Thanks to a shallow rookie class that contained few players able to majorly impact a side in their season, the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award went to a player picked later than number 10 in the draft for the first time since 1987/88.
Michael Carter-Williams, picked 11th by the Philadelphia 76ers, became the latest draft selection to win the award since 18th pick Mark Jackson claimed the gong all those years ago.
This season though, the draft was packed with talent and the accolade of being the best fresher in the NBA could go to any number of suitors.
One player with as good a chance as any, however, didn’t actually take the stage in late June at the Brooklyn.
Nerlens Noel was picked sixth by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013, five spots ahead of Carter-Williams, before being immediately traded to the point-guard’s 76ers.
Having failed to take the floor for a single game last term due to an ACL injury, the 6ft 11in centre is eligible to win this year’s award as it is his de facto rookie season.
That gives the 5/1 shot a huge advantage over the rest of the field, as he’s already spent a season training with teammates and experiencing all that’s required in the league outside of playing.
The key to being crowned Rookie of the Year, though, lies in what he does on the court and, being a shot-blocking expert in a team more interested in developing their talent than winning right now, Noel has a great opportunity to impress.
Unlike with other top candidates for the award, like 3/1 favourite Jabari Parker and number one draft pick Andrew Wiggins (6s), Noel has no rivals for his Sixers starting spot and will enjoy plenty of playing time.
As a defensive lynchpin, the 20-year-old doesn’t need the ball in his hands to standout, something both Wiggins and Parker rely heavily on, which in effect harms their chances.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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