Victor Wembanyama is the natural candidate to win the Rookie of the Year title for the upcoming NBA season, but the path ahead looks tougher than expected.
While most bookmakers consider the Frenchman, the number 1 pick in the NBA Draft, a strong favorite, there has been a rise in the odds for other contenders. Scott Henderson, the number 3 pick, remains the main competitor, but Chet Holmgren is making a comeback from behind.
Having missed the last season due to injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder player will be considered a rookie this year (similar to what happened with Ben Simmons, who won the ROY award one year after the draft). During the Summer League, the Gonzaga product played four games this summer, two in Salt Lake City and two in Las Vegas, showing steady improvement.
Starting off quietly, especially in scoring, he picked up his performance in the last two games, averaging 20.5 points per game with 9.5 rebounds. Holmgren is a valuable player on both ends of the court and could find himself in a team with different ambitions compared to Wembanyama’s rebuilding San Antonio.
OKC, after their play-in experience, could be at a turning point in their growth process and, as a young team, will strive to be contenders for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s a challenging task considering the high level of competition, and Holmgren’s performances could be crucial.
For this reason, the outcome of the challenge may not be a foregone conclusion. We know that the Summer League is quite different from the Regular Season, but based on what we have seen, we can expect an exciting competition among the rookies.