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A highly-touted rookie class emerged in the 2018 NBA Draft, and it was anyone's guess who would win the Rookie of the Year award. There were more than a few players at the top of the draft that looked like they could win, from bigs like Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III to guards like Trae Young and Colin Sexton.
And then there was Luka Doncic, who by the age of 19 had won an MVP and a championship in the second-best basketball league in the world. Of course, before the season, critics will almost always have some shade to throw at these Europeans players.
Well, those naysayers have certainly been dismissed.
Now that we're a few months into the NBA season, the picture for Rookie of the Year has become a little more clear. Doncic has not only proven he won't be a bust, but also looks to be a bonafide superstar in the making. And now, the odds of -1429, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, certainly reflect that.
What is most crazy is that the No. 1 pick, Ayton, is so far behind at +675. His numbers are similar to Doncic in many ways, but Ayton's Suns are one of the worst in the league. Doncic, on the other hand, seems to be carrying his team to a decent record and just on the brink of playoff contention.
Young, despite having the third best odds (+1500) is in a similar situation to Ayton – he just can't translate his play on the court to consistent wins for his Hawks team. While Ayton is probably the better bet of the two, they might be too far behind to be worth it.
In that sense, I would take a look at three players on the list below them in Jaren Jackson Jr. (+2000), Kevin Knox (+3400) and Bagley (+3900).
Jackson is on a Grizzlies team that played really well out of the gate this year, with him as a major catalyst. With Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both always seemingly on the brink of missing time due to injury, Jackson can get the Grizzlies back on track and keep them afloat.
Knox had a slow start to his rookie campaign, but since coming back from injury he has turned it on big time, putting up numbers similar to 2017-18 Rookie of the Year candidate Jayson Tatum. If Knox can continue the upward trend and make a little bit of noise in the league's number one market, the buzz around him could propel him into contention.
Bagley, who is similar to Knox in the sense that injuries have derailed his season a bit, is on a surprisingly-competitive Kings squad. If Sacramento can make the playoffs, unlike any other rookie's team and Bagley is the main reason, then that could do wonders for his Rookie of the Year candidacy.
Based on the odds, this race may seem like it's over, but the NBA is a league of runs. If one of these guys can make a run for a month or so, there is money to be made on them now.
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David Kaestle is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username davekaestle. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.