It was absolutely no surprise in last week's NBA draft that the New Orleans Hornets took former Kentucky big man Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall choice. It's equally unsurprising that Davis is the overwhelming 6-5 favorite at Bovada to be named the NBA Rookie of the Year next season.
Last season as a freshman, Davis averaged 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks while shooting 64.2 percent from the field for the national champion Wildcats. His block total was a school record and third-best ever for a freshman. He was the National Player of the Year, Final Four Most Outstanding Player and Southeastern Conference's Player, Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year.
The Hornets lucked out in moving up a couple spots to win the draft lottery in May and already have opened up a starting spot for Davis by trading former center Emeka Okafor to Washington a few weeks ago. Okafor was the last center to be named top rookie, which he did in 2004-05. Davis is considered NBA-ready defensively right now but likely will have to add weight to his 6-foot-10, 220-pound lanky frame to have a major offensive impact. The No. 1 overall pick has won NBA Rookie of the Year three of the past four seasons.
Davis isn't the only Hornet as a betting option, however. New Orleans took another freshman, Duke point guard Austin Rivers, at No. 10 overall. Rivers (30-1) looks to be the long-term option to replace Chris Paul, who was traded by New Orleans to the Los Angeles Clippers before last offseason. Paul was the last Hornet to win Rookie of the Year, in 2005-06. Rivers also could start from Day 1 for the Hornets and no doubt will be on the passing end of many alley-oops to Davis.
Three other Kentucky players joined Davis as first-round picks, but only two have betting options. Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (7-1 second-favorite to be top rookie) went No. 2 overall to Charlotte and point guard Marquis Teague (25/1) went No. 29 to Chicago. Teague could get plenty of playing time in the first half of the season while Bulls star Derrick Rose, a former Rookie of the Year, is sidelined rehabbing his torn knee ligaments. The other UK first-rounder was Terrence Jones, who Houston took at No. 18. There is no betting currently available on him.
The Celtics had two first-round picks in the 2012 draft and were thrilled that former Ohio State All-American Jared Sullinger fell to them at No. 21. Sullinger was considered a potential Top-5 NBA pick after his freshman All-American season, but he returned to school. Last season he wasn't quite as dominant but still averaged 17.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.
The 6-foot-9-inch, 265-pound Sullinger, who has already signed with Boston, was projected to be a lottery pick again in this draft, but questions about a potential back injury caused him to slide in the draft. He is 30-1 to be the NBA's top rookie next season. The Celtics haven't had one of those since a guy named Larry Bird in 1979-80. Boston's only other two Rookies of the Year were also both future Hall of Famers: Tom Heinsohn in 1956-57 and Dave Cowens, who shared the award with Portland's Geoff Petrie, in 1970-71.
Boston's pick at No. 22 overall was Syracuse center Fab Melo, but he's considered a long-term project and thus likely not to play a ton next season. He doesn't have odds to be top rookie.
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