Bronny James Is Public’s Pick for NBA Rookie of the Year

  • Bronny received the most bets to be picked first in the draft 
  • Only one second-round pick has won Rookie of the Year since 1965
  • An ESPN insider reported Bronny will likely play mostly in the G League
  • Zach Edey is the public’s second-favorite pick for ROTY
Bronny James
Bronny James is the leading candidate to win Rookie of the Year based on public betting breakdowns. [Image:]

A public darling 

Just when it seemed as if the Bronny James betting frenzy was over, the Los Angeles Lakers’ second–round pick has taken the largest share of bets to win NBA Rookie of the Year.

one of the worst resumes of any recent draft pick

According to BetMGM insights as of Monday, July 1, one-third of all tickets were on Bronny James to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. That’s despite being picked behind 54 other players in the NBA Draft and having one of the worst resumes of any recent draft pick.

The question now becomes whether the 19-year-old will defy the odds, or if he will fall flat as many expect him to.

Bronny James, NBA Rookie of the Year?

Bronny’s controversial decision to leave college and head to the professional ranks resulted in him joining his dad, LeBron, on the Lakers, who selected him with the 55th pick in the summer draft. That’s despite his pedestrian stat line of 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in his lone year at USC.

Many draft experts believed that Bronny either wasn’t ready for the NBA or graded him as a second-round pick. He also measured at 6-foot-1 despite being listed at 6-foot-4 at USC and only played 19.4 minutes per game in 25 collegiate contests. 

more bets were on him than any other player to be the first pick

Even with all of the evidence pointing toward Bronny being more of a “project” player, more bets were on him than any other player to be the first pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. As Bronny’s odds fluctuated from about +20000 to +25000, it was ultimately Frenchman Zaccharie Risacher who was taken first by the Atlanta Hawks. 

The Lakers didn’t even use their first pick on Bronny; instead, they selected SEC Player of the Year and Tennessee standout Dalton Knecht (who, coincidentally, has the third-most bets to win Rookie of the Year).

Whether out of sheer fandom for LeBron, the love for an underdog story, or belief in an over-scrutinized player, it’s obvious that many bettors are rooting for Bronny. But how close will he come to outperforming all of his classmates?

A tough road ahead

The first hurdle for Bronny will be getting onto the court. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he is likely to spend most of his rookie season with the South Bay Lakers, the L.A. Lakers’ G League affiliate.

Even if he manages to stay with the purple and gold, he’ll have to contend for playing time with players such as D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Max Christie, and Cam Reddish, among others.

Edey has received 16% of bets to win Rookie of the Year

According to public bettors, the Memphis Grizzlies’ 7-foot-4 center and reigning back-to-back NCAA Player of the Year, Zach Edey, is Bronny’s greatest competition for the award. Edey has received 16% of bets to win Rookie of the Year and has the highest handle of any player at 51.3%. Knecht, as previously mentioned, got 9.9% of bets, the third-most. And while Bronny had the second-highest share of the total handle (17.5%), New Orleans Pelicans center Yves Misi was third with 6%.

Only one second-round pick has won the NBA Rookie of the Year award since 1965: Malcolm Brogdon in 2016-17. That’s the precedent that Bronny will have to overcome to cash his bettors’ tickets.

The NBA season doesn’t begin until October, but the Summer League will get underway on Saturday, July 6. Bronny, the supposed 55th-best player in the draft, is being featured in the NBA’s advertisements.

BetMGM lists Bronny James at +25000 to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. The first glimpse of him in a professional environment will likely come on Saturday when the Lakers take on the Sacramento Kings.

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