By Mark Strotman | | 4 mins
Ja Morant 2020 Rookie of the Year Odds Rise after NBA Draft
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There were 18 trades made during the 2019 NBA Draft, a new record in the modern two-round, 60-pick era.
Some were more important than others – apologies to the Warriors dealing pick No. 58 to the Jazz – and a few could have an impact on the Rookie of the Year race next season.
Morant ROY Odds See Uptick after Landing in Memphis
There was no question the Grizzlies were going to use the second overall pick on Murray State point guard Ja Morant.
It’s why the sophomore stud was listed at anywhere from +500 to +450 on Rookie of the Year NBA odds. But Memphis has been ultra-aggressive in the last week in putting their stamp on the next chapter of their franchise, and the results could be a better avenue to Morant winning Rookie of the Year.
That's worth noting for NBA betting fans looking to make some coin on whichever player picked last night ends up winning the award.
It began a day before the draft when the Grizzlies shipped 12-year veteran Mike Conley, the franchise’s leader in points, assists, steals and games played, to the Utah Jazz.
Memphis has traded guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz for Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder, the 23rd pick in Thursday's Draft and a future first-round pick, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 19, 2019
It left a void at point guard – Conley averaged 33.5 minutes per game – that Morant will now fill. There was some though that Conley would stay in Memphis to mentor Morant, but in reality that would have stunted the 19-year-old’s growth (and hurt his Rookie of the Year chances). Morant is now a lock to play 30+ minutes a night from the get-go.
A few hours after the Grizzlies selected Morant they made another splash. Using the draft pick they acquired from Utah in the Conley deal, the Grizzlies moved up two spots in a deal with the Thunder and drafted the sliding Brandon Clarke.
The Gonzaga power forward will turn 23 this summer – an unfathomable number to some when it comes to draft prospects – but he’s an outstanding leaper and shot blocker who will, like Morant, contribute right away.
Morant led the country in assists last season at Murray State and now has a stellar rim runner in Clarke. Clarke also fits well next to Jaren Jackson Jr., who was named to the All-Rookie First Team last month. There’s a bright young core in Memphis, and Morant will get to run the show. For those reasons, his Rookie of the Year odds got a slight bump to +400.
Zion Williamson Still the Favorite in New Orleans
Of course, Morant will have to beat out prohibitive favorite Zion Williamson for the award.
Williamson was the first overall pick on Thursday night and is fully expected to hit the ground running as a star from Day 1.
It’s why he’s as heavy as -200 to win the award before he’s even played a minute in the NBA. He has slightly better odds at -167 on 888Sport, but it’s still an incredible number given that there’s no sure thing in the NBA.
But Pels GM David Griffin has surrounded Williamson with plenty of talent. In addition to their haul in the Anthony Davis deal, the Pelicans also drafted Texas center Jaxson Hayes and Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker on Thursday.
New Orleans will compete in the West and will be in the national spotlight all year long. That’s good news for Williamson’s Rookie of the Year prospects.
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R.J. Barrett a dark horse bet in New York
R.J. Barrett, a collegiate teammate of Williamson, will also be in the spotlight playing in New York. He’s currently +400 to win Rookie of the Year, and those odds could be favorable if the Knicks strike out in free agency.
Their plans changed after Kevin Durant’s Achilles tear along with news that Kyrie Irving prefers Brooklyn and could join the Nets. If the Knicks can’t grab anyone big in free agency, Barrett could be in line to post monster numbers.
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