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NBA: Rookie of the year contenders

The 2022 NBA Draft included a number of prospects with incredible potential and in the seasons ahead may well be viewed as a vintage year for new arrivals in the league.

As such, the battle for the Rookie of the Year award should be fiercely contested with a number of candidates who could take the award.

Current superstars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Karl-Anthony Towns are all former rookies of the year, so who can emerge as the best new arrival over the course of the coming campaign?

Paulo Banchero, Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic selected Paolo Banchero with the first overall pick and being the No.1 selection does come with additional pressure. 

The 19-year-old forward helped Duke reach the Final Four last season before declaring for the draft after just one season in college basketball and was then a target for a number of teams, and Orlando opted to use their first pick to bring the Seattle-native to Florida.

The Magic selected Banchero for their Summer League roster but after just two games he was withdrawn from the tournament as they had decided they had already seen enough to know he was NBA-ready. 

One of the key issues to consider when predicting who could win the Rookie of the Year award is how much playing time they will receive - and it seems safe to say Banchero will play regularly for Orlando.

If Banchero does play regularly and can help Orlando improve on last season's woeful 22-60 record he should be the frontrunner for the honour.

Paolo Banchero Rookie of the Year odds: +250

Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings used their fourth overall pick to bring in forward Keegan Murray in a move that raised a few eyebrows at the time, as Jaden Ivey was still available, but that now looks to be an incredibly shrewd move.

The 22-year-old had two seasons in college basketball with Iowa and was named the Big Ten Tournament MVP last season, as well as the Karl Malone Award for the nation's top power forward. 

Murray starred in the Summer League and was named the tournament's MVP after averaging 23 points on 50 per-cent shooting from the field and 40 per-cent from three-point range, as well as seven rebounds, two assists and one steal. 

Murray is clearly good enough to make an impact in the league and the Kings are a competitive outfit, which should strengthen his case further as they are likely to be winning games. 

However, he may face a battle to cement a starting spot in a fairly strong roster and that may work against him in the Rookie of the Year battle.

Keegan Murray Rookie of the Year odds: +500

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Jabari Smith Jr, Houston Rockets

In the weeks preceding the draft, Jabari Smith Jr was widely expected to be Orlando's first pick but instead they swerved him for Banchero, allowing Houston Rockets to bring him to Texas with their third pick. 

The Auburn-product is an 6' 10" forward with impressive athleticism and reflexes, as well as the ability to be a threat from three-point range.

Smith has all the attributes to be a success in the NBA and looks a perfect fit for the Rockets, who were lacking a quality big man, but the early stages of his professional career have perhaps not gone to plan. 

Smith struggled to make an impact in the Summer League and the 19-year-old appears to require a bit of fine-tuning in regards to his overall play. 

He was also outshone by fellow rookie forward Tari Eason during the Summer League and those two players may well find themselves battling for one starting spot with the Rockets in the season ahead, although both should see plenty of game time.

Jabari Smith Jr Rookie of the Year odds: +650

Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

Chet Holmgren, 20, can operate as a center or a forward and was selected with the second overall pick by Oklahoma City Thunder after one season with Gonzaga.

The Minnesota-native has an impressive skillset and in some ways is a bit of an opposite to Smith Jr, as he looks to have the quality to play in the league but needs to develop a bit more physically to be a real threat.

However, he will undergo tests on a foot injury over the coming days amid reports he has suffered ligament damage and if he has sustained a serious problem that would be a huge setback in his Rookie of the Year bid. 

As such, it is worth waiting until the full extent of his injury is clear before placing any bets on Holmgren winning the award.

Chet Holmgren Rookie of the Year odds: +750

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