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Zion makes big jump in NBA Rookie of the Year odds

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February 3rd, 2020

Some things are worth waiting for. Zion Williamson is one of them.

Eight months after he was selected first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, the rim-rattling rookie is finally on the court and is showing everyone why he was one of the most highly touted prospects of all time.

Williamson sparkled in his pro debut

Williamson made his regular-season debut Jan. 22 against the San Antonio Spurs, and after a slow start, he hit four straight three-pointers and scored 17 consecutive points in a hard-fought, 121-117 loss. The Duke product has scored 20 points or more in three of his five starts and is averaging 19.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 25 minutes per game.

It's one thing to produce big numbers, but it's another to do it as effeciently as Williamson, who is shooting 63% from the field and 67% from three-point range. That’s not a misprint. He really is hitting two-thirds of his treys after making just 24 three-pointers during his freshman year in Durham. It’s still early, but Williamson is on pace to shatter rookie records for both categories.

BetAmerica oddsmakers have taken note of Williamson’s production and have adjusted his odds of winning the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year accordingly. He now sits at +550, after he was listed at +1500 as recently as Jan. 21.

Odds to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award

PlayerNBA Rookie of the Year Odds
Ja Morant
-700
Zion Williamson
+550
Kendrick Nunn
+1400
Rui Hachimura
+3000
Michael Porter Jr.
+3000

Williamson got the best of Morant in their first meeting

Williamson is still well behind Ja Morant in Rookie of the Year odds, but that could change soon after he bested the Memphis sensation in their first meeting of the season Jan. 31. The electrifying forward finished with 24 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 28 minutes, and led NOLA to a 139-111, wire-to-wire win.

Expect more touches for Williamson

Williamson's lofty numbers should continue to grow, if Alvin Gentry has any say in the matter. The Pelicans head coach was livid that his prized rookie didn't get enough touches in New Orlean's 117-109 loss to Houston on Sunday afternoon. 

"Zion can't go four minutes without touching the basketball, and that's on me," Gentry ranted afterward. "That's something that I've got to make sure that will never happen again. So I take responsibility for that. ... He's got an advantage, and we gotta find a way to get him the basketball down there."

Morant is still the man

As compelling as Williamson has been, he still has a lot of ground to make up after missing the first 44 games of the season while recovering from knee surgery. Morant, meanwhile, has already played in 43 games and has the Grizzlies in playoff contention, in a year most pundits picked them to finish last in the Southwest Division.

We saw in 2016-17 just how important service time is in Rookie of the Year voting, after Joel Embiid finished third to Malcolm Brogdon and Dario Saric, despite posting vastly superior per-game averages. Embiid appeared in 31 games that season. If Williamson plays in every game thre rest of the way, which seems unlikely, he will only log 38 games. That alone is reason to bank heavily on Morant.

Enjoy Williamson’s thunderous dunks and feathery threes, but wager on Morant. The Memphis guard already has the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year award in the bag.


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