With the 2022 NBA Summer League on the books, we can start building our Rookie of the Year (ROY) futures portfolio. But before we get to those picks, I’ve listed key trends dating back to 1966, when the league revamped the draft to remove territorial picks:
- Five of ROY’s last six winners were on teams that reached at least one playoff game.
- Over the past four years, the average draft position of the ROY award winner was third.
- ROY winners averaged 19.03 points per game.
- The 2017-18 season is the last time the first overall pick won the ROY.
- The No. 1 picks overall won the most ROY awards (18).
- Guards have won the ROY award 26 times and forwards 23 times.
Given what we’ve seen over the past six years, ROY voters are starting to value team performance instead of just looking at a player’s stat line.
Frankly, I think it started in 2017 when former Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon won the award after averaging 10.2 points, 4.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
Milwaukee qualified for the playoffs that season as Brogdon beat Dario Saric of the 76ers, who averaged 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Here are three players I’m watching for the upcoming season, with odds by BetMGM.
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Benoit Mathurin (11/1)
Based on the trends above, I think it makes sense to target a rookie on a team with a decent chance of making at least a playoff game. And given what we saw in the summer league, the Pacers’ Mathurin is a player who fits that profile.
Indiana selected Mathurin sixth overall and the former Arizona guard ranked third among summer league rookies with 19.3 points in three games. Mathurin should be able to play at least 30 minutes a night because I’m putting him right into the Pacers’ starting rotation.
As far as the Pacers’ playoff chances go, I think this team may surprise some people with Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield coming via trade from the Kings. Note that the Pacers are only a year away from qualifying for a play-in spot in the 2020-21 season.
Kegan Murray (+650)
Another player who seems like part of a budding team is the Kings forward. Last season, Sacramento only finished four games in a play-in spot, so it should benefit from having a bona fide star like Murray on the roster.
Murray entered the draft after averaging 23.5 points in his sophomore year at Iowa. In the summer league, he led all rookies with an average of 23.3 points in four games.
Not only is he huge in height, at 6-foot-8, but he also has excellent touch from 3-point range, averaging 37.3 percent in college.
Paolo Banchero (+350)
If I had one last choice to win ROY, it would be the Magic striker. There’s a certain symmetry that aligns with Banchero winning the prize.
Not only is the ROY winner often the first pick, Banchero was widely expected to be third in the draft. We also know that over the past four years, the ROY winner’s average draft position was third.
At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Banchero already has an NBA-like body. Although Banchero only played two games during the summer league, he finished behind Murray averaging 20 points per game.
The only downside to our ROY formula is that the Pacers and Kings rosters are ahead of the Magic.