shot the ball at 60 percent in the month of January, and so far in February he is at nearly 53 percent. If he can keep those numbers going, in my eyes he is the only rookie left that could knock off Towns. It’s a very small chance, but with other shops posting lines of +650 for Okafor to win the award, +1100 at this point may be a slight bargain, but not one I’m ready to recommend.