Ochai Agbaji Rookie of the Year Betting Odds Predictions

Ochai Agbaji Rookie of the Year Betting Odds Predictions

Ryan Knuppel
2 years ago
4 min read
Cavaliers first round draft pick Ochai Agbaji talks to the media during a press conference

Entering the 2022-23 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. If Ochai Agbaji can become the player, Cleveland thinks he can be, its journey back will be much smoother.

The Cavs selected Agbaji with the 14th-overall pick in last month’s NBA draft. The 22-year-old is one of the oldest rookies in this year’s class and was the lone senior selected in the lottery. However, his experience at Kansas could help him develop sooner than other first-year players.

With the draft in the rearview, where does Agbaji lie on the list of Rookie of the Year betting odds? And is taking a flier on the newest Cavalier something worth considering?

Ochai Agbaji ROTY Betting Odds

Agbaji certainly has pros and cons. On the positive side, the 6-foot-5 forward is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player, leading the National Champion Jayhawks in scoring. Yet his biggest knocks are his age, his tweener size between guard and forward, and a perceived lack of star upside.

As a result, Agbaji isn’t among the favorites to receive next season’s Rookie of the Year. However, he’s thought of highly enough to earn a spot in the top ten.

Cleveland’s first-rounder is currently +2500 to win ROTY, placing him in a tie with Washington Wizards guard Johnny Davis. Agbaji sits ahead of many rookies, including Oklahoma City Thunder big man Ousmane Dieng (+3000), Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter AJ Griffin (+3500), and San Antonio Spurs guard Malaki Branham (+5000), a player many Cavs fans pegged for the 14th pick.

That said, Agbaji is a considerable underdog behind some of the bigger-name rooks. Paolo Banchero, the first-overall pick of the Orlando Magic, leads the way at +350. He’s followed closely by Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren, who sit at +400 and +500, respectively, after going third to the Houston Rockets and second to the Thunder.

The ten players with the best Rookie of the Year odds is as follows:

Paolo Banchero (+350)

Jabari Smith (+400)

Chet Holmgren (+500)

Jaden Ivey (+600)

Keegan Murray (+1100)

Bennedict Mathurin (+1300)

Shaedon Sharpe (+1600)

Dyson Daniels (+1800)

Ochai Agbaji (+2500)

Johnny Davis (+2500)

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Is Ochai Agbaji Worth a Rookie of the Year Bet?

Before deciding whether betting on Agbaji to win this award makes sense, there are two questions worth answering. First, what will Agbaji’s role be in his first year with Cleveland? And second, how does his draft slot factor in?

In terms of his role, Agbaji is hardly guaranteed to start for the playoff-caliber Cavaliers. Cleveland’s starting five will definitely include Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley. Collin Sexton will also start, assuming he’s resigning as a restricted free agent.

The Cavs have no shortage of options for the final starting spot. The early favorite is Caris LeVert, who Cleveland acquired ahead of the trade deadline in exchange for a first-round pick.

Cleveland is also holding out hope for Isaac Okoro, who has underwhelmed after going fifth overall in 2020. Key veterans like Lauri Markkanen, Ricky Rubio, and Robin Lopez will also see plenty of playing time next season.

So, where does that leave Agbaji? After an underwhelming scoring output in 2021-22, the Cavs will look for the 22-year-old to provide much-needed shooting off the bench. His defense should also help him become a valuable 3-and-D wing right away.

While it won’t happen immediately, Agbaji could conceivably start over Okoro or even LeVert at some point, assuming the latter is someone Cleveland views as a high-scoring sixth man.

While it’s not impossible for a 14th-overall selection to win ROTY, the historical odds are stacked against Agbaji. Since the first awarding of Rookie of the Year in 1953, six rookies drafted outside the top ten have won. Two of those have been in the last 30 years: 11th pick Michael Carter-Williams in 2013-14 and 36th pick Malcolm Brogdon in 2016-17.

If Agbaji upset the likes of Banchero and Holmgren and won this award, there would be just three winners with a lower draft slot than him in league history. While one of those players is a modern player in Brogdon, the other two are Mark Jackson (18th overall in 1987) and Woody Sauldsberry (60th overall in 1957).

There’s nothing wrong with placing a low-risk bet on Agbaji to surpass expectations and deliver a history-making rookie campaign. But there is a much higher probability of him being a solid rookie instead of a star one. In all likelihood, the next Rookie of the Year recipient probably won’t be a Cavalier.

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