The NBA is littered with stars but there is a more than impressive support cast that will play a big part in deciding this year’s championship.
BetDeluxe analyses some of the key individual player award candidates to find some value.
Rookie Of The Year
The number one draft pick has a chance to have an immediate impact at the Magic, with the pedigree anyone could expect from a number one pick. All the buzz is around what he can do with the ball, but Orlando insiders have been in raptures over his defensive game in the off-season.
Indiana is well and truly in rebuild mode after offloading Malcolm Brogdon, and their focus is on their youth, with plenty of minutes set to come for their number six pick. With poise and composure well beyond his years, Mathurin could make the Pacers his team before too long and represents some exceptional value for this award.
As impressive with the ball as he is without, Murray will be a significant factor for the Kings this season. The forward underwent wrist surgery recently, but that will only be a minor setback as he looks to build on his summer league MVP win.
Ivey should just about be a starter for the young Pistons team, combining with Cade Cunningham to drive the next Detroit era. He suffered some injury setbacks, but that hasn’t discouraged talk. He could be the best of this year’s rookie crop.
Benedict Mathurin – Rookie Of The Year at $10
Defensive Player of the year
It’s a new setup for Gobert after he was the centrepiece in one of the most significant off-season moves. A three-time defensive player of the year, the move to Minnesota will see Gobert play a vital role alongside fellow big man Karl-Anthony Towns. The Timberwolves targeted Gobert for one reason: to bring a defensive edge he has long known for.
Golden State is at its absolute best again after a comprehensive title win, and while much is made of the Splash Brothers’ shooting prowess, Green is still the mainstay in defence. His tenacious approach is his signature, and he will once again be uncompromising in a critical plank of the Warriors’ quest for consecutive titles.
Adebayo can match players of all shapes and sizes and is a significant reason Miami is a perennial contender. After a fourth-placed finish in this award last year, Adebayo is at the top of his game, and there is no reason to believe he will be any less of a threat in 2022-23.
The Greek freak is a regular feature on weekly highlight reels for his incredible athletic abilities but is somehow underrated for his defensive game. But he has won this award and is a regular in the All-Defensive first teams. There is an expectation Milwaukee will front a similar game plan to last year, which only means the reliance on Antetokounmpo in defence will be as great as ever.
Rudy Gobert – Defensive Player Of The Year at $5
Sixth Man Of The Year
Poole represents everything you need from a sixth-man – an impact player, a point of difference to the starting five, and the clear impression he would be a starter in just about any other team. He’s the hot favourite to take this award and should be one of the game’s big improvers in the league’s strongest team.
You’re playing the sixth-man role perfectly if you’re averaging almost 21 points a game without starting on the court. Having just signed an enormous contract extension on the eve of the season, the already cocksure Herro will have an extra pep in his step. The big question is whether he elevates his game to be a permanent starter for the Heat, but if he isn’t, he will be well and truly in the mix for this award.
The man they call Bones is approaching his second NBA season with plenty of confidence after a solid playoff campaign. His defensive game still needs a bit of work, but with some of the best mentors available in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, he will front for this campaign with a much more rounded game and is worth serious consideration to be the sixth man of the year.
There is a bit of mystery around Wood after moving to Dallas in the off-season, keen to get more court time than he did at Houston. But the Mavericks haven’t concealed their excitement about Wood’s ability to turn a game coming off the bench, and he is groomed to be their sixth man in a team expected to go deep in the playoffs.
Christian Wood – Sixth Man of the Year at $10