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NBA Rookie Update: Banchero leads the way in ROTY race

The Rookie of the Year award already looks like a foregone conclusion as Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero has enjoyed a stellar debut season in the NBA.

The Duke product is the leading point scorer among rookies with an average of 20.7 points-per-game, while he also leads in minutes with 33.7, is fourth in rebounds with 6.4 and is third in assists with 3.7.

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the number one draft pick is on course for the Rookie of the Year award after he was withdrawn early from the Summer League by the Magic after they decided he was already NBA ready, and it would take a bizarre set of circumstances for Banchero to miss out.

Unlike the other player awards, how the team performs is essentially irrelevant and it probably helps a rookie to be with a weaker outfit – as that means they will play more minutes.

The Magic have improved with Banchero, 1/10 To Win Rookie of the Year, on board in any case as they have 20 wins after 51 games, having managed just 22 across the entirety of last season.

Orlando aren’t out of postseason contention just yet and they can be backed at 20/1 to make the Playoffs.

The 20-year-old could potentially be named as an All-Star reserve and is closing in on the required 50 games to be eligible for the award, but there are a few other rookies who have impressed this season and some who have struggled to adapt to the NBA.

Mathurin the closest ROTY challenger

Bennedict Mathurin, 6/1 To Win Rookie of the Year, was the sixth overall pick in the 2022 Draft and has managed to make an instant impact at Indiana Pacers, featuring in all 52 of their games so far.

The Canadian forward/guard is averaging an impressive 17.9 points-per-game but has only started six times so far.

If Mathurin were a regular starter he may be closest to Banchero in the Rookie of the Year battle but there are a few talented players standing in his way in Indiana.

Smith Jr showing potential at Houston

Orlando were widely expected to use their top pick to go for Jabari Smith Jr but he ended up heading to Houston as the third pick.

Chet Holmgren was the second player selected by Oklahoma City Thunder, but he sustained a season-ending injury before the campaign had even begun.

Smith was in eighth spot the last time the rookie ladder was updated, his lowest position of the season, and he has perhaps struggled with the step up to NBA level.

However, he has also shown glimpses of potential and is getting plenty of game time at Houston so overall the signs remain positive even if he hasn’t had the most eye-catching of rookie campaigns.

Utah's Kessler flying under the radar

Walker Kessler, who is 60/1 To Win Rookie of the Year, was selected with the 22nd overall pick by Memphis Grizzlies but then traded to Minnesota and then on again to Utah Jazz, as part of the deal that saw Rudy Gobert join the Timberwolves.

The center has managed to make his mark with the Jazz and has put in some huge performances, including a huge double-double against Minnesota with 20 points and 21 rebounds earlier this month.

The Jazz sit in 10th in the Western Conference so there is a good chance Kessler will get to experience postseason basketball this year, with Utah 23/10 to make the Playoffs.

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Murray a key man at Kings

Like Kessler, Keegan Murray spent two years in college basketball before being drafted and the forward was selected with the fourth overall pick by Sacramento Kings.

The forward is a regular starter for the high-flying Kings with 45 of his 47 games so far coming as starts.

Murray is a player who quietly gets about his business and has a solid all-round game, and he has been particularly strong from distance as he averages 2.5 three pointers made per-game on 42.2% shooting – making him a clear leader in both stats among rookies.

Sacramento currently sit in third spot in the West and they are 28/1 to win the Western Conference outright, or 70/1 to go all the way and win the championship.

Detroit pair and OKC starlet impressing

The Thunder may have lost Holmgren for the season but they have managed to unearth one young star as shooting guard Jalen Williams, who was the 12th draft pick, is currently fourth on the rookie ladder.

Detroit pair Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren are also enjoying solid seasons, and the Pistons may well be a team on the rise over the next few years as they have a number of talented young players on their roster.

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