While we eagerly await the start of college football and the NFL, the 2016-17 NBA season is just two months off. And I'm here today to talk about Minnesota's Kris Dunn, who is +700 on Bovada's NBA odds to win Rookie of the Year honors.
ROY Back-To-Back Winners
No team in NBA history has had a Rookie of the Year winner three straight seasons.
In 1962, the Chicago Packers' Walt Bellamy, the No. 1 overall pick in 1961 and a future Hall of Famer, was named the Rookie of the Year. The next season, Chicago's Terry Dischinger won the award. Chicago was called the Zephyrs in Year 2 of the franchise but then the team moved to Baltimore to become the Bullets (now the Washington Wizards). If you are wondering, Cincinnati's Jerry Lucas was the ROY in 1964. He's in the Hall of Fame.
In 1967, Baltimore took guard Earl Monroe, a future Hall of Famer, with the No. 2 overall pick and he would go on to be that season's Rookie of the Year. In 1968, the Bullets took another future Hall of Famer in rugged big man Wes Unseld at No. 2 overall and he would be the Rookie of the Year. No Bullets player had any prayer of winning ROY in 1969-70 because the Milwaukee Bucks had a rookie center from UCLA by the name of Lew Alcindor and he, of course, won the award.
In 1971, Portland guard Geoff Petrie was named the co-Rookie of the Year with Boston big man Dave Cowens, a future Hall of Famer. The next season, the Trail Blazers' Sidney Wicks took home the honors.
Finally, in 1973 future Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo was the ROY Award for the Buffalo Braves (now the L.A. Clippers). The next year, the Braves' Ernie DiGregorio was the winner.
Up until the 2014-15 season, those were the only franchises to have back-to-back ROY winners.
Wiggins, Towns, And Dunn?
If you polled every general manager in the NBA as to which roster they would like to have for the next five years, I'm sure the Golden State Warriors, after adding Kevin Durant to All-Stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, would be the majority pick. But I'd also be willing to bet that the runner-up pick would be the young Minnesota Timberwolves.
Are the Wolves a threat to win the Western Conference next year after adding former very successful Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau this offseason? Certainly not and Minnesota is +4500 among the top sports betting sites to win the West for the first time in franchise history. But look out in two years.
Thanks to the Kevin Love trade a couple of years ago with Cleveland -- which still wasn't a good trade for the Cavs but did help result in a title, so I guess it worked out for now -- the Wolves landed guard Andrew Wiggins, the top overall pick in the 2014 draft, and he won Rookie of the Year honors, a first in Wolves history.
However, Wiggins himself wasn't enough to change the team's fortunes as Minnesota finished with the NBA's worst record in 2014-15 and won the draft lottery. That resulted in taking Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns at No. 1 overall and he had one of the best rookie seasons ever in winning ROY honors. Towns was a unanimous choice and should have been as he was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month in every month. Towns led all rookies in points per game (18.3), rebounds per game (10.5) and double-doubles (51) and joined Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan as the only rookies to average 18 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at least 54 percent from the field.
So that brings me to Dunn, who is a +700 third-favorite on Bovada to win this year's rookie honors. The point guard was chosen No. 5 overall out of Providence; the Timberwolves had discussed trading that pick to Chicago in a package for Jimmy Butler, but the Bulls decided not to.
You can't take too much from Summer League, but Dunn was spectacular in Las Vegas. In his first game against Denver, Dunn had 27 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. And in his second game against Toronto, Dunn had 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a steal. but he hit his head in that game and was held out the rest of Summer League with concussion-like symptoms.
The big question for Dunn's ROY candidacy is if he will play enough. Thibodeau absolutely refused to play rookies much during his Bulls days. That said, Dunn is a tremendous defender already and that's Thibodeau's calling card, and it might thus get Dunn more minutes. The bigger problem could be that Ricky Rubio is already in place as the team's starting point guard. There have been rumors that Thibs, also the team president, has been shopping Rubio. San Antonio and Sacramento have been mentioned as possible destinations.
NBA Free Pick: I don't think Dunn is great betting value at the moment, but if Rubio is moved before the season then Dunn becomes a legitimate ROY contender and Minnesota could make rookie history.