Dario Saric becomes odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year

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Will Joel Embiid still win Rookie of the Year despite playing just 31 games before being shut down for the season?

It’d be historic if he does, and I think he has a pretty good chance.

Bovada doesn’t believe bettors will see his case so strongly.

The gambling website favors fellow 76ers rookie Dario Saric over the field for Rookie of the Year. The full odds:

Remember, these aren’t meant to accurately reflect the true odds. The intent is to maximize Bovada’s profit, likely by spreading bets across multiple players reasonably evenly. So, odds like these usually reveal no wise choices.

But I’d bet on Embiid if I were a gambler. I think he has about a 55% chance of winning Rookie of the Year, making him a huge overlay.

Embiid was just so good in his limited minutes, and the 2016 draft class is off to a historically bad start. Even with Saric hot lately, conditions are ripe for Embiid to deserve Rookie of the Year.

Here’s how many times a rookie scored 20 points in a win this season:

  • Joel Embiid 11
  • Dario Saric 3
  • Jamal Murray 2
  • Eight others each 1

That’s not the ultimate stat for every situation, but I find it telling here — especially considering Embiid is an excellent defender. Embiid just impacted winning more in 31 games far more than any other rookie has has in a larger sample, to the point I doubt anyone else will catch him.

But will Rookie of the Year voters see it the same way?

I believe enough will. Some might knock him down a peg, but Embiid will wind up on many ballots. And there’s no clear alternative. Saric, Malcolm Brogdon, Murray, Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown will split votes.

That said, this there’s no precedent for an award race like this. Perhaps, it’s prudent to be conservative with betting on it.

Don’t want to take the risk on Embiid at 15/4? OK. Just don’t bet on Saric at 1/2. That’s awful value.