There isn’t a sport where first-year players make more of an immediate impact than the NBA. Impactful rookies, more often than not, join losing teams looking for a spark. These players get the keys to the offense and rack up plenty of counting stats.
But they’re not alone. In today’s NBA tanking, more than a handful of teams are taking this route, leading to tough but exciting Rookie of the Year races. There are a handful of factors that play in to who takes home the crown each season that gamblers can use for NBA betting on ROTY.
How to Bet NBA Rookies of the Year
Winners Play Early and Often
Yes, your Rookie of the Year needs to be on the floor. He’s going to amass serious counting stats – not necessarily in an efficient matter – so he’ll play a bunch. But consider that from 2002 to 2015, the Rookie of the Year winners averaged a whopping 35.6 minutes, with seven of those 13 playing more than 36 minutes per game or more.
Find a player who has an open path to start and rack up minutes every night. They won’t be rotational players; they’ll have the ball in their hands and be allowed to play through their mistakes with longer leashes. After all, the best rookies are foundations of franchises, so there’s no reason not to play them. From 2000 to 2018, 56 rookies averaged 30 or more minutes per game. That’s 3.1 rookies per season. Identify rookies who will lead their class in minutes and you’ve got a great chance of finding your Rookie of the Year.
Rookie Class Leaders in Points Per Game
MVP winners score as well as any other players in the league (LINK). There are plenty of factors in determining the league’s best, but none more important than scoring. The same goes for Rookie of the Year winners. From 1990 to 2016, a span of 27 winners, 20 were the leading scorers in their draft class. Five others were second in their class in scoring, and the other two were third.
Remember, efficiency is rarely taken into account. The best rookies play for the worst teams, and those teams usually lack in scorers. High scoring totals are going to stand out, and for a nearly three-month span it’s determined the winner almost exclusively.
Great draft picks can make a defensive presence or make an impact as a passer, but that doesn’t equal a Rookie of the Year. Look for the top Day 1 scorers in the class and you’ve got an excellent chance at finding your winner.
And which players get to play through their mistakes most? Point guards. They also have the ball in their hands most, leading to the most counting stats. The NBA continues to transform into a point guard league, so it’s not surprising that from 2006 to 2018 nine of the 13 winners point guards. All of those point guards averaged at least 4.0 assists.
The Best Picks are Top Picks
Rookie of the Year winners come from all different points in the draft. It’s hard to peg one specific spot, but it’s better to go with the early picks. From 1997 to 2012 the Rookie of the Year came from picks 1, 1, 5, 1, 5, 3, 9, 1, 2, 4, 6, 2, 1, 4, 1, 1. That’s seven of 15 top picks winning and two others coming from the No. 2 spot, meaning 60 percent of the winners in that span were the Nos. 1 or 2 picks. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the top picks are usually the best players in the class.
Usually On Bad Teams
Because Rookie of the Year winners are top picks, they’re usually on some of the worst teams in the league. So while it’s entirely different from trying to bet the MVP, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, or Coach of the Year, you’re going to want to pick a loser for Rookie of the Year.
From 2004 to 2016, each of the Rookie of the Year winners played for losing teams. And they were seriously bad teams, averaging just 28 wins a year. Find a losing team, find your Rookie of the Year.
Winners Will Sustain Success
Rookie of the Year winners find themselves in perfect situations in Year 1. They get playing time, have the ball in their hands plenty and get long leashes. But the players who win Rookie of the Year have sustained success.
Rarely is there a flash in the pan. From 1992 to 2013, 19 of the 24 Rookie of the Year winners went on to play in at least two All-Star Games. It’s important to consider that first year, but look for those who you believe will be stars in the league.