Unlike the NFL, the NBA season is a marathon. While the 2022-23 campaign is less than three months old, most teams have already played half their games in what has been a terrific season so far.

That said, there is no time like the present to look at the favorites for the end of the Year award. I will start with the Rookie of the Year, as it is arguably the second most prestigious annual award and, generally, one of the most hotly contested races. Here are the betting favorites.

Paola Banchero (-650)

Banchero has been everything that the Magic could have hoped for when they made the 20-year-old forward the top overall pick in the 2022 draft. Banchero is a talented offensive player who has shown the ability can score in various ways and situations. He leads the Magic in scoring and ranks in the top four in several other categories.

Banchero averages 20.9 points, tops among all rookies and has six double-doubles in 34.9 minutes a game. Banchero also has one of the higher efficiency rankings among first-year players, with a PER (16.2), PIE (11.4), and a (0.2) VORP.

Bennedict Mathurin (+500)

Everyone knew that Mathurin could score and shoot the ball well from his two years at Arizona, but his strong start to the year still took everyone by surprise. Mathurin has been a big boom to the Pacers bench, averaging 17.3 points, and has a +1.7 plus/minus rating in 28.4 minutes a game. He has 15 games of 20 or more points, topping the 30-point plateau twice.

Jaden Ivey (+3000)

Ivey has had an up-and-down start to the campaign. He has been a consistent scorer but has struggled with his shooting and playmaking.

Ivey averages 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 40.9% from the field and 31.4% from the 3-point line. He has scored in double-figures in 31 of 36 appearances and produced three double-doubles.

Keegan Murray (+25000)

Before the season, Murray looked like a leading contender for the ROY after solid performances during the summer league. However, he has basically been a designated 3-point shooter this year for a very surprisingly good Kings’ squad and hasn’t done much else.

Murray averages 11.5 points and 2.2 3-pointers while knocking the long-distance shots down at a solid 38.2% clip. He has scored in double-figures 21 times, topping 20 points on five occasions, and has one double-digit rebound game.

Jalen Williams (+1250)

Williams has been a solid-around performer for the Thunder. He has excelled at getting to the basketball, with over 55% of his attempts coming from within 10 feet and finishing as the 6-6 wing makes 70% of his shots around the rim.

Williams averages 11.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. He has reached double-figures in 21 of 32 appearances while grabbing at least five boards on 13 occasions. Williams has an above-average rookie PIE (8.3).

Walker Kessler (+20000)

Kessler is one of the “steals” of the draft, being taken with the No. 22 overall selection. He doesn’t score much but is very efficient around the rim. He is a huge difference-maker on the defensive end and offensive glass.

Kessler tops all rookies in blocks. He also ranks among the leaders among first-year players in plus/minus, double-doubles, defensive rating, and offensive rating.

Jabari Smith Jr. (+20000)

The uber athletic forward has struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter, but has done a fabulous job at finishing at the rim (62.2%) and connecting on mid-range shots (45%). Smith also has excelled on the glass though defense, as expected, has been an issue. He has produced six double-doubles while scoring in double-figures 26 times and grabbed 10 or more boards eight times.

Jalen Duren (+25000)

Duren has played extremely well since being inserted into the Pistons’ starting lineup. He averages 8.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 67.2% from the field in 13 starts. Duren leads the 2022-23 draft class in rebounds and offensive boards per game.

Andrew Nembhard (+50000)

The No. 31 overall pick has been a nice selection for the Pacers thus far. His shooting and playmaking has made him the perfect pairing alongside Tyrese Halliburton and Buddy Hield in Rick Carlisle’s three- guard lineup. Nembhard averages 8.8 points, 4.1 assists and 1.8 turnovers while making 1.3 treys at a 38% clip in 24 starts.

NBA Analysis

Nembhard and Duren have been nice stories early this season, but the hardware is Banchero’s to lose. I encourage handicappers to get their bets on him now, because his odds are going to only go higher as the season progresses. Mathurin or Ivey aren’t horrible options to throw money on though Banchero would have to get injured or go through a prolonged slump for them to have any chance of winning.

Prediction: Paola Banchero wins 2022-23 ROY (-650)

Best Bet: Jalen Ivey (+3000). Ivey is a more well-rounded player than Mathurin. It would take Banchero to completely fall off for him or anyone else to win the award.

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